Her explanation for his fatal stabbing involved stumbling, a dog, doo-doo and pizza

Rachael Fidanian in her Polk County Sheriff’s Office mugshot
Rachael Fidanian in her Polk County Sheriff’s Office mugshot

Rachael Fidanian gave many different explanations of how her husband wound up stabbed on the floor of their Lakeland area home in June, most involving holding her dog and tripping over something.

But after Fidanian couldn’t even hold her dog with two arms -- partially because the dog tried to bite her -- Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigators came up with their own explanation: Rachael Fidanian “acting with a depraved mind, without regard for human life, killed (Bryant Fidanian) by stabbing him in the upper torso.”

That’s from the probable cause affidavit explaining Rachael Fidanian’s arrest on second degree murder charges Wednesday. She’s held in Polk County Jail without bond.

This was the eighth time PCSO responded to a calls at Casa Fidanian. Of the previous seven calls, the PC affidavit says three were 911 hang up calls, three were for incidents between the couple where no crime could be determined. Once, Bryant was arrested for aggravated battery when Rachael suffered a broken arm.

Online court records say those charges were dropped.

According to the affidavit, Rachael’s first two explanations for the stabbing came during the 911 call from the morning of June 25.

Explanation No. 1: “She was holding her dog while doing dishes. (Rachael Fidanian) stated she ran towards her husband, slipped and the knife entered his shoulder area.”

Explanation No. 2: “(Rachael) stated she had her dog in her hands while slicing pizza. She stated she went to talk to the victim, tripped and accidentally stabbed him.”

After Polk County Fire Rescue got to the house, nobody answered the front door. Fire rescue workers went into the house and found Rachael Fidanian nude, Bryant Fidanian on the floor and knife near his feet.

That’s when they got Explanation No. 3: “(Rachael) told PCFR she was slicing a pizza she had just cooked and noticed her dog had defecated on itself. (Rachael) stated she went to clean the feces and still had the knife in her hand at the time. (Rachael) told PCFR personnel as she walked over to the area of the feces, she tripped and fell into the victim.”

Despite being taken to Lakeland Regional Health hospital, Bryant died from the stabbing.

PCSO investigators noticed Rachael Fidanian had a bruise under her left eye and it got worse as the day went along. They also noticed inconsistencies in her story about what happened.

During a variation on Explanation No. 3, Rachael said she walked around the house cleaning while eating half a frozen pizza for breakfast. But the house was cluttered.

And, a detective said, Rachael was wearing a black and red flannel robe while talking with him. She said she wore that robe all morning, including when she picked up the dog while the pooch was peeing and pooping on itself and in the living room. But the robe was poop and pee free, as was the living room and back yard.

Detectives said Rachael claimed she was in a “wonderful” marriage with a “great husband” and “the two of them did not yell at each other, fight nor have they ever walked out on each other during arguments.”

A neighbor across the street, however, said the day before he saw Bryant walk out of the house with a backpack in the rain, chased in a car by an erratically-driving, yelling Rachael.

Two other neighbors said they often heard sounds of angry argument from the Fidanian residence. In October 2016, a naked Rachael ran to their house. She said he hit her and threatened to kill her, they recalled. They let her stay in their house while they called 911. Then, they told police, she started turning over and breaking things in their house “so they allowed her to leave.” Rachael was Baker Act-ed that night.

Investigators came back to Rachael and questioned how she tripped. She gave Explanation No. 5: She was holding the dog and a knife as they started arguing over cleaning up dog poop and cat litter. As they walked toward each other in anger, Rachael said, “she turned her body to the left to show the victim the dog’s rear end, with the feces on it, at which time the knife went into (Bryant’s) chest.”

She then showed detectives how she picked up the dog.

“Detectives observed the suspect to struggle and the dog attempted to bite at her multiple times,” the affidavit reads. “Detectives observed the suspect was unable to pick her dog up with two free hands and could not possibly pick her dog up with one free hand and another hand holding a knife.”

That’s when Rachael invoked her right to remain silent.