Authorities on Thursday began draining the pond behind the Windsor home of a man accused in the killing of his father and suspected in the disappearance of his mother after a cadaver dog indicated the possible presence of human remains at the site.
Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said after the Madison police K-9 team took a dog onto the water, it “showed some particular behavior that leads us to believe there may or may not be some evidentiary items” in the area.
After marking several areas in the pond where the dog reacted with yellow buoys, authorities began hooking up hoses and a large pump to lower the pond from about 12 feet at its deepest to about 5 feet to help the Sheriff’s Office’s dive team search for evidence.
Investigators were assisted in the search by officers from the state Department of Natural Resources as they searched the pond behind the home at 4595 Oak Springs Circle, where 23-year-old Chandler Halderson lived with his mother, Krista, 53, and father Bart, 50, whose torso was found earlier this month in a wooded area in the town of Cottage Grove. Krista Halderson has not been seen since before the July Fourth holiday.
Police tape on Thursday remained around the Halderson family’s cream and tan split-level house, which is still an active crime scene. The length of the two-weeks-and-counting investigation was evidenced by the long, uncut grass surrounding the house, standing in contrast to the well-manicured lawns of neighbors in the suburban development.
Authorities were also still searching a landfill near Johnson Creek and the Haldersons’ home, the Sheriff’s Office said, but provided no updates on what, if anything, was found.
“We’re still methodically going through that area,” Barrett said.
Chandler Halderson has been held in the Dane County Jail since July 8, his bond currently set at $1 million. He was charged last week with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating a corpse, hiding a corpse and providing false information on a missing person.
Prosecutors have accused him of spinning a “web of lies” when he went to authorities on July 7 and told them his parents had left for their cabin near White Lake in Langlade County with an unidentified couple on July 2 and hadn’t returned.
Bart Halderson’s torso was found with at least one bullet wound, “mutilated and dismembered” on the town of Cottage Grove property on July 8, according to the criminal complaint in the case.
The Medical Examiner’s Office was also working to identify human remains located last week on state-owned land along the Wisconsin River in the town of Roxbury, southeast of Sauk City. Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Elise Schaffer said there was no one currently searching that area.
A person reported on July 3 seeing a man matching Chandler Halderson’s description walking in the area, the complaint said.
Also according to the complaint:
Halderson was seen driving his parents’ Subaru near the wooded area in the town of Cottage Grove three days before his father’s remains were found there.
The property belongs to the partner of his girlfriend’s mother, and he had asked to go swimming in their pool. He was gone for more than an hour when the partner noticed him return dry and the pool cover still on.
The partner said she saw Halderson with the Subaru near a shed on the property, and when he eventually returned to the pool, Halderson appeared “to be washing off, and he looked like he wasn’t paying attention to anyone else around.”
Sheriff’s detectives searched the area near the shed, eventually finding Bart Halderson’s torso wrapped in pants, a black belt and nylon black rope. The search of a nearby tank revealed a pair of scissors, a saw blade and the handles of what may be bolt cutters.
“We want to continually remind the public to reach out to our investigators if they have any information that could be helpful to this investigation,” Barrett said.
Tips can be left anonymously on the Dane County tip line at 608-284-6900.
State Journal reporter Logan Wroge contributed to this report.