Authorities on Monday indicated they believe a 23-year-old Windsor man shot and dismembered his father before dumping him in a rural area, then lied to investigators by telling them both his parents had gone away for the Fourth of July weekend and never returned.
No charges have been filed yet against Chandler M. Halderson in the death of Bart A. Halderson, 50. His wife and Chandler’s mother, Krista, 53, remains missing. The three shared a home on Oak Springs Circle that is now considered a crime scene.
Dane County Court Commissioner Mark Fremgen set bond in Chandler’s case at $10,000 Monday, rejecting pleas from Deputy District Attorney William Brown for $1 million bond after Chandler’s attorney, Catherine Dorl, noted no charges have been filed against her client since he was booked into the Dane County Jail on Thursday night on a tentative felony charge of providing false information on a missing person.
Late Monday afternoon, authorities added three more tentative felony charges, according to the Dane County Jail roster: First-degree intentional homicide, hiding a corpse and mutilating a corpse.
Brown said formal charges are expected Thursday and called the situation “very unique,” but acknowledged he had no reason to believe Chandler was a flight risk.
“At this point we have an extremely complex investigation,” he said. “We have a defendant who had six days to hide evidence of his crime, and lied to police in the course of this missing persons investigation, which he instigated. He has lied dozens of times in the course of this investigation. He is now seen leaving the area in which the dismembered remains of his father were found with gunshot wounds.”
Dorl said that while the case may be unusual, there is no exception to the rule against holding someone who hasn’t been charged with a crime.
“We don’t detain people without charges being filed,” she said. “It’s sort of a bedrock of what we do in the United States.”
She said her client is a lifelong resident of Wisconsin and an Eagle Scout and presents very little risk of fleeing. She asked that he be released without having to post any bail.
Earlier Monday, the Medical Examiner’s Office identified the remains found Thursday in the town of Cottage Grove as those of Bart Halderson, saying “preliminary results from the autopsy confirm that Mr. Halderson died from homicidal violence including firearm injury.”
According to investigators, Chandler Halderson reported his parents missing on Wednesday, telling them the couple had traveled on July 2 to their cabin near White Lake for the Fourth of July weekend with an unknown couple and hadn’t returned. According to a probable cause statement in the case filed Friday, Chandler also reported his mother sent him a text on July 4 saying they had arrived in White Lake and intended to attend a parade there.
Investigators, though, later determined that there was no parade that day in White Lake and Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said the Langlade County Sheriff’s Office found “no signs of immediate activity” at the family cabin.
Barrett said Friday that interviews with “friends, families and neighbors” of the couple turned up information that led detectives to the place in the town of Cottage Grove where Bart Halderson’s remains were found on Thursday.
The probable cause statement and Brown said witnesses placed Chandler at an acquaintance’s address in the town on July 5, when he was seen driving his vehicle in reverse with the hatchback open in a field near a wooded area. A human torso belonging to Bart Halderson was later found in that same area, according to the statement and the Medical Examiner’s office.
Brown said during the bail hearing that it doesn’t appear Chandler’s parents ever left Dane County, and that police found a bloody tarp Bart Halderson’s body was presumably wrapped in and that Chandler had asked for cleaning products from people he knew.
Barrett said during a press conference Monday that a search of the Haldersons’ home begun on Saturday was continuing, as was the search of the area where Bart Halderson’s body was found.
Asked if he believed Krista Halderson would be found alive, he said “we are optimistic in regards to her whereabouts and where she is at and we will let the evidence of this investigation tell us otherwise.” He described Krista as white, about 5-foot-3 with red hair and blue eyes and weighing about 155 pounds.
He urged anyone with information on her whereabouts to contact his office’s tip line at 608-284-6900. Callers can remain anonymous.
“No tip is too small and we will investigate every tip and lead to the fullest of our capabilities,” he said.
Windsor village president Bob Wipperfurth said Bart Halderson had served on the village’s Oak Springs Lake Protection District but that he did not know him personally.