Trial opens for Wisconsin man accused of killing parents

Chandler Halderson is on trial for first-degree intentional homicide and mutilating and hiding a corpse in the death of his parents Bart and Krista Halderson (pictured above).

Dane County assistant district attorney William Brown opened the trial of Chandler M. Halderson on Tuesday morning with a detailed backstory of the defendant’s actions and then a timeline of early July 2021 events surrounding the murder and dismemberment of Bart and Krista Halderson of Windsor.

Chandler is the 23-year-son of the couple. He is charged with two felony counts each of first degree intentional homicide. Providing false information about a kidnapped or missing person, mutilating a corpse, and hiding a corpse.

Brown began the prosecution’s opening statements with pictures of Bart and Krista Halderson and their Village of Windsor home. He said the couple had two sons, Chandler, and an older brother, Mitchell. He said Mitchell Halderson did information technology work for a local company and led a normal life. “He was doing adult things,” Brown said. Brown contrasted that by saying Chandler was living at home in his room.

Because of Chandler Halderson’s request for a speedy trial, this case has moved quickly through the system. Brown took the jury back to the summer and reminded them July 4 fell on a Sunday, causing some communities to celebrate holiday events on different dates.

Brown said the case he plans to make begins on July 7 when Chandler Halderson went to the Dane County Sheriff’s Department precinct to file missing person reports.

Brown said Chandler Halderson’s story varied in his first report with vague details about who the couple left with, and what items they took along to a supposed weekend at a White Lake, Langlade County, cabin. Brown showed the jury a screenshot a text conversation Chandler told deputies was the last message from his mother. It said they arrived safely at the cabin and planned to attend the July 4 parade. Brown later showed the jury an image of a flyer saying the parade was July 3.

Brown then gave the jury background of Chandler Halderson’s life as he portrayed it to others before saying none of the stories he told about himself were true. Halderson had no job, was not attending Madison College (MATC), was not moving to Florida for a job, and had not suffered a severe concussion.

Brown said because Chandler Halderson made the missing person reports and was the last person known to contact his parents, he became an immediate focus as the search for the couple expanded. The Langlade County Sheriff’s Department checked the cabin and found no activity while investigators started looking into Chandler Halderson’s activities on the holiday weekend.

His activities included spending time with his girlfriend at her family’s farm and then returning the next day alone to use the outdoor pool. Instead of using the pool, he was found walking out of the woods near the grassy field and debris pile where Bart Halderson’s remains were found.

Brown said the remains located there included a chopped and cut human torso, with gunshots in the back.

“The farm, an Eden of sorts, turned into a crime scene,” Brown said.

Brown said and showed pictures of a garbage can with a tarp, and a collection of cutting tools and blades found in a discarded oil barrel. Brown showed a picture from October of the murder weapon, which was hidden in a nearby barn.

Brown said Chandler and his girlfriend were both interviewed by the investigators on July 8 before he was charged with the crime. He described the girlfriend as an unknowing and unwilling accomplice to the crimes. “She did nothing wrong. She liked them,” Brown said.

Brown said the girlfriend showed an odd July 3 SnapChat from Chandler Halderson, who told the woman he was doing chores at the house, but a GPS track of the message placed him in a forest along the banks of the Wisconsin River. Brown showed the jury pictures of the location, including a 2020 shot of Chandler Halderson hanging from a tree with a machete in his hand. The tree is near the spot where Krista Halderson’s remains were located. Brown said the remains were her legs, crudely cut apart in the same fashion as Bart Halderson.

Brown said while investigators were looking for clues, Chandler Halderson was also active. He went to neighbors asking if they had any home security footage of the home and would frantically call the sheriff’s department asking if they had found anything. Brown said Chandler Halderson was also using Google searches to research various aspects of the crime and a Wisconsin Court of Appeals case about a similar murder. “At the same time he reported his parents missing, he was doing legal research,” Brown said.

Brown returned to the text message sent from Krista Halderson’s phone to Chandler Halderson’s phone. Her phone was ultimately found on a shelf in the garage, wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in a shoe.

Brown then explained how cell phone usage can be tracked based on what tower the signal pings off. Investigators triangulated where Krista Halderson’s cell message came from and it was the Halderson home.

Brown returned to Chandler Halderson’s back story and the elaborate efforts he made to “catfish” his family and girlfriend. Halderson used a second cellphone and fake email addresses to convince them he was working remotely for a company, was not paid because of payroll issues, was attending Madison College, and he was hired for a job at SpaceX in Florida.

Brown said Chandler Halderson was an online video game player. Because of the time when he played, he befriended a soldier named Andrew Smith while the man was stationed in Germany. Chandler Halderson liked to use a Russian-style SXS rifle as a player. When Smith returned to the United States, he visited Halderson and gifted him the SXS rifle and 400 rounds of ammunition.

Brown said Smith is also not a suspect in the murders. He showed a photo Smith took of the rifle with Halderson’s driver’s license as proof of gifting the ownership.

Brown explained how he felt Chandler Halderson’s fake story about schooling and a Florida job offer from SpaceX unraveled as Bart Halderson called the school. A calendar entry for a meeting about the college on July 1 from 3 to 5 p.m. is the probable time of the first murder.

The jury was selected Monday. A pool of 18 will hear the case before the actual 12 jurors deliberate. Judge John Hyland opened the trial with instructions to the jury about their role in the case, the rules for serving on the jury, and an explanation of the charges against Chandler Halderson.

Recommended for you