Chandler Halderson is charged with first-degree homicide, hiding a corpse and mutilating a corpse, following an appearance in Dane County Circuit Court on July 15.
Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett announced the charges against the 23-year-old Windsor man in a press conference about an hour later, as well as announcing that a tip to law enforcement had led to the discovery of human remains on DNR land near Sauk City.
Halderson is accused of killing his father, Bart Halderson, 50, while his mother, Krista Halderson, 53, remains missing.
Barrett re-emphasized that this is an active and ongoing investigation, asking for the public's help in contacting investigators with any potentially relevant information.
"No tip is too small to be reported," said Barrett.
Suspicious from the start
On the morning of July 7 Chandler Halderson walked into the Dane County Sheriff's Office Northeast Precinct in Windsor and reported his parents, whom he lived with, had been missing since allegedly going to their cabin on White Lake early July 2.
On July 8 human remains, later identified as belonging to Bart Halderson, were discovered in the area of the Town of Cottage Grove, east of Madison. Investigators were drawn to the area following a report of suspicious activity by Chandler Halderson in that area.
Chandler Halderson was taken into custody that day on suspicion of giving false information to law enforcement and held in Dane County Jail. According to the criminal complaint, after he had been interviewed by a detective and had invoked his right to an attorney, he told the officer unprovoked: "What if I want to tell you everything with an attorney there to guide me?"
Chandler Halderson's first court appearance was a bond hearing on suspicion of providing false information, at which he was ordered to be held on a $10,000 bond, as opposed to the $1 million bond requested by the Dane County District Attorney's Office. The following Thursday, Halderson appeared for a second bond hearing with formal charges including first-degree homicide and the amount was raised to $1 million.
Formal charges and a gruesome narrative
That afternoon the Dane County District Attorney's Office filed the 14 page criminal complaint outlining suspicious circumstantial evidence of Chandler Halderson's behavior in the days before and after his reporting his parents missing and his eventual arrest.
Chandler Halderson told authorities that his parents went to the cabin early in the morning on July 2, bringing tools because of an emergency repair issue, but he said that he didn't know what the problem was. He reported that they left with friends, leaving their own vehicles at home, but couldn't say who those friends were.
A friend who had gone to the aforementioned cabin with the Haldersons at other times told investigators that Krista Halderson would not leave her vehicle behind even if going with others. And while Chandler Halderson said they brought a substantial quantity of alcohol, that same friend said that the Haldersons were not drinkers and that when they were all at the cabin together, there would be one bottle of wine at dinner split between all of them.
In the July 15 bond hearing Assistant District Attorney Andrea Raymond explained that she did not plan to be explicit in her arguments unless specifically asked by the judge.
"These are very serious and very violent charges and more charges are expected as the investigation develops" said Raymond. "Because of the vast steps this defendant has taken to hide his crimes, and the broad spectrum of lies that police have uncovered, there are substantial concerns about his willingness to come to court."
Raymond pointed to evidence that Chandler Halderson attempted to conceal or destroy relevant video evidence and produced "a web of lies that would be impressive if it weren't so tragic."
Defense Attorney Catherine Dorl renewed her protest to Chandler Halderson's having been kept in custody for a week without charges being brought against him, arguing that much of the evidence in the complaint was available in the past week. Dorl also highlighted that Chandler Halderson has no criminal record and among other achievements in the community has been an Eagle Scout.
"This is an ongoing case," Raymond argued. "Ms. Dorl brings up Boy Scouts and harped on him being an Eagle Scout on Monday, well, in this case, you're going to learn that there is evidence of rope and knots being tied such as that an Eagle Scout might do."
More remains found
As on the previous Friday, when Barrett answered questions about human remains and the direction of the case, saying that they would be waiting for results from the Medical Examiner's Office, one reporter asked if the mission of finding a missing person was now a matter of recovery.
"At this moment we are optimistic that Krista is alive and well," said Barrett, "and we will let the evidence from our investigation tell us otherwise."
Again, anyone with information about what may have happened to the Haldersons between July 1 and July 8 are encouraged to contact the Dane County Sheriff's Office at 608-255-2345.
Meanwhile, the Halderson home at Oak Springs Circle continues to be circled by law enforcement vehicles as investigators process the house for evidence.