An unemployed Wisconsin man has been found guilty of murdering and dismembering his parents after they caught him lying about being a police scuba diver.
It took two hours Wednesday for a jury to convict Chandler Halderson, 23, of killing father Bart and mother Krista Halderson in the summer of 2021. Chandler was also found guilty of providing false information on a kidnapping, as well as mutilating and hiding their corpses.
Prosecutors say Halderson killed his parents July 1, 2021 after his father discovered he’d been lying about attending Madison Area Technical College – one of a series of lies prosecutors say he’d long been telling everyone, including that he worked for aerospace company SpaceX, as a police scuba diver and for the American Family Insurance company.
In reality, they say, Halderson was unemployed and had dropped out of school.
The 23-year-old now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for first degree intentional homicide, as per state law. Chandler Halderson is tentatively scheduled for sentencing on either March 17 or 18. The court revoked his bail.
Chandler Halderson sits in Dane County Circuit Court in Wisconsin. He was found guilty of several charges, including first-degree murder
Chandler Halderson was found guilty of murdering his parents, Bart and Krista Halderson
Halderson will likely face sentencing in March. Wisconsin mandates that first degree homicide requires a life sentence
Authorities accused the younger Halderson of shooting his father in the back of the head just hours before the two were scheduled to meet with Madison College officials to talk about the son’s status at the school, after Bart found out that Chandler had not attended classes for more than a semester.
Nearly a week later, Halderson reported his parents missing, claiming they had failed to return from a weekend trip to their cabin.
Bart Halderson´s remains were found in rural Dane County on July 8, the day Chandler Halderson was arrested. Authorities said he was shot once before his body was dismembered. Six days later, investigators found Krista Halderson´s remains along the Wisconsin River in Sauk County.
Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett extended sympathies to the family of Bart, 53, and Krista, 50, following the reading of the verdict.
‘Throughout this investigation and trial, they have been in the forefront of our thoughts,’ Barrett said. ‘This is one of the most extensive investigations the Dane County Sheriff’s Office has faced. Our detectives, deputies and civilian staff worked tirelessly to determine what really happened to Bart and Krista. I could not be more proud of their work.’
Prosecutors used remains found in a fireplace of the Haldersons as evidence their son murdered them
Detectives found several tools believed to be used in the murder, including scissors and a shotgun
Deputy District Attorney William Brown called the investigation both ‘complex’ and ‘very unique.’
Chandler told police his parents planned to spend the Fourth of July weekend at their cabin in Langlade County with an unknown couple, but never returned home.
However, during interviews with investigators, the couple’s family, friends and neighbors placed Chandler at the rural property where Bart’s remains were found, Law & Crime reports.
Witnesses told police they saw Chandler park his vehicle on the property, saying he was seen entering and exiting the nearby woods.
Brown told jurors that ashes collected from the fireplace at the couple’s home in Dane County were found to contain human remains, including facial and knee bones, as well as fragments of human skulls.
Dane County Assistant District Attorney William Brown represented the county
Defense attorney Catherine Dorl speaks on behalf of her client, Chandler Halderson. They maintained his innocence but called no witnesses
‘He had burned his parents’ heads in the fireplace,’ Brown said.
The prosecution’s detailed hour-long opening statement, which included photos and slides, was followed by the defense’s 10-minute presentation, the main thrust of which was that the prosecution would not be able to prove Halderson’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which would be necessary to convict him.
Halderson was arrested on July 8 and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in September
‘Chandler Halderson did not murder his parents,’ said attorney Catherine Dorl.
She described the 23-year-old college dropout as a ‘normal kid’ who liked to play video games and spend time with his girlfriend, and who ‘lived peacefully’ at his parents’ home until their deaths.
However, the defense never called any witnesses.
Halderson was initially charged with lying to the authorities, after police found discrepancies in his story, including a claim that his parents had planned to attend a parade in White Lake when no parade had been scheduled.
Detectives reviewed Chandler Halderson’s Google queries from June 30 through July 8 and found that he had searched for multiple phrases, including ‘Wisconsin dismembered body found,’ ‘Woman’s body found in Wisconsin,’ and ‘Body found Wisconsin,’ the complaint states.
At that point, authorities hadn’t yet found either of his parents’ remains.
Halderson’s charges were later upgraded to counts of murder and mutilation of a corpse. He pleaded not guilty to all charges in September.
Bart’s dismembered remains were found on July 8, in rural Dane County. Krista’s remains were found six days later along the Wisconsin River