Bart and Krista Halderson are the parents of Chandler Halderson, the Wisconsin man whose is on trial, accused of murdering his mother and father, dismembering their bodies, and discarding their remains after a failed attempt to burn them in the family fireplace.
You can read the criminal complaint against Chandler Halderson here. You can see Chandler Halderson trial exhibit photos throughout this article.
Halderson is on trial in Dane County, Wisconsin, charged with murdering and mutilating both parents.
Chandler’s parents were father Bart and mother Krista Halderson. On LinkedIn, Chandler claimed he was a recent technical college graduate in computer technology who worked as a lifeguard and teaching assistant, according to his page. He wrote on the page that he is an Eagle Scout.
What’s the motive? According to Madison.com, prosecutors allege that “his father discovered his son had been lying for months or years about having a job and going to school.” They say that Halderson murdered Bart, 50, and Krista, 53, in the family’s home, where he also lived, on July 1, 2021.
They say that, after he murdered and dismembered his parents, he tried to burn their body parts in the family’s fireplace before dumping the body parts at a farm and wooded area. Graphic photos of Bart’s “shirtless, headless torso” were shown in court, but Halderson “appeared to show no emotion,” according to Madison.com.
According to the criminal complaint, Bart was shot. Only parts of Krista’s body were found.
According to Madison.com, Halderson’s ex-girlfriend Cathryn Mellender testified that she thought Halderson was going to school at a technical school and working at American Family Insurance and was going to be working for Elon Musk at SpaceX in Florida.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Halderson, Who Told the Media ‘We’ll Find Them,’ Reported His Parents Missing, Saying They Didn’t Return From a July 4th Holiday Weekend
It was Halderson who reported his parents missing. “We’ll find them,” Chandler Halderson said of his parents to WKOW-TV. “It’s better to not listen to the negative theories,” he said, adding that his mother texted him to say the couple arrived at their cabin safely but then vanished.
He added, “They’re maybe at a casino, their phones off, no reception. Maybe they’re on a boat, having some fun with their friends.”
He was first charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Bart A. Halderson, false information on kidnapped-missing persons, mutilating, and hiding a corpse. After his mother’s body parts were later found, the complaint was amended to add similar charges relating to her death.
“Our investigation began on Wednesday, July 7th, when Chandler reported his parents missing at approximately 11:30 am that day. According to Chandler, his parents had left their Village of Windsor home early Friday morning with an unknown couple to spend the 4th of July holiday weekend at their cabin in White Lake, WI, but did not return as expected,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote.
“Our investigators immediately began efforts to locate the Haldersons, including reaching out to the Langlade County Sheriff’s Office to check the property in White Lake, but no one was located at that residence.”
The initial missing person’s statement from authorities read:
The Dane County Sheriff’s Office is asking for assistance from the public in locating a missing couple from the Village of Windsor. Earlier today, a family member reported Bart and Krista Halderson were last seen on Thursday, July 1, 2021 at their home. They planned a trip to Langlade County, Wisconsin this weekend and family has been unable to confirm if they arrived safely. There is no vehicle associated with couple. Bart is 50 years old and Krista is 53 years old. If anyone has information on the couple, please contact the Dane County Communications Center at 608.255.2345 or the Dane County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 608.284.6900.
The criminal complaint says that, at 11:25 a.m. on July 7, 2021, Chandler Halderson came to the police station in Dane County, Wisconsin and asked to file a missing person’s report. He said he lived at Oak Springs Circle in the Village of Windsor, in Dane County, near Wisconsin’s state Capitol.
He said he “wished to report his two parents missing, stating they had left their residence around Friday and had not been seen since.” He believed they possibly went to a cabin they owned in Langlade County, Wisconsin.
He identified his parents as Bart A. Halderson and Krista R. Halderson and said they were picked up by friends around 6 a.m. to go to the cabin. He said he didn’t know who the friends were but that his parents “were going to be going up to the cabin to work on a water pump and a fire pit which had possible been damaged by a recent storm.”
He said they were supposed to return Sunday or Monday but they had not come home and weren’t answering their cell phones, the complaint says.
It further alleged:
The deputy went to the family home and noticed that there appeared to be sections removed of the flooring as well as outlines of a half wall right next to the front door which was no longer there. Chandler said he had a girlfriend, CMM, and her family had a farm in the Cottage Grove area nearby. They saw multiple calls from CMM’s mother’s girlfriend, CAL.
Chandler’s ex-girlfriend was later identified in court as Cathryn Mellender.
Chandler told the detective he helped his parents pack up tools, including a pipe wrench, hatchet and gas cans for the chainsaw. He said his mom texted him on Sunday July 4.
He said his mother texted that they were going to White Lake for a parade. He said the lack of contact was not normal. The detective noted that the parents’ vehicles were in the garage. Chandler stated he had driven both vehicles since they left. He said he had concussion symptoms and that his mother was on medications.
The detective found a note that, according to Chandler, had been left by his mother. It said, “I hope you’re doing okay and if you need anything contact” a friend.
A co-worker PS told the deputy it was unusual for Krista to not show up for work and Krista was a very responsible person. Krista had not shown up for work on Friday, July 2, 2021, and it was very unlike her. No one was able to get into contact with her.
This man decided to stop over at the family home and saw both vehicles in the garage, which he considered unusual. He looked through the front door and there was a table on its side. He eventually spoke to Chandler, who had just gotten out of the shower with a piece of gauze or bandage on his foot.
He said his parents were picked up by another couple around 5 a.m. for some type of problem in the cabin. He said that his foot was injured when he had thrown a ball or was playing with the dogs and had broken the fireplace. (During the trial, prosecutors alleged a piece of human skull was found in the fireplace, according to journalist Sierra Gillespie.)
Chandler said something to the extent of that there was “blood everywhere” inside the home as a result of this cut.
On July 4, Chandler told this man that he had “gotten a hold of them,” referring to his parents. He said everything was fine and the parents would return Tuesday.
On July 7, detectives spoke with a woman who invited Chandler to her family home for dinner. She said Chandler’s claim of Bart and Krista going to the cabin with an unknown other couple was completely out of character. Chandler claimed Bart took a large amount of cash to the cabin which was very unlikely because Bart was a “cheapskate.” Chandler claimed his parents took alcohol beverages to the cabin which was out of character and unlikely. They were light drinkers.
She described Krista as a very doting parent who was very involved in both of her sons’ lives.
The house was well-kept. There was a piece of glass missing from the fireplace. Chandler said the dogs broke it and showed them were he got a piece of glass stuck in his left big toe. They did not see any sign of blood everywhere.
2. The Father’s Mutilated Torso Was Discovered Under a Mound
Police contacted Chandler’s girlfriend’s mother’s girlfriend, CALL, the complaint says. In court, her name was given as Cresent L’Sai.
She lived in Cottage Grove in Dane County. She said Chandler came to the property on July 5, 2021, a Monday, with his family’s blue Subaru Outback.
The complaint alleges:
Halderson is accused of saying that he was not okay because he was having problems reading numbers, and he was getting lost a lot. He asked to go swimming at their pool and was gone 1-1.5 hours but when he returned, he was not wet and the cover was not off the pool.
He was parked next to a large shed.
After that, she saw him in the pool appearing to be washing off. They had previously spoken about target shooting, and he mentioned he had a rifle he could bring to target shoot.
She reported seeing vultures circling above the woods on her property.
Authorities searched the property.
They saw a slight “mound” covered with foliage, sticks and leaves and recovered a human torso. They could see human remains that had been mutilated and dismembered.
The torso belonged to a white male. It was clothed in gray cargo-style pants, a black belt, with a nylon black rope around the waist, with 3-4 feet of the rope loose and had no shirt on.
They found a tank that had scissors, a saw blade and possibly bolt cutters in it. The saw blade had a slimy appearance that could be fatty tissue.
On July 8, Chandler called and said that he found spare keys for the cabin.
He said the past Wednesday was a “bad day.” He and his father were watching “Wheel of Fortune,” and his mother was at work. He tossed the ball and smashed the glass with the dog’s help. That set his dad off. They tried to clean it up. Chandler was injured, and his dad was mad.
At that point, Chandler was placed under arrest.
Chandler said at one point that he “didn’t feel bad about what I did,” the complaint alleges.
The officer noted there was bruising to the lower portions of Chandler’s legs and knee. There were scratches on his legs.
His girlfriend CMM said that she went to her mom’s to grab hydrogen peroxide and a Swiffer because they needed to clean up the glass Chandler broke on the fireplace. There was one glass pane which was broken. She didn’t see a lot of blood.
She said the house smelled like dogs. She said Chandler used to be on a shooting team in college and confirmed that Chandler had a gun.
A friend told police Chandler acquired 20 rounds of armor piercing ammunition.
The male torso was identified as Bart Halderson. The wound entered through the abdominal cavity, hit the spinal cord. He was shot. He was alive when struck by gunfire. The wound was fatal. The manner of death homicide.
According to Channel 3000, prosecutors unveiled additional evidence during the trial. For example, they said they found a Target bag with bloody rags on the property where Bart’s remains were found. Chandler’s then girlfriend testified that she had brought the bag to the Halderson home because she had ”picked up items from Target” and left it there.
Prosecutors also indicated that a rifle was discovered in the shed three months later.
3. Krista’s Mutilated Legs Were Found Next in a Wooded Area
The descriptions in the complaint as to Krista’s body are equally horrific.
On July 10, 2021, another woman reported seeing a young man ages 20 to 30 years old walking away from a car and walking up Old Highway 60, the complaint says. He was wearing a backpack.
His vehicle was parked by the woods. On July 14, 2021, a portion of unidentified human remains were found in that area, the complaint says.
The remains were located about 200 yards to the west of highway 188, just south of Old 60 Road.
Upon stepping into the wooded area, the detective observed a human leg severed near the thigh area. Next to the intact leg appeared to be a larger chunk of rotten human flesh, possibly a piece of a thigh. In the same area was a left foot.
About 10-15 feet southeast of where the leg was found, a slightly bigger than a football sized body part was located. A bone was protruding from it; it appeared to be another severed human body part. Altogether four pieces of remains were found; two human legs, one separated into three pieces.
The remains were sent to the state crime lab. They were identified as Krista R. Halderson. Detectives later found Bart’s driver’s license and Krista’s, as well as their cell phones wrapped in paper towel and foil in the garage.
Authorities searched Halderson’s Google account and found that he searched at July 8 things like “body found Wisconsin” and “woman’s body found in Wisconsin” and “Wisconsin dismembered body found” and “body found in Milwaukee River 2021” and “Bart and Krista,” the complaint alleges.
The Google searches occurred before any remains were found.
4. Bart Halderson Was an Accountant & Tax Manager
Bart Halderson was a certified public accountant and tax manager in Madison, according to his LinkedIn page.
On Facebook, Bart Halderson wrote that he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduated from Valders High School, and lived in DeForest, Wisconsin. His most recent post was from 2012 and was a graphic about a car show. No obvious social media pages could be found for Krista.
Chandler had an old Facebook page under the name Chaz Halderson but it has little visible on it, save for a group swimming photo. His profile picture showed him with a dog and wearing headphones.
The couple lived in a middle class home worth about $370,000.
Prosecutor William Brown said in a bail hearing for Halderson that, when Chandler reported his parents were missing to the Sheriff’s Department, he “made a great deal of statements indicating where he thought his parents were, sending police on a wild goose chase throughout the state of Wisconsin.. he told the police a web of lies.”
Brown said that Chandler even indicated that there were messages between him and his parents when they were gone.
Eventually, he reported the parents missing after they had been gone for days at that point, said Brown. A witness who knows Chandler reported seeing Halderson’s vehicle with him in it parked at an odd location on their rural property. She reported that to police.
They performed an autopsy and confirmed Bart died “by homicidal violence by gunshots. We have an extremely complex investigation. We had a defendant who had six days to hide evidence,” alleged Brown, adding, “He has lied dozens of times during the course of this investigation.”
The court commissioner said: “Mr. Halderson has led a fairly exemplary life accomplishing the rank of Eagle Scout, he has no record to speak of, he’s a life-long resident. I don’t believe it would be appropriate to set such a substantial bond in such a case with so many unknowns.”
A relative, Blake Halderson, wrote on the Sheriff’s Department’s comment thread, “Thank you everyone for your prayers and any help you can give in finding them. So hard waiting for updates and not being able to do anything to help. Also appreciate all the work law enforcement is doing to find Bart and Krista. We have always been big backers of the police but never thought we would be in a situation like this and need their help so much. Thank you all.”
He added, “All I can say is nothing makes any sense and we are waiting for any news. I am sure the police are doing everything possible to locate them but do appreciate all your comments and prayers.”
A woman wrote under the comment, “I was their veterinarian in Plymouth for many years. Love them, so kind, caring and gentle. Hoping beyond hope that they are found safe and well.💞”
None of the Haldersons has a criminal history in Wisconsin.
5. Chandler Halderson Gave an Interview to a Local Television Station
Before his arrest, Halderson gave an interview to Fox 47’s Adam Duxter. He said, “My last message I got from them, they were going to White Lake for the 4th of July, there’s some festivities that go around there, better drink prices at bars, stuff like that. White Lake, Wisconsin. Their plan, to my knowledge, they were going to Langlade County to a cabin, their cabin. Along the way, they could’ve stopped many places, but I wouldn’t know all of them. But it’s about 3 hours north of Madison, or Dane County.”
He added, “They brought, or they were picked up by their friends, who I never got the name of. I assumed it was someone I was aware of, like the close neighbors of theirs up the street or their best friends down on the east side, so that’s what I assumed, I never really asked any further into it. And so they got picked up and they all went up there, by like another couple.”
Read the full interview here.
On LinkedIn, Halderson wrote that he was a student at Madison Area Technical College. In 2021, he wrote that he received an associate’s degree in “Computer/Information Technology Administration and Management.”
He wrote, “The majority of my experience consists of lifeguarding and technology, but it doesn’t stop there. I have a strong understanding of solar panels and the installation process that goes with them. I also have experience in teaching and leadership from when I was a teachers assistant for an installation course at a local college.”
In 2020, he wrote that he worked as a teaching assistant for two months at MATC, he wrote: “I created an online class for students to work on assignments and tests as well as assisted the instructor with teaching and held office hours for questions.”
From 2014-2017, he wrote that he worked as a swim instructor at the YMCA in Sheboygan and Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, noting, “I have taught swimming at the YMCA while also being a lifeguard for 3 years.”