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By Marcelena Spencer and Iris Carreras
/ CBS News
In July 2021, Dane County Sheriff’s detectives Sabrina Sims and Brian Shunk were assigned to investigate the disappearance of Windsor, Wisconsin, couple Bart and Krista Halderson. Their 23-year-old son had reported them missing, telling police they went to the family cabin for the Fourth of July holiday weekend but never returned.
Bart and Krista Halderson were the proud parents of two sons, Mitchell, 24, who worked in tech, and Chandler, 23, who was in college studying for an IT degree and living at home. Chandler had big dreams and was excited about a lucrative job he had landed with SpaceX, owned by one of the richest people in the world, Elon Musk.
Everything seemed to be going well for the Haldersons, so when the couple seemed to just disappear there was real concern. “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty reports on how detectives solved the case in “The Snapchat Clue.”
Police interviewed neighbors, friends and family and eventually got a break. Chandler’s girlfriend, Cathryn “Cat” Mellender, allowed investigators to download data from her phone. Sims heard that Chandler had cheated on Mellender in the past, so she would keep tabs on him via Snapchat. The popular app allows users to track their friends’ location in real time. Early on July 3, Mellender opened the app and spotted Chandler at a remote location near the Wisconsin River and saved a screenshot of it.
The app placed Chandler at that remote location during the time his parents were missing. Detectives later decided to search that area and to their surprise, they discovered human remains. The remains belonged to Chandler’s missing mother Krista Halderson.
The remains of Bart Halderson, Chandler’s father, were discovered at a farm located about 20 miles away from the Halderson home. The farm owner told detectives she was surprised to see Chandler on her property. She told police she saw him coming out of the farm’s wood line. When deputies searched the area, they found Bart’s remains. Bart Halderson had been shot at least twice in the back.
Chandler Halderson was charged with the murder of his parents, Bart and Krista. He was also charged with dismembering them and lying to police. He pleaded not guilty.
But why would Chandler kill his parents?
In January 2022, his trial began. Prosecutors told the jury Chandler murdered his parents because they had discovered he had been lying to them.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Chandler, without his parents knowing, had flunked out of college. And that job at SpaceX? It was made up. Prosecutors believe that on the day Chandler murdered his parents, his father had scheduled a meeting for the two of them to meet at the college he claimed he was attending.
Prosecutors also showed the jury a video that a neighbor’s security camera captured the day they believe Bart and Krista were killed. It was a flickering light from a window in the Halderson home. Prosecutors say the flickering light was from the Halderson’s fireplace. A forensic expert later testified that more than 200 human bone fragments were discovered in the Halderson’s fireplace.
Chandler Halderson’s defense team argued the prosecution didn’t have enough evidence to prove their case. They claim no one really knows what happened inside the Halderson home or how Bart and Krista were killed. Chandler did not testify at trial.
After two hours of deliberations, a jury found Chandler Halderson guilty on all charges. At sentencing, Chandler told the judge he had something to say and asked if there were any lawyers willing to take on his appeal.
Chandler was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He has a new lawyer, but has not yet filed an appeal.
First published on November 4, 2022 / 8:21 AM
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