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Secrets & Lies: The Murders of Bart & Krista Halderson

Updated: Dec 11, 2022

Bart and Krista Halderson of Windsor, Wisconsin enjoyed a quiet life with their two sons. The couple married in 1994 and welcomed son Mitchell in 1996 and Chandler in 1998. While the boys were growing up, Krista was a stay-at-home mom while Bart had a successful career as an accountant. Once the boys were older, Krista returned to the workforce as an administrative assistant at an automotive company. Their sons were now young adults and seemed to be doing well for themselves. Then in 2021, a tragedy rocked the family and their community.



By 2021, Mitchell was engaged and working in the technology field. Younger brother Chandler was attending Madison College studying for an IT degree. Chandler had a girlfriend of two years, Cat, and was working for an insurance company from home throughout the pandemic. Chandler’s parents were ecstatic when he announced he had been offered a job at SpaceX, the organization owned by Elon Musk. As Chandler began making plans to move to Florida with his girlfriend, he continued to work from his parent’s home where he resided.

Just months before he was supposed to move to Florida, Chandler fell down a flight of stairs. Pictures show him wearing a neck brace following the accident. Chandler told his family that he had a brain bleed, hematoma, spinal damage, nerve damage affecting his legs and preventing him from driving or flying, and that he needed a colostomy bag. Because of his injuries, Chandler had to pass up his job at SpaceX and would remain living with his parents in Wisconsin.

Bart and Krista were loving and supportive parents, but they were growing concerned about their youngest son. Although he was working fulltime, albeit remotely, he never seemed to have any money and was not paying rent. According to Chandler, there had been a mix up with his paychecks. He claimed the insurance company had him down as an hourly employee instead of a salary employee. Then, he explained that the company had the incorrect direct deposit information on file. Finally, he said that the back pay owed was much that the bank thought it was fraudulent. As an accountant, Bart was growing suspicious.

On July 2nd, Krista Halderson didn’t show up for work. This was highly unusual for the reliable employee. Her co-worker and friend began to worry about her and tried to call her many times without a response. Finally, he went to the Halderson home to check on his friend. Chandler was there and explained that his parents had left the day before to spend the July 4th weekend at their cabin in the northern part of Wisconsin. Chandler explained that there is poor cell service up there, so she probably didn’t receive her friend’s text messages. Although it was odd that Krista hadn’t informed work she wouldn’t be in, it was very plausible that she and her husband would spend the holiday at the family’s cabin.

Over the July 4th weekend, Chandler celebrated with his girlfriend Cat and her family. The couple enjoyed fireworks, used the family pool, and enjoyed the weekend. Cat stated that Chandler was able to exercise his legs in the pool, helping him recover from his injuries. She stated they had a great time, and nothing seemed off. Chandler told her his parents went up to the cabin and were due back Monday night or Tuesday morning.

After Monday and Tuesday passed without the couple returning home, Chandler grew concerned. On Wednesday July 7th, 2021, Chandler filed a missing person report on his parents with the Dane County Sheriff’s Office. He explained to authorities that a couple had picked his parents up on the 1st, all of them heading to the cabin. For this reason, both Bart and Krista’s vehicles remained at the Halderson home. Chandler said he did not recognize the couple his parents left with. As the search began, Chandler went door to door asking neighbors if they had seen anything. They had not.

Chandler shared a text message from his mother he received confirming their arrival at the cabin. However, Mitchell and his fiancé drove to the cabin and were met by law enforcement. The cabin’s yard was overgrown, everything was locked up, and there were no indications that anyone had been at the cabin in a long time. There were no signs of Bart and Krista. Authorities were starting to become suspicious of Chandler’s story.

Just as Chandler had canvassed the neighborhood, so did police. They collected video and images from Ring cameras and security cameras in the neighborhood. After reviewing all the footage, it was apparent that Bart & Krista never left their home on Friday. Through one of the videos, flickering from the Halderson’s fireplace can be seem on Friday afternoon. Why would anyone use a fireplace in the middle of summer?

Chandler’s girlfriend, Cat, and her family were also questioned. They were very cooperative with the investigation, explaining that they wanted to help Chandler find his parents. Cat’s parents said they were surprised a few days after the holiday when they saw Chandler back at their farm, walking out from a wooded area. He told them that he wanted to use the pool again to exercise his legs. Police decided to search that wooded area, making a grisly discovery. They found a male torso.

In the meantime, Chandler was being questioned by law enforcement about the lies that were not adding up. He eventually requested a lawyer, ending the interview. However, police could now prove that he had lied to investigators about his parent’s whereabouts. He was arrested for providing false information about a missing person. Two days later, the torso was positively identified as Bart Halderson. Chandler was then charged with murder, dismemberment of a corpse, and concealing a homicide by hiding the body.

Cat still believed that Chandler was innocent and continued to offer whatever assistance she could to help prove it. She gave investigators permission to download data from her phone. Cat had been suspicious that Chandler may have been cheating on her, so she frequently tracked his location through SnapChat. On her phone, police found a screenshot she captured from SnapChat on July 3rd. It showed Chandler’s location to be near the Wisconsin River. Upon searching the area, police found partial remains belonging to Krista Halderson.

With Chandler under arrest, the investigation into the deaths of Bart and Krista continued. On Chandler’s phone, police found numerous google searches dated between June 30th and July 8th for topics including “Wisconsin dismembered body found”, “Woman’s body found in Wisconsin”, and “Body found in Wisconsin” (Mansfield, 2022). Krista’s phone, which was used to send the text to Chandler, was found in the Halderson home. Near the area Bart’s body was found, police found a pair of scissors, a saw blade, and handles appearing to be from bolt cutters.

One of Chandler’s friends told investigators he had given Chandler a rifle as a gift in June. The rifle was his weapon of choice on the first-person shooter games he liked to play. The autopsy on Bart Halderson’s found remains revealed he had been shot before being dismembered. The weapon was later found hidden behind a board in a barn on Cat’s parents’ property. The weapon was identified as Chandler’s and as a positive match for the murder weapon that killed his father. An autopsy was unable to determine Krista’s cause of death.

Police also determined Chandler had been living a life full of lives. Chandler was not a college student. In fact, he had flunked out of school long ago. He has no degree and was not a part of the IT program. His father had called the school the day before the murderers pretending to be Chandler. This is how he leaned the truth about his son. Chandler was not working at the insurance company either, he spent his days playing video games. He never had a job at SpaceX, he had also made that up. Chandler had gone through an elaborate scheme, sending himself emails from the school and job he pretended to attend.

Surveillance footage shows Chandler buying a tarp and 20 pounds of ice at a local store. The tarp was found in the garage at his girlfriend’s parents’ home. Those scissors and saw blades found had blood on them that matched Bart and Krista. And the fireplace that was flickering in the neighbor’s security cameras? It contained over 200 human bone fragments. Detectives also found blood in the basement of the Halderson home as well as evidence of a clean-up. The prosecution theorized that Chandler had shot his parents in their home, brought them to the basement, and dismembered their bodies.

The last text message sent from Bart’s phone was to his son. It said, “ready when you are” and was just shortly before the murders are believed to have occurred. Bart had learned his son was lying about his education and job the day before and had planned a meeting with the school, himself, and Chandler. Chandler couldn’t go to that meeting without the rest of his secrets being revealed and didn’t want to face the consequences of his actions. When confronted with the truth, he told detectives, “You don’t know the whole story” and that he “didn’t feel bad about what he did” (Rickert, 2021).

Chandler Halderson opted for a speedy trial, which began in January of 2022. The prosecution presented overwhelming evidence implicating Chandler as the killer. Along with the forensic evidence, Halderson’s medical records showed he had gone to the ER for a head injury, was diagnosed with a mild concussion and given the neck brace, but he did not require any further treatment. His lies all came out at trial. His brother testified that his parents had nearly one million dollars in life insurance that would have been split between the brothers. Cat tearfully testified against her boyfriend.



The defense team did not prevent much of a defense, did not call any witnesses, and mostly gave statements such as “What you don’t know if evidence too”, which confused many. It took the jury two hours to deliberate and find Chandler Halderson guilty of both murders. He was sentenced in 2022 to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Chandler is expected to appeal his conviction.


References

Bart Ashley Halderson (1971-2021) - Find a Grave Memorial

Krista Rae Frater Halderson (1968-2021) - Find a Grave Memorial

Rickert, C. (2021). Son charged in mom’s death. Wisconsin State Journal

Bart and Krista Halderson - An inside look at the Chandler Halderson case (cbsnews.com)

Chandler Halderson sentenced to LIFE for beheading parents with saw and scissors before burning their heads in fireplace | The US Sun (the-sun.com)

Unemployed Son Mooched Off Parents He Killed and Dismembered, Claimed to Be College Student Who Got Job at SpaceX: Prosecutor | Law & Crime (lawandcrime.com)

'I believed his parents were missing:' Former girlfriend of Chandler Halderson testifies (channel3000.com)

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