LA CROSSE, Wis. - Three months after a West Salem woman died from what was believed to be a freak accident, her husband is now charged with killing her.
Todd Kendhammer, 46, of West Salem, was arrested Tuesday morning and is facing a first degree intentional homicide charge after an investigation showed he may be lying about how his wife died.
On the morning of September 16, officials responded to a car crash near the intersection of County Road M and Bergum Coulee Road in the township of Hamilton. Deputies found Barbara Kendhammer, 46 of West Salem, in the passenger seat, unconscious and critically injured.
The driver of the car, Todd Kendhammer, told authorities they were travelling northbound on County Road M when a pipe fell from the cargo area of a southbound truck. Kendhammer said the pipe went through the windshield and hit his wife.
Barbara Kendhammer died at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center the following day.
According to Tim Gruenke, the La Crosse County district attorney, there were a number of red flags that prompted further investigation by the La Crosse County Sheriff's department and other agencies.
"The windshield appears to have been struck more than one time," he said. "The complaint talks about the autopsy and how injuries weren't consistent with a single pipe coming through the windshield."
The criminal complaint also states an analysis shows no one was seated in the front passenger seat when the windshield was damaged, witnesses stories don't match up with Todd Kendhammer's account, and Barbara Kendhammer's mother didn't get the usual phone call from her daughter that morning.
The victim was known as a friendly "lunch lady" at West Salem Middle School and her co-workers reported they knew something was wrong when she didn't show up for work that Friday morning.
Todd Kendhammer is scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 11 a.m. Dec 15. Bond was set at $250,000. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
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