Halderson trial: Investigators detail finding cell phones, IDs of Bart and Krista Halderson hidden in home
MADISON, Wis. — Prosecutors entered their second week of laying out their case against Chandler Halderson in the 23-year-old’s trial for allegedly killing and dismembering his parents, Bart and Krista Halderson.
Monday morning, prosecutors began to lay out some of the physical pieces of evidence investigators found during their search of the Halderson home and the farm in Cottage Grove where the remains of Bart Halderson were found.
That included showing the jury the actual saw blades and scissors found in an oil drum near where Bart Halderson’s remains were found, as well as shoes with apparent blood stains on them found in the Halderson home.
Also found hidden inside a pair of shoes in the garage of the Halderson home: a foil-wrapped package, which contained two cell phones and the Wisconsin state drivers licenses of Bart and Krista Halderson.
Chandler Halderson had told authorities that he received a text message from Krista during 4th of July weekend, saying she and Bart had reached the family’s cabin in Langlade County safely and they were planning on going to a 4th of July parade. Authorities later determined that nobody had been at the Haldersons’ cabin that weekend.
Prosecutors have not yet indicated where they think the text message from Krista’s phone was sent from.
Questions over rifle discovery
Previously in the trial, the owner of the Cottage Grove farm where Bart Halderson’s remains were found said she was cleaning out a shed on the property in October — several months after deputies were there searching the area — when she discovered a rifle hidden behind four or five pieces of lumber stacked up against the wall.
The rifle was the same model of a gun that prosecutors say Chandler Halderson received from a friend in June, weeks before his parents went missing.
However, the rifle was not discovered when officials from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office were in control of the property from July 8 to July 12, or during an initial walkthrough of the shed or a formal search by investigators. Members of the Sheriff’s Office that were there during the search said they believed they conducted it to the best of their abilities, but resources were stretched thin due to another large-scale canvassing of the Halderson home in Windsor, and admitted that human error may have led to the gun not being discovered during those searches.
On cross-examination, Sheriff’s Office officials said they couldn’t say for sure how long the search of the shed lasted, but they felt satisfied the search was thorough.
Chandler Halderson’s defense team focused on the department’s failure to find a gun during the investigation, despite deputies knowing Bart Halderson’s remains included a gunshot wound and that a gun would be a key piece of evidence in a homicide case. The defense also stressed the fact that investigators did not return to the shed at any point between the initial investigation in July and the discovery of the rifle in October.
Other items found during searches
Investigators say in addition to the several cutting tools found discarded in an oil drum near where Bart Halderson’s remains were found, they also found a rolling plastic garbage can discarded in the woods, about 10 yards from the woodline. Inside the garbage bin, they found a tarp and yellow duct tape. Another piece of tarp was found folded inside the shed that was searched.
When investigators briefly unfolded that piece of tarp, they found red stains they believed to be blood before folding it back up and sending it to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab for further testing. Testimony later indicated there were shoe prints on some of the tarp samples that were sent in for testing.
Another deputy testified about finding a Target bag filled with what he believed to be bloody rags discarded near the garbage bins on the property’s driveway. As previously revealed during testimony, the bag had a bar code with the name of Chandler Halderson’s girlfriend at the time. She testified last week that she had picked up items from Target to bring over to the Halderson home on July 1, and said the Halderson home was the last place that bag would have been before it was found on the Cottage Grove property.
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