Prosecutors: Chandler Halderson created ‘web of lies’ through phony email addresses

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 8:14 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2022 at 9:32 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Chandler Halderson created a “web of lies” about his employment status and college enrollment through phony email accounts linked back to the defendant, prosecutors continued to press home to jurors Wednesday.

Halderson, 23, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first degree intentional homicide in the deaths of his parents, Bart and Krista Halderson. He is also accused of two counts of providing false information on a kidnapping, two counts of mutilating a corpse and two counts of hiding a corpse.

While prosecutors said the day before that Wednesday could be the day that Dane Co. prosecutors wrap up their case against the 23-year-old man, they haven’t finished yet. When prosecutors do complete their arguments, the case will then go to Halderson’s defense attorneys who will present any evidence on their client’s behalf. It is still unclear whether Halderson will take the stand.

The eighth day of testimonies began Wednesday with Detective Tim Blanke, who was in charge of acquiring search warrants, searching for Halderson email accounts associated with the family’s internet account and going through Google searches.

The state pointed to four email accounts with different identities, all of which were connected back to Chandler Halderson. The names associated with these accounts were Alyssa Brandt, Daniel Speith, Aaron Hoover and Chandler Halderson.

The detective analyzed a cell phone found in Chandler’s room, which the state described as a “burner phone.” Authorities were not able to get any data from the phone other than the number for it.

A cell phone for Bart Halderson was found hidden in a shoe along with his driver’s license. The detective was able to see photos, videos, call logs, texts, contacts and web browser history from Bart Halderson’s phone.

The defense asked the detective how many phones he analyzed, to which he replied two- Bart Halderson’s and Chandler’s former girlfriend Catherine Mellender.

The Halderson case

The Halderson Case

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Bart & Krista Halderson were last seen on July 1 by a family member at the couple’s home in Dane County.

Chandler Halderson reported to authorities that his parents were missing on July 7. At that time, authorities believed the couple had planned a trip to Langlade County, Wisconsin over the weekend and family had been unable to confirm that they arrived.

At the time, he told investigators his parents and an unknown couple had left the preceding Friday morning to visit their cabin in White Lake for the July Fourth holiday weekend.

Immediately following the missing persons report, the Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office reached out to their counterparts in Langlade Co. who checked the cabin’s property but found no one there.

The sheriff’s office upped the status of the couple’s disappearance on July 8, calling it “suspicious.” Police arrested Chandler Halderson that day for allegedly providing deputies with false information on a kidnapping.

Human remains were also located July 8 in rural Cottage Grove. The remains were confirmed to be those of Bart Halderson on July 12.

Dane Co. Sheriff Kalvin Barrett noted at that time that investigators had obtained a search warrant for the Halderson home.

“[W]e want to extend our condolences to the Halderson family,” Dane Co. Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said on July 12. “We understand that some of the details of this investigation are very difficult for them to hear and we want to be sensitive to that.”

Shortly after the medical examiner’s report was released, the Sheriff’s Office stated it now considered the missing persons case a homicide investigation. Additionally, three new counts, including first degree homicide, were filed against Halderson’s son, Chandler. At that time, Krista was still considered missing.

Sheriff Barrett explained July 9 that as investigators continued interviewing the Haldersons’ family, friends, and neighbors, they developed information that led them to the location where the remains were found.

Prosecutors noted Monday, July 11 that witnesses claimed to have seen Chandler Halderson multiple times near a wood line outside the rural Dane Co. property, where his father’s remains were later found.

During a court appearance on July 15, Court Commissioner Brian Asmus set bail for Chandler Halderson at $1 million after arguments by prosecutors and Halderson’s attorney.

Defense attorney Catherine Dorl told Asmus her client is a lifelong resident of Wisconsin, has been involved in the Boy Scouts and church groups, and has no prior criminal history. She had asked that bail be continued at $10,000.

The District Attorney’s office also released a 14-page document that day detailing the investigation into the murder of Bart Halderson.

It contains several interviews with Chandler Halderson, friends, family and witnesses. The complaint does not specify when and where Bart Halderson was killed, but it does place Chandler at the site where Bart’s remains were discovered.

According to the complaint, a family friend greeted Halderson when he arrived on her rural property on July 8 in Cottage Grove, where Bart Halderson’s remains were eventually located. The friend asked Halderson if he was OK, and he said he was not OK, and that he was having problems reading words and numbers.

The statement goes on to say Halderson asked to use the pool, the friend said yes, and observed Halderson was gone somewhere between 1-1.5 hours and when he returned, the friend told authorities Halderson was not wet and the pool cover was still intact.

The friend also observed Halderson walking around to a shed nearby on the property, where she could not see what Halderson was doing. She told authorities after that, Halderson took a dip in the pool and “[appeared] to be washing off.”

According to the document, investigators spoke with a friend of Chandler’s, who says he brought Halderson a gun and ammunition on June 12.

During a search of the Halderson home, investigators found casings that would have fired properly from the type of gun Chandler Halderson had obtained from that friend. The complaint does not go into details about the whereabouts of that firearm, or if it has been recovered.

According to the complaint, Halderson went door-to-door and asked to look at home surveillance video from neighbors. An NBC15 News reporter interviewed Halderson on July 8; the day after Bart and Krista Halderson were reported missing, and before Chandler Halderson was arrested.

While in the neighborhood, the reporter saw Halderson doing precisely that, and told the reporter he wanted to see if he could catch a glimpse of his parents leaving the house.

The complaint says Halderson asked at least one neighbor for surveillance video and asked if the camera captured the road or his house.

The document also continually comes back to a foot injury Halderson had bandaged up.

The criminal complaint also revealed that a second portion of human remains had been discovered near Old Hwy 60 along the Wisconsin River, a Department of Natural Resources property, near the Town of Roxbury.

Investigators targeted a new location on July 20 as they searched for Krista Halderson.

The Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office revealed they had been searching the Waste Management landfill, near Johnson Creek, as they searched for her.

On July 22, Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office dive teams and a cadaver dog searched a pond near the home of Bart and Krista Halderson, as the search continues for the latter.

Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Elise Schaffer said they began draining the pond to gain better access in the afternoon. She said a cadaver dog alerted them to certain areas in the pond, but crews had not found anything significant.

The search is not the result of any specific tips, she explained, and searchers went there because of its proximity to the Halderson’s home.

“It’s just an obvious location that we would want to search for evidence or anything that might be related to this crime,” she said.

On Friday, July 30, the Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office confirmed remains located in the Town of Roxbury were that of Krista Halderson. As a result, its investigators asked the District Attorney’s Office to add a second first-degree homicide charges, as well as charges of hiding and mutilating a corpse, against Chandler Halderson, who was already faces the same allegations stemming from his father’s death.

“We have kept the Halderson family in our thoughts and prayers throughout this investigation and we extend our continued sympathies to them today. We ask that everyone allow them to grieve this tremendous loss with the utmost respect and dignity,” Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said that day.

Barrett also noted then that investigators found more human remains on Bart and Krista Halderson’s property. Those remains have not been identified and Barrett did not say if they were found inside the house or outdoors.

According to an updated criminal complaint August 25, it includes new information about when Krista Halderson was last seen and that authorities had found her and Bart Halderson’s cell phones and drivers licenses.

The complaint also releases new information about Krista’s last known whereabouts. Surveillance video shows that Krista left work on Thursday, July 1 around 5 p.m. and arrived home around 5:10 p.m. that day.

The same vehicle later pulls out of the Halderson’s driveway around 8:15 p.m. and stops at a Kwik Trip on the 4300 block of Windsor Drive in the Village of Windsor. A man goes in the store and buys two bags of ice. Authorities do not say who the man is.

Also in the complaint, a sheriff’s deputy states on July 28, he went to the Halderson home to process it. When he went into the garage, he found Krista and Bart’s phones and drivers licenses inside of a pair of shoes, wrapped in tinfoil and paper towels.

Authorities continued, saying they obtained text messages reportedly between Chandler and Krista that were sent on July 4 that discussed that they would be going to a parade, but the parade was actually scheduled for July 3.

Authorities also obtained Chandler’s Google search history, finding searches that referred to bodies being found, bodies being found in southern Wisconsin and his parents’ names. These searches were all made the morning of July 8, prior to authorities finding the remains of Bart Halderson later that day.

Chandler Halderson stood mute in court during his arraignment Aug. 31, leading the judge to enter not guilty pleas on his behalf. Later that night, court documents updated with a schedule of the 23-year-old’s trial dates. He withdrew his demand for a speedy trial.

In November, a judge denied the defense’s motion to prohibit news media from livestreaming court proceedings in the homicide trial. The motion was denied in part after NBC15 and other media groups fought to guarantee the public’s right to information in the trial.

A second motion, proposed to exclude the use of jail recordings and correspondence made by Halderson, was also denied in court.

On Dec. 29, Chandler Halderson appeared in court for a jury status hearing. It would be the final court appearance prior to the start of the trial.

Detective Sabrina Sims, who has been on the stand multiple times throughout this trial, took the stand next. She read off each of the email names listed by Blanke, noting messages coming from Chandler Halderson’s primary email account never said he worked at SpaceX or bank. The word “SpaceX” itself never came up in that account, the official noted. Chandler had told multiple family members and friends that he received a job at SpaceX, but was unable to travel to Florida to take the job because of a severe head injury. The state argued on the first day of the trial that there is no evidence Chandler ever applied for a job at the company, nor was he ever offered a position there.

In an email exchange between Bart and Chandler, Bart had asked why Chandler wasn’t getting paid for his work. Chandler told his father he was asking about the issue. The state presented emails next between Chandler and someone named Tom Sellsnick, who explained why there was a delay in getting Chandler paid from his job at American Family Insurance. These emails were all dated around June 24, 2021. Detective Sims later learned the “Tom” email was from a server out of Switzerland.

Detective Sabrina Sims testifies during the Chandler Halderson trial on Jan. 19, 2022.
Detective Sabrina Sims testifies during the Chandler Halderson trial on Jan. 19, 2022.(NBC15/Pool Camera)

A second email account, created on Aug. 5, 2020, came from someone who worked at Madison College named Daniel Speith. This account then emailed both Bart and Chandler right away about an upcoming Zoom call, which Speith later canceled because “a family member became infected with the coronavirus.” Speith also told Bart that Chandler’s counselor at Madison College would not be able to meet with him, but Speith would be able to virtually. Bart emailed back and forth with Speith, asking if Chandler had set up an account to receive his transcripts and when he would receive fortifications for a solar energy program. Chandler also emailed Speith to get his transcripts.

“Alyssa Brandt” was a name associated with a third email account, which was set up on Aug. 18, 2020. Sims explained that Chandler emailed this account saying that he and Brandt had talked on the phone. He also asked if she had reached out to Bart Halderson, to which she replied she hadn’t.

Records show “Brandt” told Chandler she had the wrong email address for his father. Bart eventually connected with Brandt, asking to meet and telling her information on Chandler’s student status has been causing issues with financial aid and “other concerns.” He also suggested that he and Krista Halderson meet with Brandt to clear up any miscommunications.

In communications between Brandt and Chandler, Sims described how he told Brandt that he couldn’t make a meeting with someone named Aaron Hoover because he was sick after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. This is the first time “Aaron Hoover” is mentioned, which is the identity of a fourth email address connected back to Chandler Halderson. Brandt said she would reschedule the meeting and that they were short staffed at the college, which would likely shift meeting times around.

The state also pointed out that the email was signed off as “Brant,” but the email address has the name “Brandt.”

Brandt and Chandler Halderson went back and forth over time, with Chandler asking for answers on his student status and Alyssa saying they would reschedule. Bart eventually emailed Brandt saying that the amount of rescheduling is unprofessional, noting it has gone on for over a year and was costing the family money.

Sims stated the last email was sent at the end of June 2021, with Alyssa appearing to be a counselor at Madison College. The state pointed out there is no one at the college by that name who advisees students, and the email account was set up using Chandler Halderson’s birthday and the IP address matches the Halderson home’s internet.

The state presented emails from someone by the name of Aaron Hoover. This account was set up on May 28, 2021. Aaron also identified himself as a counselor at Madison College.

In an email to Hoover, Chandler said that he needed a meeting with him immediately in order to keep his job. The email address of Hoover old Chandler he could contact his employer if that would help and that he forwarded Chandler’s information to the person in charge, who was busy. Chandler then reportedly canceled a meeting saying there was a work conflict.

Sims continued reading the emails, as Chandler Halderson asked Hoover to send information to Bart Halderson. Aaron sent an email on June 10 that he was taking the week off due to a family emergency.

The detective pointed out that the IP address for Aaron Hoover’s email also was located at the Halderson household.

A representative from Madison College later testified Wednesday that no one by the names “Aaron Hoover,” “Alyssa Brandt,” “Alyssa Brant,” or “Daniel Speith,” ever worked for Madison College.

Detective Brian Shunk testifies on Jan. 19, 2022 in the trial of Chandler Halderson.
Detective Brian Shunk testifies on Jan. 19, 2022 in the trial of Chandler Halderson.(NBC15/Pool Camera)

After a short break, Lori Snapp, employee relations manager for American Family Insurance, told the courtroom there was no record someone named “Tom Sellsnick” ever worked there, which was the name of the person reportedly corresponding with Chandler from the company.

Detective Brian Shunk was also brought back to the stand to discuss his investigation into Chandler Halderson’s enrollment at Madison College. Looking at unofficial transcripts, Shunk stated Chandler was enrolled at the school during the Spring 2018 semester. Shunk listed the following information about Chandler’s enrollment in following semesters:

YearEnrollment status at Madison College
Spring 2018Enrolled
Summer 2018Enrolled for a few classes, withdrew from others
Fall 2018Completed a design class
Spring 2019Completed one class, withdrew from three
Fall 2019Withdrew from classes, failed others
Fall 2020Withdrew from most classes, failed others

The Spring 2019 semester was the last class Chandler Halderson received credit for, Shunk said. Chandler Halderson never was considered a full-time student.

A customer service representative from Madison College, Omar Jobe, testified about a phone call he had with Bart Halderson on June 29, 2021 about Chandler’s enrollment. During the call, Jobe looks into Chandler’s account with Bart and told him that Chandler owed over $2,000 and that was why Chandler couldn’t request a transcript. He also told Bart Halderson that Chandler has never admitted into a solar program, nor did he have a certificate that Bart thought he had received.

Bart also asked Jobe if Daniel Speith and Alyssa Brandt were employees at the school, to which Jobe replied that they weren’t.

Prosecutors divided Tuesday’s testimony between expert witnesses discussing the remains of both Bart and Krista Halderson that were found during the course of the investigation and three friends of the defendant, all of whom testified about statements that Halderson made that were not based on facts.

Following a lunch break, a detective read a text message from Bart Halderson to Chandler Halderson around 2 p.m. saying “I spoke to Omar Jobe.”

He then sent Chandler a text that said “I’m ready when you are.”

After 3 p.m. on July 1, health app data on Bart Halderson’s iPhone showed data that sensed activity. After that, there was no more activity on Bart’s phone.

Wisconsin Department of Justice Criminal Analyst Courtney Ripp described Google and YouTube searches made by Chandler Halderson, with the prosecution putting emphasis on searches from July 8. These were the searches, as described in the criminal complaint:

  • July 8, 2021: 9:44:30 a.m., “Body found Wisconsin.”
  • 9:44:41 a.m., “Woman’s body found in Wisconsin.”
  • 9:44:50 a.m., “Wisconsin dismembered body found.”
  • 9:45:25 a.m., “Dead body found in Wisconsin.”
  • 9:45:40 a.m., “Body found in Milwaukee River 2021.”
  • 3:12:46 p.m., “Bart and Krista.”

Sims also outlined cell phone activity among the Halderson family. Bart’s phone was inactive after July 1, 2021, while Krista’s phone had limited activity between July 2 and one text exchange was sent on July 4.

Chandler’s phone was active around the residence on July 2, Sims noted, and one other tower pinged by a Fleet Farm around 7 a.m. that day. His phone activity showed various locations on July 3, including around the home, the Town of Roxbury and the Portage area. Snapchat locators also indicate Chandler was in the Town of Roxbury, which is the area Krista Halderson’s remains were found.

The defense challenged the cell phone data, saying you can’t tell who is using the cell phone, just that it is in use and where it has been.

NBC15 conducted an interview with Chandler Halderson the day of his arrest, but before he was taken into custody and formally considered a suspect in his parents’ deaths. Chandler had only consented to an audio interview, which is why he doesn’t appear on camera.

NBC15 conducted a full interview with Chandler Halderson, 23, prior to authorities charging him with alleged homicide counts.

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