Dropout son dismembered his parents – then they burned their heads in the fireplace


Bart and Krista Halderson were very proud of their son and his promising career. Chandler had told them all about studying at a technical college and working with the local police force on their dive team — and now he’d landed a job at SpaceX, the pioneering space company founded by Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk.

That meant 23-year-old Halderson had to move out of the home he shared with his parents in Windsor, Wisconsin, and move to Florida. But the whole family was thrilled that he got the fantastic opportunity.

It was 2021 and there was a lot of talk at home about Halderson’s future. Bart, 50, was an accountant and had always supported his son. Halderson had been a Boy Scout and Bart had gotten involved by becoming a Boy Scout Cave Manager. His son was also an avid swimmer and Bart had attended his training sessions.

Krista, 53, loved being a mother to Halderson and her other son, Mitchell, who had left home. Her friends said she dazzled people with her positivity — and never failed to encourage Halderson on his path to success.

She and Bart had been thrilled when he secured a place at Madison Area Technical College. He told them all about his studies and the jobs he did outside of class.

His strong swimming skills had apparently led him to work on the police diving team, and he also had a job at an insurance company that he was working remotely due to the pandemic.

Bart often asked his son why he wasn’t paying rent, but Halderson said it was a mix-up with his wages. He even showed his father emails from HR claiming they would fix the problem.

Halderson, left, with his father and brother Mitchell



Then, in June, Halderson told them he got the job at SpaceX in Florida and announced he and his girlfriend were moving there. He said he had already sorted an apartment. But then suddenly there was a question mark over whether Halderson could take the job.

He began wearing a neck brace and said he fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a concussion. Due to the head injury, he did not feel able to take the position due to problems driving and flying.

There was also a delay from college with documentation on his qualifications, so Bart stepped in to try and help. He began emailing Halderson’s College to get to the bottom of the delay, keen to secure his son’s extraordinary new job.

Unemployed exit

After feeling ignored, Bart called the college — and he was stunned to learn that Halderson had only attended college for a while before dropping out. The staff he allegedly spoke to via email didn’t exist – he’d just faked it all.

When Bart confronted his son, Halderson told him they had a meeting on July 1 to get to the bottom of things — but that, too, turned out to be fake. Many questions must have arisen in the household as the reality that Halderson’s entire life has been a web of lies began to creep through.

The truth was that he dropped out of college and was always unemployed. He’s never worked for the police or insurance, and he’s never been offered a job at SpaceX.

Halderson got up to meetings that didn’t exist and spent all day at home playing video games while recounting the startling details of a fictional life to his parents. He had set up fake college and human resources email accounts that allegedly helped him pay his salary so he could email Bart. He even had a Burner Phone – a cheap prepaid cell phone that you can destroy or throw away when you no longer need it – to fake calls.

With the threat of false college appointments, Halderson’s life began to falter. Then, on July 7, he reported his parents missing. He said they went to their riverfront cabin in northern Wisconsin for the weekend but did not return. No one had seen her since July 1st.

A search began and police began questioning Halderson. His story didn’t add up and he wasn’t too willing to help. He said his parents were going with another couple, but he didn’t know with whom. He also said they wanted to watch a parade – but there wasn’t one.

Halderson was arrested for obstruction and witnesses took him to a rural property where he had parked before heading into the woods. Police went to the scene and made a gruesome discovery – Bart’s torso. Back at the Halderson home, officers found human bone fragments in the fireplace and cutting tools covered in his parents’ DNA. Halderson was charged with Bart’s first-degree murder, hiding a body, and mutilating a body.

Then, on July 14, body parts were found along the Wisconsin River. It was Krista’s legs. The rest of her body and Bart’s remains would never be found. Halderson was also charged with her murder.

Police determined that Halderson had shot his father in the back on July 1 at their home. He had then killed his mother when she came back.

Bart and Krista have been taken in by their son’s lies



Since only Krista’s legs were found, it was impossible to determine her cause of death.

He had dismembered their bodies with a saw and scissors before attempting to burn them in the family fireplace. The ash in the chimney contained fragments of human skulls, facial bones, and knee bones.

Halderson had dumped Krista’s limbs along the Wisconsin River and Bart’s torso on the estate. His cell phone placed him at both locations where his parents’ body parts were found and he was seen buying ice cream at gas stations – presumably to slow the decomposition of the remains.

His internet history showed that he searched for “Wisconsin dismembered body found” after the murder even before his parents were discovered. When it came to motive, exposing Halderson’s lies was high on the list. He was hours away from going to college with his father. But there was no evidence Bart and Krista had threatened to throw him out, disowned him — or been anything but supportive. It seemed a pointless reason for a brutal double murder.

The deeds of a coward

At the trial in January this year, prosecutors said Halderson killed his parents because his web of lies was exposed. The pressure to pay the rent was mounting – and they said the SpaceX job was a desperate last lie.

“The best way out of your bogus job is an even more bogus job,” said the prosecutor. “He’s going to be an astronaut. He had two choices – own up to his lies, stand up and finally tell the truth, or shoot your father in the back like a coward – and that’s what happened.”

The jury heard the bodies of Bart and Krista being dismembered and set on fire. “He had burned his parents’ heads in the fireplace,” prosecutors said.

While Halderson pleaded not guilty, he did not take the stand to either explain or deny his actions. His defense said that while he was a liar, he was just a “normal kid” who liked video games and dated his girlfriend. “Chandler Halderson didn’t murder his parents,” they said.

The cabin in northern Wisconsin



But prosecutors said he didn’t show a single moment of grief after the death of his parents. During his calls and messages in prison, which police had access to, he had not grieved at all – and they said it was “unique” in their experience.

Neighbors’ security cameras had recorded which vehicles came and went on July 1st, the day Bart and Halderson were due to start college. Bart had texted his son shortly before the alleged meeting that day, saying, “I’m ready whenever you are.” It was the last time he used his phone. Halderson then texted his mother that Bart’s phone was broken and that she could bring him back a soda. “Okay, I can,” Krista replied with a smiley face.

“We know that Bart and Krista went into that house and never came out, at least as whole people,” prosecutors told the court.

They said that solving a case was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and Halderson “had eight days to distribute pieces of that jigsaw puzzle all over Wisconsin.”

The jury found Halderson guilty of two counts each of first-degree murder, mutilating a body, hiding a body and providing false information about a missing person. He tried not to appear at his sentencing hearing, but the judge denied his request.

In March of that year, Halderson, now 24, faced his sentencing and briefly said he would appeal, then attempted to explain his cold demeanor at the trial. “It’s not that I don’t have feelings, it’s that I’ve been warned not to show them when investigating this case,” he said.

Halderson’s grandmother said she still loves him and that while his actions were “horrific,” she hoped he would find a job in prison and one day be released. The judge said he couldn’t be so lenient and had to protect the public with a harsh sentence.

“I have to make sure that the only time Mr. Halderson returns to the community, he has the privilege of a funeral that he denied his parents,” he said, before sentenced him to life in prison without a chance of parole.

The extent of Halderson’s lies had been shocking—but no one could have known how far the fantasist was willing to go to avoid detection.

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Fry Electronics Team

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