Chandler Halderson sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole

MADISON, Wis. — Chandler Halderson will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole for the killing and dismemberment of his parents, Dane County Judge John Hyland ruled Thursday.

“I have to, for this sentence, ensure that the only time Mr. Halderson comes back into the community is to have the privilege of a burial that he denied his parents,” Judge Hyland said as he handed down the sentence.

Prior to the sentence, Halderson spoke publicly for the first time, stating his intent to appeal the case, while also saying his lack of comments should not be construed as a lack of feeling about what happened.

“If there are any lawyers listening and willing to take on my appeal, take a moment to please reach out to me. It’s not that I do not have feelings. It’s that I was warned to not show them due to the scrutiny of this case,” Halderson read from a written statement.

During the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Andrea Raymond described Halderson as a child of privilege who had loving parents, a supportive family, no housing insecurity or discrimination in his life.

“It was out of this childhood, which was nearly ideal, that these crimes were committed,” Raymond said.

Raymond added that Chandler Halderson has not shown remorse for his crimes.

“There was never a moment where Chandler mourned his parents’ death,” Raymond said, adding that he reportedly told someone who said they were sad after attending Bart and Krista Halderson’s memorial by suggesting they cheer up by watching a movie — “Halloween.”

Victim impact statements from members of the Halderson family and their friends were read before the sentence was announced, but no victims chose to speak during the hearing.

In a letter to the court, Chandler’s grandmother and Bart’s mother said she still loves Chandler, even though what he did was “horrific.” She wrote she hoped Chandler would find a trade while incarcerated, and that parole later in life would be possible.

However, the fiance of Chandler’s brother, Mitchell, wrote she would fear for the remaining family’s safety should Halderson ever be released.

Halderson was found guilty on all eight charges filed against him — two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of mutilating a corpse, two counts of hiding a corpse and two counts of providing false information about a missing person — after a multi-week trial on Jan. 20. Despite the length of the trial and the several charges made against Halderson, the jury only deliberated for about two hours before reaching unanimous verdicts on all eight counts.

The trial consisted of eight days filled with testimony from witnesses, law enforcement officers and forensics experts, with prosecutors arguing that Halderson killed his parents after they exposed a web of lies about his college enrollment and job prospects. In the middle of the trial, proceedings had to be put on hold for about a week after Halderson tested positive for COVID-19.

After several days away, the trial resumed on Jan. 18, and two days later, the prosecution rested its case. The defense did not call any witnesses and also immediately rested its case that morning. Closing arguments followed, with the prosecution summarizing its case and the defense relying on an argument that the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof in the trial. In the end, jurors disagreed, leading to a quick conviction.

Halderson had claimed that his parents, Bart and Krista, left their home in the Town of Windsor in early July to celebrate the 4th of July weekend at the family cabin in northern Wisconsin. He filed a missing persons report the following week, but investigators quickly found that his story didn’t add up. Ultimately, hundreds of pieces of physical evidence found that Chandler Halderson was lying — not only about what happened to his parents, but also about his college performance and job prospects to his parents in the months leading up to their disappearance.

Human remains belonging to Bart Halderson were found in the woods of farmland in rural Dane County a day after Chandler reported his parents missing, and Chandler was arrested later that night, following an extensive interview with detectives. Human remains belonging to Krista Halderson would be found about a week later on the opposite side of Dane County, on state-owned land near the Wisconsin River.

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In the days and weeks that followed, investigators went through the Halderson home and found several items stained with blood, which DNA analysis confirmed belonged to Bart and Krista Halderson. Analysis also found there had been large pools of blood in the basement of the family’s home. Additionally, human bone fragments were found in the family’s fireplace and in the fireplace’s ash trap, leading investigators to believe Chandler Halderson had tried to burn some parts of his parents’ bodies.

Cell phone data also confirmed that Bart and Krista Halderson never left for the family cabin. Their phones were found hidden in the family garage, hidden inside pairs of shoes, and investigators were able to find that a text that Krista Halderson had supposedly sent Chandler saying they made it to the cabin safely was actually sent from inside the Halderson home. Cell phone towers also tracked Chandler’s phone as it visited both locations where his parents’ remains were later found.

Halderson has never provided an explanation for why he killed his parents, but investigators and prosecutors believe the crime was rooted in a “web of lies” being discovered. Chandler had told his parents he was enrolled at Madison College, had worked at American Family Insurance, and was offered a job at SpaceX.

The investigation found none of those things were true — while he had been enrolled at Madison College at one point, he hadn’t been taking classes recently and never finished or failed many of the courses he had signed up for. Meanwhile, American Family Insurance had no record of him ever working there and SpaceX had no record of Halderson ever applying for a job with them, either.

The morning of the day Chandler and Bart were supposed to have a meeting at Madison College about his status there — and the day investigators believe Bart and Krista were killed — Chandler sent a text to his girlfriend at the time saying he hadn’t slept well and he felt like everything was falling apart.

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