Halderson trial resumes with analysis of human bone found in family fireplace

MADISON, Wis. — A search of the ash trap for the fireplace in the family room of the Halderson home found a dozen containers’ worth of bone fragments, experts testified Tuesday morning as the homicide and dismemberment trial for Chandler Halderson resumed after a week-long pause.

Dr. Cristina Figueroa Soto, the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office’s Chief of Investigations and a forensic anthropologist, testified Tuesday that items of interest found in a search of the Halderson fireplace filled 12 containers, and further examination found a total of 230 bone fragments in the fireplace, its grate, and the ash trap. Many were later identified as human bone, while 124 fragments could not be identified due to the size or condition they were in.

Forensic analysis found the bone pieces to be consistent with multiple parts of the human body, including the skull, fingers and knee caps. Several teeth were also found, although they were in such a state that they could not be traced back to who they had belonged to. A dental crown was also found stuck to the fireplace’s grate, according to investigators.

Prosecutors have alleged that Chandler Halderson used the family’s fireplace in an attempt to dispose of some of Bart and Krista Halderson’s remains. Figueroa Soto testified that the skull fragment found inside the fireplace belonged to an adult, but she could not determine if it was from a male or a female.

MORE: Full coverage of the Chandler Halderson homicide investigation and trial — live stream, previous stories, timelines and interviews

Analysis of how bones were cut

As part of the investigation, Figueroa Soto was also asked to examine the remains of Bart Halderson that were found on a farm in Cottage Grove and the remains of Krista Halderson that were found in the Town of Roxbury, near the Wisconsin River. She was tasked with trying to determine what type of saw blade was used to dismember their bodies.

Based on the marks made on the bones, Figueroa Soto determined Bart Halderson’s 4th cervical vertebrae in his neck was cut with a blade consistent with the broken hacksaw blade that was found near his remains. The wounds on Bart Halderson’s shoulders and legs were consistent with the blade used on the Allway Super Saw keyhole saw that was also found during the investigation.

Autopsy of Krista Halderson’s remains

Dane County’s Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Angieska Rogalska, also testified Tuesday about the autopsy conducted on Krista Halderson’s remains. Dr. Rogalska said more than one pile of remains were found in the Town of Roxbury search, but both groups of remains were later confirmed to belong to Krista Halderson.

Dr. Rogalska testified that some of the remains, which weren’t discovered until several weeks after the Haldersons are believed to have been killed, had started to decompose, but the autopsy was able to determine her body was dismembered after she had died. The cut marks were also indicative of a saw being used.

Because not all of Krista Halderson’s remains were found, the Medical Examiner’s Office could not determine the exact cause of death, meaning the fatal injury, but did rule that she died of homicidal violence.

“I believe that she died as a result of some violence, a non-natural death,” Dr. Rogalska testified. “I have no explanation for why these two legs would be found in a state park in the course of a natural death. There’s no way I could call this anything natural.”

Juror tests positive for COVID-19

The trial of Chandler Halderson resumed Tuesday morning after nearly a full week away following his COVID-19 diagnosis. Before proceedings began Tuesday morning, Judge John Hyland notified the jury that one of the jurors had informed him of a positive COVID-19 test. That juror was dismissed and replaced with one of the six alternates that had been designated for the trial.

You can watch the entire trial streaming on Channel3000.com, Channel3000+ streaming apps and on our Channel3000 Facebook and YouTube pages.