Husband charged with murder in 1997 disappearance of wife; body still not found

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Prosecutors on Wednesday charged a former White Bear Township man with murder in the disappearance of his wife nearly 18 years ago.

Norman Bachman, 53, was charged in Ramsey County with unintentional second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in the disappearance of Toni Bachman. Her body has not been found.

"Hopefully, we'll get an end to the disappearance and our final closure," Toni Bachman's brother, Timothy Reineccius, told the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1HRw4u9 ).

Norman Bachman was arrested Tuesday and denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance, according to the charges. He also provided information to police that contradicted information his three sons provided in multiple interviews over several years.

Bail was set at $250,000, and Bachman remained in jail. His next court appearance is set for April 15. Online court records did not list a defense attorney who could comment on the charges.

"We believe that it's time for justice," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi told a news conference Wednesday. "I want to really thank the family for their patience and persistence in pursuing his case."

According to the complaint, in a November 1997 interview with police, Bachman's middle son, then 12, said that the weekend Toni Bachman was last seen alive, he and his two brothers heard her scream in the family's White Bear Township home.

The three boys, all from a previous marriage, were watching television on April 26. 1997. The 12-year-old told police their father went into his wife's bedroom, then she screamed.

"He said that the boys all thought the defendant had killed her," the complaint said. "He said that the defendant was in the bedroom constantly that weekend."

After Toni Bachman disappeared, the boy said the house smelled "bitter," according to the complaint.

Toni Bachman was 38 years old when she was reported missing by her mother on May 12, 1997. Investigators and friends say that just before she disappeared, she was preparing to leave her husband of 10 years.

In an earlier interview with police, the middle son said that after Toni Bachman disappeared, his father took the boys out of school one day and drove them to a farm, according to the complaint. The farm in Verndale was owned by Norman Bachman's sister. In the back of the car, the boy told police, were large coolers with a cover over them.

After his arrest, Norman Bachman said there were no coolers in the car on the trip, the complaint said.

Dogs searched the Verndale property and property owned by Norman Bachman's stepmother in 1998 and found nothing.

During a 1997 search of the White Bear Township home the Bachmans were living in at that time, authorities discovered several spots of what appeared to be blood throughout the basement. DNA tests on 15 of the apparent blood spots matched Toni Bachman's DNA profile, according to the charges.


Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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