Update: Man acquitted in murder-arson case sought after pursuit in Itasca State Park
A man acquitted in a 2013 murder-arson case is believed to be the same person who fled from law enforcement during a traffic stop in Itasca State Park on Wednesday, April 5.
Fredrick William Bachman, 30, was identified Thursday, April 6, as the suspect who eluded officers the previous afternoon when Itasca State Park officials reported a person residing in a cabin but wasn't paying. As of Friday morning, he was still not in custody.
Clearwater County Sheriff Darin Halverson said Friday morning a warrant was issued for Bachman's arrest for fleeing a police officer. Bachman is not wanted for a violent crime.
Halverson said, based on Bachman had been living in the area and is wanted only on the fleeing charge, he does not believe the public is in specific danger at this time. The public is not considered to be at risk, however, do not approach the suspect on your own.
Halverson said at the time of the initial traffic stop Wednesday they were aware of Bachman's history which led to the extensive search efforts. There is not an active search at this time in the park, which has remained open throughout the investigation, and officers will follow up on leads from the public if Bachman is spotted in the area.
According to the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office:
After receiving a call about 4 p.m. Wednesday, a deputy went to the park and met with a Minnesota Conservation Officer. There, the deputy learned the park identified Bachman as the person staying in the cabin. Halverson said Bachman likely stayed in the cabin about four days and once in custody will likely face additional charges related to breaking into the cabin.
Law enforcement knew Bachman did not have a valid driver's license and attempted to stop him when he was spotted driving in the park.
The Sheriff's Office said Bachman initially stopped but then fled the scene in his vehicle. A short pursuit ensued and ended at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center, where Bachman fled on foot. Officers chased Bachman on foot, but he was able to get back to his vehicle and drive off again.
Another pursuit started, but due to the narrow and curvy roads within the park, officers decided to back off and lost sight of the vehicle.
A short time later, the vehicle was located near another cabin. The Sheriff's Office impounded the vehicle.
Coincidentally, a SWAT team was nearby and assisted in clearing the cabin, but Bachman was not found. Law enforcement closed Wilderness Drive by 6 p.m. near the headwaters of the Mississippi River during the search as the park remained open. SWAT was in the area training the day of the incident.
The Sheriff's Office said the Minnesota State Patrol assisted by flying overhead with a helicopter equipped with infrared imaging, but the search still did not locate Bachman.
Law enforcement said they believe Bachman fled the area on a bicycle that he had inside his vehicle.
The Sheriff's Office filed paperwork with the Clearwater County Attorney's Office for charges related to the incident. Law enforcement asks anyone with information about Bachman's location to contact local departments, but to avoid approaching Bachman. If anyone has information, where Bachman is or comes across him, contact your local law enforcement agency, or call 911. Acquitted in murder case
Last April, a Hubbard County jury acquitted Bachman, who faced murder and arson charges for the death of 57-year-old James Schwartzbauer after eight hours of deliberation..
Bachman lived at a Lake Hattie home that Schwartzbauer, a licensed foster care provider and social worker who ran a home for troubled youth, was converting into a religious retreat. Schwartzbauer's body was found in the burned rubble of his home in May 2013.
Initially, Bachman faced murder charges for Schwartzbauer's death, but the charges were dismissed with prejudice. In late 2014, a grand jury indicted Bachman for murder and the case went to trial in April 2016.
About four years before his death, Schwartzbauer took in Bachman. When Schwartzbauer died, Bachman was building a cabin for himself across from the lake on his landlord's property.
An initial coroner's report concluded Schwartzbauer was dead of shotgun wounds before the fire started. But the final Ramsey County Coroner's report concluded the manner of death was ultimately undetermined.
The home was engulfed in flames in late May of 2013, leaving little evidence behind.
"I knew it was going to be a tough case," Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said the day following the jury verdict.. "Investigators had gone through every piece of evidence. I felt we had a reasonable chance of succeeding."
During the trial, the fire marshal testified the fire was intentionally set and likely burned for about three hours by the time deputies arrived on scene, but the medical examiner didn't rule on the cause of death in the case.