Authorities say Fredrick Bachman shot his roommate, then torched the lakeside home where they lived and watched it burn as he smoked a pipe.
Bachman, 26, was charged Wednesday in Hubbard County District Court with second-degree murder in the death of James Schwartzbauer, 57, just off Lake Hattie. Bachman appeared in court Friday and remains jailed.
According to the criminal complaint:
Bachman was standing outside the burning home around daybreak on May 31 and told deputies that Schwartzbauer was still inside. His remains were found after firefighters doused the flames, which totaled the home about 30 miles southwest of Bemidji.
Still at the scene, Bachman told deputies and the fire marshal that Schwartzbauer was his “best friend” and that he loved him. However, the two had an argument the previous night that became increasingly heated, Bachman said.
He then explained his actions during the fire in a way that authorities found implausible, including that he tried to fight the fire for 15 minutes, went in and out of the burning home three times retrieving possessions and did this without his clothes smelling of smoke. He added that he called out for Schwartzbauer but heard no response, leading him to believe that Schwartzbauer had escaped with his life.
Witnesses said they saw Bachman smoking a pipe as the house burned, many of his personal items out of harm’s way and absent the smell of smoke. The possessions rescued included his computer, bottles of alcohol and a samurai sword. Witnesses said he remained calm until learning that one of his bottles of alcohol had broken.
Investigators found Schwartzbauer’s shotgun in the lake about 40 feet from the property’s dock on top of vegetation.
An autopsy revealed that Schwartzbauer had been fatally shot before the home was set on fire.
On Wednesday, a Sheriff’s Department investigator and an agent from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Bachman in St. Paul, about 230 miles from the scene of the fire.
Bachman had lived with Schwartzbauer for four years and told investigators that he could understand “why the evidence points to me.”
His criminal history includes several convictions in Ramsey County for offenses ranging from drunken driving to domestic assault.