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Man arraigned on murder charge in connection with Lake Hattie fire

A fire May 31 destroyed a house and garage in Lake Hattie Township. The Bemidji Fire Department responded to the call at 5:30 a.m. in the 1500 block of 410 Street. BEMIDJI FIRE DEPARTMENT

BEMIDJI -- A 26-year-old Laporte man was arraigned Friday morning for allegedly killing a man with a shotgun.

Fredrick William Bachman was arraigned in district court on charges of second degree murder in the death of James Schwartzbauer, 57. Hewas arrested Wednesday in St. Paul by a Hubbard County Sheriff's Office investigator and an agent from the state Bureau of Criminal apprehension, according to a press release from the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office.

Hubbard County Sheriff's deputies and Bemidji firefighters were called to a home in the 1500 block of 410th Street on Lake Hattie at 5:29 a.m. May 31. They discovered the home, which the two men shared, fully engulfed in flames and Bachman outside the home. Schwartzbauer was believed to still be inside.

According to the criminal complaint, the two had been roommates the past four years. Schwartzbauer is listed as the homeowner.

Bachman allegedly told numerous conflicting stories about how he tried to put the fire out. He told investigators that he tried fighting the fire, but his clothes did not smell of smoke.

Bachman told investigators that he and Schwartzbauer had a heated argument on the night of May 30 and into the early hours of May 31.

Schwartzbauer's body was recovered from the scene in northern Hubbard County and sent to Ramsey County Medical Center for an autopsy, which indicated Schwartzbauer died before the fire. Investigators also found pellets consistent with a shotgun in Schartzbauer's body tissue, as well as pellets and brass consistent with shotgun shells near where his body was located.

The coroner determined the death was a homicide.

Judge Robert Tiffany set bail at $1 million unconditional, $600,000 conditional with numerous conditions.His next court date is scheduled for Tuesday.

Sarah Smith of Forum News Service contributed to this report.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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