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Man charged in bizarre murder

An unknown relationship between two Hubbard County men has led to the death of one and murder charges against the other.

According to Hubbard county authorities, the body of James Michael Schwartzbauer, 57, was recovered from a fire in a home on Beauty Lake in Lake Hattie Township May 31. A coroner’s report concluded Schwartzbauer was dead of shotgun injuries before the fire started.

Firefighters arrived at the home at 5:30 on the morning of May 31 to find the home fully engulfed.

A man who identified himself as Fredrick William Bachman, 26, was on the scene. Bachman, according to the criminal complaint filed against him last week, said he awoke to the sound of a smoke detector and rushed to put out the fire.

The complaint noted that Bachman was fully clothed at the scene and had managed to salvage several items of personal property and move three vehicles out of the way by the time firefighters arrived on the scene.

“The personal items included his computer, alcohol bottles, pipe and tobacco, firearm and a samurai sword,” the complaint indicated. Bachman told conflicting stories of trying to rescue his roommate of the past four years, Schwartzbauer.

“Neither Bachman nor any of his personal belongings smelled of smoke,” the criminal complaint states.

His behavior at the fire scene raised several red flags to authorities.

“Witnesses at the fire scene reported that Bachman was calm and did not show any emotion until he discovered that one of his bottles of alcohol was broken and then Bachman became very upset,” the criminal complaint states.

Sheriff Cory Aukes said the fire and Schwartzbauer’s death were “kept under wraps” for two weeks, which allowed authorities to complete their investigation.

Last Wednesday Bachman was arrested at his mother’s home in the Minneapolis area.

He was returned to Hubbard County, where he was arraigned Friday on a charge of Second Degree Murder. Bail was set at $1 million unconditional; $600,000 with numerous conditions attached such as Bachman having no contact with alcohol, drugs or the crime scene. He is not allowed to leave the state.

The Lakes Area Dive Team recovered a shotgun about 38 feet in the lake.

“Bachman stated that the decedent was his best friend and that he loved him but that the night of May 30th  and early hours of May 31st they had an argument that escalated and became heated,” the complaint states.

The accused

Fredrick William Bachman has a troubled past, mostly in Anoka and Ramsey counties.

In 2006 he pled guilty to domestic assault, interfering with a 911 call and obstructing the legal process. He received a stayed sentence and was ordered to have no contact with the female victim, get psychological counseling and refrain from alcohol use and not possess a firearm. That year there were also some alcohol-related charges.

In 2007 he incurred a traffic violation and another conviction for domestic abuse. He was given 20 days in jail for violating a protection order. The jail term was suspended if he paid the fine in a timely manner.

In 2008 he pled guilty to a domestic assault and sentenced to the Ramsey County Workhouse, where records indicate he served nearly a year.

One month before that conviction he entered guilty plea to leaving the scene of an accident and some type of public nuisance charge. It appears from the court record that he served both sentences at the workhouse concurrently with the domestic assault.

In 2009 he faced numerous charges arising from an arrest on a motorcycle, mainly reckless driving. The case took three years to wind through the legal system. Bachman’s fine was eventually turned over to a collection agency. He was ordered to serve five days in jail.

“Bachman’s brother, who was a juvenile in 2001, was allegedly abused by the decedent in 2001 when Bachman’s brother was placed with the decedent as a foster child,” the criminal complaint stated. “Bachman told the Fire Marshal that the reported allegations did not include his juvenile brother as a victim.”

Larson said the Bachman name didn’t sound familiar to him, but said one of the boys in the house at the time was 12 or 13 years old.

Judge Paul Rasmussen was set to review Bachman’s bail on Tuesday, the day this article went to press.

Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said he could not comment on the relationship between the two men, or Bachman’s alleged involvement with the 2001 case.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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