A day after he was arrested, Norman Bachman was charged today with second-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with his wife's disappearance from White Bear Township back in the spring of 1997.
Ramsey County Attorney's Office spokesperson Dennis Gerhardstein says there was no single smoking gun that links Bachman to the disappearance of Toni Bachman all these years later, but a fresh look at the overall evidence led prosecutors to believe they can now prove Norman is guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt.
(You can read the lengthy criminal complaint details the allegations against Bachman for yourself here.)
"Some folks came forward, and some of the re-interviews we did back in 2012 helped," Gerhardstein tells Fox 9. "There isn't really one piece that pushed us over the edge, but it took a great deal of investigative work to get to this point."
According to information provided by Ramsey County, Bachman, 53, will make his first appearance in Ramsey District Court this afternoon. Two previous reviews of the case file by Ramsey County prosecutors in 1997 and 1999 led to a decline of charges due to insufficient evidence.
A Ramsey County press release reveals some of the new information that came to light as investigators took a fresh look at Toni Bachman's disappearance:
Investigators re-interviewed [Norman Bachman's children from a previous marriage] again in 2003 with similar results, but often a few more details emerged, for instance, about the trip to Verndale [that occurred shortly after Toni's disappearance]. A series of interviews in 2012 revealed three items of note:
-- On April 2, 2012, Christopher (now age 26) recalled his brother Fred asking whether the victim was in the back of the car on the way upon to the farmhouse. The defendant reportedly told Fred that he "didn't want to hear any more about it."
-- On June 7, 2012, Fredrick (now age 29) told investigators that, after confronting the defendant about the victim's disappearance, Bachman admitting killing her but that "nobody could prove it."
-- On January 15, 2015, Christopher (now age 29) told investigators the night before the Verndale trip, he heard the defendant doing something near the root cellar with plastic sheeting.
The complaint, citing information from online chat groups that Toni Bachman participated in, indicates the then 38-year-old Hamline University employee was unhappy with her marriage to Norman and in an online relationship with another man.
Norman, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 1998 for stabbing and raping another woman, claims that on April 25, 1997, he took his kids to the store, and when he returned home, Toni had abruptly left. He acknowledges the two were discussing getting a divorce at the time but has consistently denied playing any role in her disappearance.