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Sarah Smith, Forum News Service, Published June 21 2013

Minn. man accused of murdering roommate that was found dead in fire

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. - A northern Minnesota man is accused of shooting and killing his roommate with a shotgun before their home started on fire.

Frederick William Bachman, 26, was arrested Wednesday, more than two weeks after the fire at the Lake Hattie home he shared with the victim, James Schwartzbauer, 57.

Firefighters were called to the home at 5:30 a.m. May 31 and found the home was fully engulfed.

The complaint states Bachman was at the home and told emergency responders there may have been someone inside.

Bachman allegedly told numerous conflicting stories about how he tried to put the fire out. But investigators said his clothing did not smell of smoke and that he was able to rescue numerous personal possessions and move three cars before firefighters arrived on the scene.

Schwartzbauer’s body was found inside the home. But a coroner concluded Schwartzbauer was the victim of a shotgun blast prior to the fire, the complaint stated.

Bachman faces a single count of second degree murder, which carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison upon conviction.

He was arraigned Friday morning in Hubbard County District Court.

Judge Robert Tiffany set bail at $1 million unconditional, $600,000 conditional with numerous conditions.

According to the complaint, the two had been roommates the past four years. Schwartzbauer is listed as the owner of the home on Lake Hattie, south of Bemidji.

Bachman was represented by Minneapolis attorney Tracy Eichhorn-Hicks. His next appearance is set for Tuesday.