CHARGED: 34-year-old man leads police to body of woman, reported missing from Wausau in 2010
MADISON (WITI) — The Wisconsin Department of Justice has announced that Kristopher Torgerson, charged with first degree intentional homicide, attempted armed robbery as a repeater, and hiding a corpse as a repeater, made an initial appearance on Wednesday, October 15th in Marathon County court -- where bond was set at $2 million. 34-year-old Torgerson is charged in connection with the death of Stephanie Low, which occurred on October 10th, 2010.
A criminal complaint filed against Torgerson says Stephanie Low was reported missing by her mother on October 10th, 2010.
The complaint says some individuals stopped by Low's apartment on that date and slipped the lock -- finding Low's two dogs, but not Low. They left a note and left to check around town for Low.
When a police officer entered Low's apartment, he noticed an odor of cleaning solution -- and no sheets or blankets on the bed in the bedroom that Low uses. That officer also noticed what appeared to be blood on the bed. The complaint says there was a relatively strong odor of bleach on the bed, and there was an area of the bed that was wet.
The complaint says the officer observed what appeared to be blood in a number of areas around Low's bedroom.
Eventually, samples of blood were obtained, as was a toothbrush belonging to Low. The Wisconsin State Crime Lab was able to determine that the blood had DNA which matched the DNA obtained from the toothbrush.
The complaint says inside Low's apartment, a safe was found, containing 32 plastic baggies containing .04-.05 grams of what tested positive as cocaine. Another tied plastic baggie contained approximately 7.18 grams of a substance that tested positive for cocaine, and police found a number of other items that are consistent with a person selling controlled substances.
The complaint says police spoke with an inmate at the Marathon County Jail -- who told police an individual he knows as "Spider," (which is Torgerson's nickname) had approached him while they were at a mutual friend's residence -- saying he needed to get rid of Low's hands because his DNA would be under her fingernails. The complaint says the inmate told police Torgerson knew his family had swampy land in the Antigo area.
Police interviewed the mother of Torgerson's girlfriend, who said on October 10th, 2010, she was made aware that Torgerson had taken a boat from a condo she owned that his girlfriend lived in -- to a cabin that Torgerson's girlfriend's mother owned near Wabeno, Wisconsin. The mother of Torgerson's girlfriend told police she thought this was strange because Torgerson's girlfriend said he had been out all night the night before, and when she saw the boat, which was to be stored for winter at the cabin, it wasn't fully covered and other winterization items weren't complete. The mother of Togerson's girlfriend told police she found a knife in the boat, according to the complaint.
Police spoke with Torgerson's ex-wife, who said that in August of 2011, Torgerson asked her to help him dig up Low's body -- saying he killed Low because she owed him money, but he couldn't find the safe containing the drugs. Torgerson's wife told police he said his DNA would be under Low's fingernails, and that there was still a knife in Low's chest, according to the complaint.
The complaint says Torgerson's ex-wife told police Torgerson told her he buried Low under a rock.
The complaint says Torgerson was arrested after he put his girlfriend's van into a ditch in Antigo on August 24th, 2011.
The complaint says police spoke with Torgerson's girlfriend, who told them that she knew nothing about what happened with Low, saying she went nowhere on October 10th, 2010. The complaint says police obtained her cell phone records, which showed she was in the Antigo area on October 10th, 2010.
Police say to go to Wabeno from Wausau, you would have to go through Antigo.
Police say at this point, Torgerson's girlfriend admitted to some involvement in the hiding of Low's corpse.
The complaint says Torgerson's girlfriend told police in the early morning hours of October 10th, 2010, she saw Torgerson when he came to his apartment -- saying she was staying there with his children and her child while Torgerson went out. That's when Torgerson's girlfriend told police he told her he "did something bad to Low" -- using a gesture like a slashing of a knife across the throat in reference to what he did.
The complaint says Torgerson's girlfriend told police that after Torgerson used her van in August 2011 and was arrested after putting the van in a ditch, she found a large knife in the van.
The complaint says Torgerson's girlfriend told police Torgerson wanted to take Low's body up to the cabin her mother owned, saying she led him there on the morning of October 10th, 2010. She told police she met Torgerson and another individual at a gas station in Weston, Wisconsin and then Torgerson followed her from that location to the cabin in the Wabeno area.
The complaint says once there, Torgerson's girlfriend said Torgerson tried to give her money with blood on it, which she declined.
The complaint says Torgerson's girlfriend said Torgerson asked where there was a hardware store nearby where he could buy a shovel. Police went to that store, and sales records showed a purchase of a shovel on the morning of October 10th, 2010.
Torgerson's girlfriend told police that during early press coverage of Low's disappearance, it was reported that a safe filled with drugs was discovered in her apartment. Torgerson's girlfriend told police Torgerson told her "that's what I was looking for," according to the complaint.
Police spoke with the second individual who was with Torgerson when they traveled to the cabin in Wabeno, and he initially denied any involvement, but eventually admitted that he assisted Torgerson in moving Low's body.
The complaint says that individual told police that on October 9th, 2010, he was with Torgerson at a night club in Wausau, where he said Torgerson said on a number of occasions that he was tired of always being broke. The complaint says the individual told police Torgerson dropped him off initially at Torgerson's apartment, but later believed it may have actually been Torgerson's girlfriend's condo -- and Torgerson left.
The complaint says the next morning, Torgerson returned, and the individual told police Torgerson asked him for help with something before they went to Low's apartment. They entered Low's apartment, and the complaint says the individual told police he observed Low's body on the bed, rolled up in blankets. The complaint says the individual told police Torgerson asked him for help moving the body from the apartment to Torgerson's vehicle.
The complaint says they moved Low's body to Torgerson's vehicle, and then followed Torgerson's girlfriend to the cabin in Wabeno.
The complaint says this individual told police they bought a shovel and then dug a grave -- burying Low's body and rolling a rock over it.
In September of 2014, police interviewed Torgerson, who said he could led them to Low's body. They then went to the Wabeno area, and Torgerson led them to a location where they discovered a female body. That body was removed from the ground and taken to Madison for a forensic autopsy. A broken knife was found with the body, along with a key for a safe -- located in the woman's shirt pocket, according to the complaint.
The body was positively identified as that of Stephanie Low.
Torgerson was charged with possession of methamphetamine in 2012 -- and in that case, he was sentenced to four years in prison and two years of extended supervision.
He is currently serving that sentence.
In the case involving Low's death, Torgerson has a preliminary hearing set for November 25th.