(HARTFORD, Wis.) — A Wisconsin man charged with homicide has reportedly denied killing the 19-year-old actress he once dated in high school.
Daniel Bartelt, 19, of Hubertus, Wis., appeared stone-faced in court Wednesday as his attorney argued that the young man is mentally unfit to stand trial for allegedly killing Jessie Blodgett after she returned home from a cast party July 15.
“I didn’t see a whole lot of emotion other than when he spoke, he was very soft spoken,” defense attorney Gary Schmaus said. “My feeling was that it was important to have him evaluated as soon as possible.”
Bartelt has denied killing Blodgett, according to police affidavits in the criminal complaint and probable cause documents.
Lawyers for both sides say Bartelt’s life has been unraveling since dropping out of college, and lying to his parents about going to a job he reportedly lost months ago.
“He looked at this as a failure, and this caused him some emotional turmoil,” Schmaus said.
Police say Bartelt has admitted to attacking another woman three days before Blodgett’s death, calling it, “a spur of the moment decision…to scare her.” He faces three felony counts in the attack, including first-degree attempted homicide, first-degree recklessly endangering safety and false imprisonment.
For Blodgett’s murder, Bartelt has been charged with first degree intentional homicide.
Blodgett’s parents found her dead in their Hartford, Wis., home at a time when she was starring in a community production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Blodgett’s mother, according to a police affidavit, said her daughter arrived home around 1 a.m. from a cast party, and went to bed alone. At 8 a.m., her mother says, she brought clothes to her daughter’s room before leaving for work.
Four hours later, she discovered Blodgett’s lifeless body when a student of the aspiring music teacher came to the house for a piano lesson.
Initially, detectives told the court that after a thorough search of the Blodgett home, they were unable to determine the implements used to bind the teen singer’s hands and feet and strangle her. New documents released by prosecutors reveal that several types of industrial tape, ropes, and zip ties were found in Bartelt’s home and vehicle. Detectives say they are a match for similar items found in a trash can at a nearby park, where police have uncovered surveillance video of Bartelt, recorded on the day of slaying.
“When the ligature recovered from Woodlawn Park was analyzed, DNA from both Mr. Bartelt and Ms. Blodgett were found,” Hartford Police Chief David Groves said.
The documents also outline disturbing internet searches Bartelt is accused of performing on his laptop, including the body counts of famous killers, “spree killing,” and the Wikipedia entries for two high-profile strangulation cases.
News of the arrest has stunned many in the tiny town of Hartford, who remember Bartelt as a shy student and a musical actor in his own right. In high school, he sang alongside his alleged victim in choir. In May, Blodgett posted a duet with her alleged killer to her YouTube account.
Police have not suggested a motive, but say Bartelt acknowledges the two dated as freshmen, and were recently spending time together because the couple remained friends after their relationship ended. Friends of Blodgett tell ABC News that Bartelt recently professed rekindled interest for his singing partner, but the feelings weren’t mutual.
A judge has granted the defense’s request for a mental health evaluation, and Bartelt is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 4.
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