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1 day after arrest, man charged with murder in wife's 1997 disappearance

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A former White Bear Township man was charged Wednesday with murder in connection with the disappearance of his wife 18 years ago.

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office announced it has charged Norman Allen Bachman, 53, with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, accusing him of killing Toni Bachman at their home in April 1997.

Toni Bachman's body has not been found. But County Attorney John Choi said he believes there is enough evidence to bring Norman Bachman to trial now, even though his predecessors declined to do so in 1997 and 1999, according to a news release from his office.

"Today’s charges represent a long-awaited call to justice for a grieving family," Choi said in the statement. "I want to thank the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office as well as my staff for their tireless work to bring this case before the court."

Norman Bachman was arrested Tuesday and made his first appearance in court Wednesday. His bail was set at $250,000, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Choi would not say whether any new evidence has been discovered since the last time authorities searched the White Bear Township home in 2012, according to the Star Tribune.

Toni Bachman disappears

Toni Bachman was 38 at the time she disappeared from the White Bear Township home she and her husband shared.

According to the criminal complaint, Bachman was using her home computer on April 25, 1997 when she emailed a friend that her husband Norman was “on his way home to fight. And I MEAN FIGHT."

The two of them were having marital problems and Toni Bachman told friends she was planning to ask for a divorce.

Bachman was never heard from again after that night.

Norman Bachman told police at the time that Toni had left him, but when authorities searched the Bachman home they found evidence that she had been killed – there were traces of blood and tissue in the basement, and DNA testing determined they matched Toni Bachman, according to the complaint.

Several days after she disappeared, Norman Bachman drove to a relative's farm in Verndale, Minnesota, along with his three sons. The sons said there were large coolers and a shovel in the back of the car. When they arrived at the farm their father went alone into a wooded area, saying he wanted to find a tree to plant at their home.

The complaint, which runs 21 pages, outlines a series of interviews that police conducted with Bachman's sons over the past several years, in which they described how they heard Toni scream from inside her bedroom shortly after their father went into the room. They also described a foul smell coming from their basement and from the coolers in the car.

They confronted their dad, asking him whether he had killed her. He denied it several times, according to the complaint.

But during a 2012 police interview, one of the Bachman sons, who is now 29, said he argued with his father about Toni Bachman's disappearance, and Norman Bachman admitting to killing her. But, according to the son, Norman said “nobody could prove it.”

After Bachman was arrested Tuesday, he again denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance.

This is not Norman Bachman’s first brush with the law. In 1998, he was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for raping and stabbing another woman, and was sentenced to five years in prison.

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