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Man accused of shooting roommate found dead in Park Rapids fire

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A northern Minnesota man is accused of killing his roommate with a shotgun before their home near Park Rapids started on fire.

Forum News Service reports 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. The cause of the fire is not yet determined.

The Bemidji Fire Department, along with deputies from the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office, were called to the home the two men shared on May 31, according to the Bemidji Pioneer. There, they found Bachman standing with personal items outside Schwartzbauer’s burning house.

Bachman allegedly told numerous conflicting stories about how he tried to put the fire out, according to Forum. 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, according to a criminal complaint.

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, where bail was set at $1 million unconditional, or $600,000 conditional with numerous conditions.

In fact, the Bemidji Pioneer gives a detailed recounting of the complaint, including that the two had been roommates the past four years.

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