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Man Pleads Guilty To Manslaughter In Wife's 1997 Disappearance

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - The near 20-year mystery of what happened to a Minnesota woman is over. On Friday, Toni Bachman's husband, Norman, admitted he strangled his wife during a fight and then covered up the crime.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter. As part of the plea deal Bachman will get 13 years in prison. But if he agrees to help investigators find the body, that sentence would be reduced to 10 years.

"He's in jail. That's where he needs to be," said Tim Reineccius, Toni's brother.

For 18 years, Toni Bachman's family has wondered what led to her disappearance. Toni was last seen alive at the couple's home in White Bear Township in 1997.

For years, friends suspected Norman Bachman had something to do with her disappearance because she had planned to leave him after meeting someone else.
Her body was never found. On Friday, her family got their answers.

"Hard to hear but there's always been an inkling of hope," Reineccius said. "Now, we know what happened."

For more than an hour, her family listened to Norman describe the crime that took Toni's life and the attempts to hide it.

"Hearing the admission speaks volumes," Reineccius said.

Norman Bachman admitted to strangling Toni on April 27th 1997.

On the stand he said, "She was fighting back to begin with, when she fell, she wasn't fighting anymore."

He also described hiding her body in the basement of his home for two days before dismembering her. When asked, why, he said, "So I could move her around. I couldn't move her, she was too heavy."

DNA evidence left behind wasn't enough to bring charges 18 years ago, but this April Ramsey County Attorney John Choi moved forward with the case.

"These cases, as they get older, they don't get any better and I think this is something some people might characterized as a risk that we had to take," Choi said. "But, I also think it was something we had to do."

Bachman testified that it was another three days before he buried Toni's dismembered body in a different location. Now, it's the one unanswered question that still haunts Toni's family.

"I would love to be able to find where she's at so we could have a funeral service," Reineccius said.

Bachman was originally charged with one count of second degree murder and one count of first degree manslaughter. In the plea deal the more murder charge, which carried a maximum prison sentence of 40 years, was dropped.

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