WAUSAU – Explosive testimony continues today as the second week of the trial of Kristopher Torgerson is now underway.
Torgerson, now 37, is accused of killing 22-year-old Stephanie Low in a fight over drugs, then burying her body in a wooded area near Wabeno. Low was reported missing in October 2010.
Torgerson has never admitted to police he killed Low, but in September 2014 led investigators to her remains after learning prosecutors were planning to file a “body-less” homicide charge against him, according to court records.
On the stand today: Andrea Wadinski, Torgerson’s girlfriend at the time Stephanie Low disappeared. In the witness box, Wadinski told jurors she knew Low first through a mutual friend, Elyssa Clendenning, then got to know Low better through her association with Torgerson and was a frequent visitor at Low’s apartment.
Wadinski recalled the morning of Low’s disappearance, telling jurors Torgerson first called her at 7:15 a.m. asking for directions to Wadinski’s mother’s cabin near Wabeno. That’s when Wadinski offered to take him to the cabin instead.
When she met Torgerson, Wadinski said, in his vehicle was a white camisole covered in blood and what appeared to be a body wrapped in a tarp.
Wadinski acknowledged that she led her then-boyfriend to the spot where Low was buried.
Wadinski admitted she lied to investigators on several occasions, telling jurors she was “too scared to tell police the truth” until she knew Torgerson would not harm her or he family. She went so far as to change her phone number in 2012 in an attempt to try not to “have contact with authorities,” according to her testimony. Wadinski also accused Torgerson’s ex-wife, Rebecca Torgerson, of threatening Wadinski’s daughter and intimidating her through Facebook messages.
Later in the afternoon, Torgerson’s longtime friend, Richard Hawkins, testified that he helped Torgerson move Low’s body and bury her in a shallow grave.
Hawkins told the jury that Torgerson took him to Low’s apartment and let himself in with a key.
“I get out and Kris gets out. He goes upstairs and what was surprising to me Kris had a key to the apartment. I said ‘What did you do?’ He didn’t answer me the first time. I asked him again, “What did you do to her? He replied, ‘She didn’t give me what I wanted,’” Hawkins testified.
Hawkins said he then saw Low on her bed, covered in blood.
“I saw blood and it was on her neck and the blanket, too”, he said.
“I replied I can’t help you man, I can’t do this…” Hawkins said.
But Torgerson told Hawkins he had to help because Hawkins was “in it now,” according to his testimony.
Hawkins then described how he rode with Torgerson to Wabeno, meeting Wadinski along the way, and helped him move the body into the woods.
Thomas Wilmouth, the defense attorney representing Torgerson, will cross-examine Hawkins when testimony resumes on Tuesday.
Kristopher Torgerson is being tried on charges of first-degree intentional homicide, armed robbery and hiding a corpse. He faces life in prison if convicted of the homicide charge alone.