By Shereen Siewert, Wausau Pilot & Review

A Wisconsin Rapids man is the fourth person to be charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a Marathon County man after allegations surfaced that the death was a murder for hire, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Steven A. Crandall, 24, told detectives that he did not kill Christian Schauer, but played a “major role” in the 20-year-old man’s death, according to a criminal complaint. Schauer’s body was found Dec. 29, 2020 by a fur trapper at the south end of Abe Lincoln Avenue in Spencer, just south of Swamp Road in Marathon County. Crandall allegedly said he placed a hit on Schauer, agreeing to pay three Chicago men $5,000 to kill Schauer. Crandall said he made the arrangements because he believed Schauer stole money and drugs from one of Crandall’s dealers, the complaint states.

A warrant has been issued for Crandall’s arrest. He faces charges filed Feb. 23 in Marathon County Circuit Court of first-degree intentional homicide, as party to a crime.

This is the latest twist in a convoluted case that already netted three arrests.

On Feb. 5, 2021, acting on a citizen tip, investigators located Schauer’s vehicle on a property near Stratford in the Town of Eau Pleine. 20-year-old Jared R. Carl lived at the property and was arrested that day for possession of stolen property related to the homicide along with drug and weapons charges. Four days later Jared’s father, 50-year-old Shawn R. Carl, was arrested on homicide charges.

Prosecutors say Jared Carl told police his father shot Schauer five or six times in an argument over drugs. But 21-year-old Audrey Benson told a different story that shifted the blame to Jared Carl. As a result, Shawn Carl’s homicide charges were dropped, but he continues to face charges of harboring or aiding a felon and several associated weapons charges.

In police interviews, Crandall allegedly detailed the murder for hire arrangement he made and said he met with the men in Chicago a couple of weeks before Schauer was killed. Crandall did not identify the hit men, describing them only as two black men and one Hispanic man, the complaint states. After Schauer’s death, Crandall allegedly met with the men at a Marshfield hotel and paid them $5,000 in cash. Crandall also told police he put a hit on another victim for the same reason.

Jared Carl pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree intentional homicide in December and will be sentenced in April.

Benson, of Marshfield, faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide as party to a crime, hiding a corpse and resisting or obstructing an officer. A jury trial is set to begin in July.

See our previous reporting, below.