By Shereen Siewert
A Marshfield woman arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Christian Schauer will spend four years in prison on charges of hiding a corpse, but will not face homicide charges in the death.
Audrey Benson, 21, pleaded guilty Tuesday to the single felony charge. Circuit Judge Greg Huber agreed to dismiss the homicide charge against her with prejudice, which means the charge cannot be filed again.
In the formal legal world, a court case that is dismissed with prejudice means that it is dismissed permanently.
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. Four people emerged as suspects involved in his death including Steven A. Crandall, 24, who told detectives that he did not kill Schauer, but played a “major role”in the slaying. 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.
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 Audrey Benson told a different story that shifted the blame to Jared Carl. Shawn Carl’s homicide charges were eventually dropped.
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 in connection with the death. A sentencing hearing set for April was delayed until July, when Carl will learn his fate. Carl faces a mandatory life sentence, but Circuit Judge Suzanne O’Neill has discretion to allow for the possibility of extended release after a minimum of 20 years spent behind bars.
As for Benson, she will be required to spend three years on extended supervision following her release from prison and undergo assessment and treatment deemed appropriate by her agent. She was granted 435 days credit for time served.