Suspect charged in murder of 19-year-old Hartford woman

CREATED Jul. 30, 2013 - UPDATED: Jul. 31, 2013

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  • Charles Benson and Carole Meekins report. Video by wtmj.com

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  • An arrest has been made in the murder of Jessie Blodgett, the 19-year-old woman from Hartford found dead in her home on July 16. Video by wtmj.com

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  • Lacey Crisp reports. Video by wtmj.com

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  • Lacey Crisp reports. Video by wtmj.com

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  • Charles Benson reports. Video by wtmj.com

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  • Keller Russell reports. Video by wtmj.com

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  • Charles Benson reports. Video by wtmj.com

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  • A video called "A Letter To Humanity," co-written by murder victim Jessie Blodgett. Video by YouTube | Photo: YouTube

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HARTFORD - The Washington County District Attorney's Office has charged a 19-year-old man in the case of the murder of Jessie Blodgett, a Washington County teenager.

Daniel Bartelt, 19, faces charges including 1st degree intentional homicide and 1st degree recklessly endangering safety.

He is the same man who is in custody after being charged for assaulting another woman.  In that case, he faces a charge of first degree intentional homicide.

The criminal complaint describes Daniel Bartelt as a young man obsessed with information about murders and serial killers.

Hartford Police say they have lots of evidence linking the suspect to the murder.

Police Chief David Groves broke his silence Wednesday on a case that has everyone in town talking.

“Mr. Bartelt has been removed from our community and has been continuously and securely in police custody.

Bartelt and Jessie were friends and once dated in high school.  48 hours after her death, investigators questioned the 19 year old but he denied any involvement.

Jessie had ligature marks indicating something had been tied around her neck, wrist and ankles.

Bartelt told investigators he was not at Jessie’s house the morning of the murder. He says he was at Woodlawn Union Park. 

In fact, a security camera got a picture of him there, but investigators say they also found evidence of the murder in park trash cans.

“Preliminary testing had revealed Mr. Bartelt’s D.N.A. on several of the ligatures found in the trash can at Woodlawn Park,” said Chief Groves.

Investigators found ropes and tape hidden inside a cereal box. They also found what appeared to be a homemade gag ball and beach towel with red stains in the trash. 

“Mr Bartelt’s fingerprints were identified on a roll of tape that officers had recovered from Ms. Blodgett’s bedroom,” said Groves.

Bartelt’s parents allegedly told investigators their son appeared depressed after dropping out of college last year.

Terese Hummel was Jessie’s friend and mentor.

“She was delightful,” said Hummel, “but I hate using the past tense. It took a long time to sink in.”

Hummel was at the police chief’s news conference looking for answers. 

“I was hoping to try to find some thread so that this would never happen again and I don’t know if we will ever know.”

One of the other disturbing details in the criminal complaint involves how, investigators say, Bartelt showed up at Jessie’s parents’ home for a private vigil the day after she was killed.

The case involves the third murder in 100 years in Hartford.

When asked by TODAY'S TMJ4's Keller Russell whether the two of them had any sort of relationship, Bartelt's defense attorney, Gary Schmaus, said "I know just from reading the criminal complaint it appeared there had been some contact between the two of them but the extent of that I don’t know at this point."

Blodgett’s death has broken lots of hearts in Hartford.

“Everyone was so taken aback that this would happen here of all places,” said Ana Genthe.

Genthe didn’t know the 19-year old musician and young actress, but she has seen firsthand a community on edge waiting for someone to be arrested.

“Everyone became detectives. Everyone wants to know who did it, why it happened and how it could happen” said Genthe.

Bartelt was arrested days after the mruder for a different case. He was charged with assaulting a 20-year old woman with a knife in a Richfield Park. She escaped by fighting off her attacker.       

“I want to know justice has been served,” said Genthe.

Jessie’s promising life ended while participating in a local production of Fiddler on the Roof.

“She was a lady who sparkled in a room full of shining people,” said Jerry Becker, the play director and family friend.

Like many here, Becker is waiting for closure.

“We just have to trust right now that what law enforcement and the District Attorney do on behalf of her memory will bring justice to her memory.” 

Scroll through the media gallery above to find a music video Blodgett recorded called "A Letter to Humanity."

Click here for the criminal complaint.

Keller Russell contributed to this report.