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A West Salem man killed his wife early Sept. 16 and tried to conceal her fatal injuries by staging an implausible traffic crash on a rural La Crosse County road, according to court records.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged Todd Kendhammer, 46, with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of his wife, Barbara Kendhammer. He is jailed on a $250,000 cash bond and returns to La Crosse County Circuit Court on Dec. 15 for a preliminary hearing.

“I’ve been working on this case for three months, and his arrest comes as a shock to us,” said his attorney, Jonas Bednarek.

Kendhammer told authorities the couple left their home between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m. Sept. 16 for Holmen, where he planned to pick up a truck to replace its windshield.

Barbara Kendhammer was scheduled for work at 8 a.m. at West Salem Middle School and the owner of the truck said he did not arrange for Kendhammer to repair the damaged windshield, according to the criminal complaint.

Kendhammer said they were driving north on Hwy. M when a 53-inch pipe fell from an oncoming flatbed truck, bounced off the pavement and impaled the passenger side of the windshield, striking his 46-year-old wife, according to his initial statement to authorities.

He later said the pipe flew off the truck and did not strike the pavement before passing through the windshield. Before impact, he said he hit the windshield with his left hand to try to block the object, according to the complaint.

He turned onto nearby Bergum Coulee Road, a dead-end road seven miles from the couple’s home at N6617 E. Scotch Coulee Road, before backing the couple’s Toyota Camry off the road. He removed the pipe from the windshield and his wife from her seat to perform life-saving measures for three to five minutes before calling 911 at 8:06 a.m., according to the complaint.

An autopsy found Barbara Kendhammer died of blunt force injuries to her head and neck, including skull fractures, brain swelling and injury, fractured cartilage and neck muscle hemorrhaging.

She also had possible scratches and other injuries to her neck and torn fingernails, indicative of a struggle.

The pattern of her injuries — including a cut to her forehead, three to the back of her head, nasal fractures and others — were inconsistent with Todd Kendhammer’s account of the incident, according to the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Todd Kendhammer had scratches on his neck and chest and injuries to the knuckles of his left hand, inflicted because he said he “works with glass all of the time and gets scratched up,” according to the complaint.

A passerby who spotted the couple’s Camry in the ditch on Bergum Coulee Road noticed the passenger door open but did not see anyone around the car. There was no damage to the windshield, the complaint stated.

A Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory analyst found blood inside the car and on the rear passenger side wheel.

There were multiple impact points on the windshield, including one that indicated an object struck but did not shatter the glass.

Based on the spread of broken glass, the analyst found it was unlikely a passenger was inside the vehicle when the windshield shattered and that it likely broke when the passenger door was open, according to the complaint.

Kendhammer said the passing flatbed truck was blue, green or black with 18 to 24-inch metal sides but could not identify the gender of the driver. Authorities could not locate the truck described by Kendhammer on surveillance video from area businesses.

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(60) comments

awol2009

They still have the family pic up on the Android Tribune mobile app. If the LaCrosse Tribune had any ethics, they would take them down, quit exploiting them.

Opinion

It appears to be gone now!!!!! They listened?!!! Shocker

Irish

Very sad for all concerned. I hope the tribune learns not to accuse before the judge and jury get a chance to hear all the facts in a court of law. I am not sticking up for Todd by any means, but I am sticking up for fair and accurate reporting, like Todd is arrested for the murder, not Todd killed. Also I am sticking up for lawyers and defendants that try to get a fair trial in our community without the press making the decision for us.

Condor Kid

So sorry for family and friends but it ain't looking good for Todd. Jury will see the evidence that does not lie and they will decide.

chucker

Guilty period !! way to many fake statements , kinda like the story the guy said that killed his parents up there , West Salem getting to violent for a small town !

awol2009

As for the La Crosse Tribune using accused/victim's FB pictures? Yes, it's true people give up their privacy if they post stuff publicly and have low privacy settings on FB. It's really lame, sick, and very tabloid of the Tribune to exploit the family, especially the victim and her kids this way. This is NOT ethical. It is outright sleazy, lazy, trolling, non-journalism, Tribune. Absolutely shameful.

badboy

So you are saying the Trib shouldn't post any pictures when someone is a crime victim?

Opinion

Of course they should post pictures of the CRIMINAL. Not the children in this case. The nice family picture they posted was wrong. They are having a hard enough time with this, they didn't need their picture in the media. It's a sad, sad situation. This family has lost both of their parents.

awol2009

It's a sleazy, lazy, uncouth way to sell papers. The defendant's mug shot would have been sufficient. Trolling Facebook for victim and family member's photos is really sloppy and tacky "journalism".

badboy

I only saw the accused and the victim. I agree no need to bring the children in.

bartleybigears

Well when Wisconsin DCI became involved you know they were thinking homicide. And the evidence (especially the autopsy) shows that what he says happened is not what killed his wife. If he was the only person with her when she ended up with the fatal injuries then he did it. Period.

awol2009

Read the criminal complaint. Kendhammer's explanation of events just don't make sense as to where they were going and why. It doesn't check out with the guy he said he was going to see about a truck windshield repair. There wasn't a plan, according to the guy that owned the truck. His wife was due at work at 8:00 a.m., never showed. Why would they be driving 4-5 miles north of W.Salem at the time his wife was due at work in W.Salem? She had not scheduled PTO, nor called in sick. He told cops his wife had flex sched. on that day. Her boss said she didn't. Many other discrepancies in series of events and postmortem medical exam show severe injuries inconsistent with what he said happened. People aren't always what they appear to be. She deserves justice as do her children and other family members.

UseYourHead

The whole story was fishy from the beginning, it seems as though there must have been enough details that didn't match up for them to investigate further, not to mention any time someone dies in an automobile accident there is reconstructions and investigations. The facts and evidence didn't match up, further investigation has been done and enough evidence was present to suspect something is not right. Have you read the criminal complaint? If you haven't you should do so. I hope that for Barb's sake that this matter is put to rest appropriately and that if there is anyone responsible in any part for her death, they are held responsible. Todd is innocent until proven guilty however this seems to be more than a "freak accident" and it appears that someone is responsible for the injuries that Barb sustained that lead to her death. I have attached the link to the Criminal Complaint, take a moment to read it, see if it changes your standpoint at all https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=http://WXOW.images.worldnow.com/library/bfd2f690-f7c1-47af-89df-333d6d4c0a2f.pdf

theluckiest

Barb was a kind, gentle soul who is dearly missed. May we all pray that her kids and family have the strength to accept whatever lies ahead for them. I can't imagine the pain they must be feeling.

ditchlilly

First of all, when someone puts pictures on Facebook, web, etc. It's no longer private, it is public property. Reading the medical examiner's report it certainly raises a lot of questions. We will have to hope and pray that it is investigated more, and if a trial comes about, the jurors listen and vote with their minds and the evidence exhibited, not partiality to the victim or the accused. However this turns out, the children of Barbara have my condolences.

laxlax

I agree. If pictures were "stolen" off anyone's facebook page, they obviously have their page set to public.

Walter Sobchak

Grampy, there is no truck!!!

chucker

To much mystery here ?? WHY was the car down the road on a another road ?? and yes they may have put on a good show that they were a Happy couple , but maybe not so much ?? People change over the years !! and WHY all the extra wounds on her & him ?? maybe a big blow out fight ??

UseYourHead

Why was she even in the car when she was supposed to be at work? If she was going to help her husband why wouldn't she call work or text a co-worker and tell them?

laxlax

Agreed!! Doesn't make sense.

k

The writer ms jungen,said in the article he killed his wife. Wrong choice of words,he has not ben found guilty as of yet!

snow_informer

A lot of stuff happens behind closed doors. Unless you yourself have experienced domestic violence, you will not believe it to the full extent that it goes. I grew up with a scary, abusive father and it disgusted me when people would say how nice he was and how he would never hurt my mom or us kids. I still can hear his voice calling me ugly and worthless decades later. These two may have seemed happy but oftentimes in cases like this, it is a complete shock to all around them because he seemed so nice. Read the medical examiner's report. Nice people don't kill others. Just because you didn't ever see him strike her doesn't mean it never happened. Why do people defend abusers?

awol2009

You can read the criminal complaint here:
https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=http://WXOW.images.worldnow.com/library/bfd2f690-f7c1-47af-89df-333d6d4c0a2f.pdf
There is more detail and fact than what reporters have listed. Far more bodily injury to this woman than pipe coming through windshield would have caused, per the medical examiner. Kendhammer is innocent until proven guilty. All I can say is that his defense attorney has some tough work ahead of him.........

IStandwithTodd

First of all Anne Jungen, you should be ashamed of yourself for writing an article with only the facts that have been given to you by the police and investigators. in order to be a decent reporter one must investigate and comprise their own evidence along with whats given to them by the one sided investigators... Anyone that thinks just because the pipe didn't fall off the truck in the reenactment as it did the way Todd described, that must mean it couldn't happen...lets try an experiment...how about you stand with a pencil in your hand in drop it. Remember how it fell...now try it again...did it fall and bounce in the same way? If it did, boy oh boy you should play the lottery. I hear a lot of garbage about how they found blood, but has the media told you whose? Im thinking whitetail, squirrel, fish, etc is not uncommon to find in an outdoorsman's garage. Human blood other than Todd's found in that garage? Not that they have said... I hear more garbage about a life insurance policy. Have they said as to whose name it was in? Has anyone that is close to the family ever suspected any domestic abuse? How about the harassment Todd has been facing since Barb passed away? No one has been talking about that either... Or, what about looking into the investigator that is creating these allegations about Todd? Anyone look into his personal life to see if maybe he has some skeletons in his closet that he may be using to pin against Todd? Be careful by what you read and see in the media...and if you don't know this family personally you can keep your comments to yourself. I stand with Todd and his family in support of his innocence because the media is ruining a wonderful man. It is sickening.

laxlax

It's obvious that you are close to this family and I admire your loyalty to Todd and the family. I don't understand how you can shame a reporter for reporting the information they are given. This has just been released and that is the media's job, release to the public what they know. Given a chance, maybe she will interview others and see if there is something the public needs to know that will paint a different picture of Todd. If she finds out something that none of you knew that isn't going to make him look as great as you think, do you want her to report that as well?? My guess is that you only want them reporting the positive attributes of him and not the negative. I read the criminal complaint and the Medical Examiners findings. Just because Barbara didn't "complain" to co-workers or friends about her husband or because everyone thought they were soul mates and the "perfect couple" doesn't make it true. There is a lot that can happen behind closed doors and be hidden very easily. I don't think that his charges were based solely on the re-construction of the "accident". If you read the criminal complaint, you will see there are several inconsistencies in Todd's story and no one to collaborate his story. As unfortunate as it is to see someone you care about in a situation like this, you can't honestly believe that the police have nothing better to do. Don't you think they would love to say that it was a tragic accident and move on? They investigated it for a reason and we, the public, need to respect their job. I am sure it wasn't easy for any of them to make this arrest.

laxlax

I also have not read anywhere that he did it for the insurance money. If someone is saying that, they aren't getting it from the criminal complaint, they are assuming. I will say that he is innocent until proven guilty in my eyes, although I know that others have already convicted him.

JT

She never leaves the office. Doesn't give all information because she just gets an email of what to write. Copy & Paste and she is done for the day !!!

laxlax

Yet the information she received was from investigators who did leave the office a did do their due diligence to find the truth. Either way, if her job is to report what she is told by the police, then that is what she is suppose to do. I agree that tge media can make things seem a lot different than what they are but I personally read the criminal complaint and medical examiners report and those pieces are not fabricated.

JT

What does the La Crosse Tribune need her for ??? She does nothing !!

JT

This is how the write the articles in the La Crosse Tribune !!!!https://www.facebook.com/laxso/photos/a.202423373150748.48958.187157274677358/1266077516785323/?type=3&theater

laxlax

Just read the criminal complaint which is available to the public. If you read that, you will see that it isn't just about the re-construction of the accident. There is much more to the story and it isn't coming from a reporter, it is coming from the investigators.

grampy

Todd is still in shock from this accident, if he did it he wont be in shock 3 months later

laxlax

That Koula guy was in "shock" for a long time too.

UseYourHead

Seriously? You are not very smart are you?

UseYourHead

"if he did it he wont be in shock 3 months later" That doesn't even make sense!

LuckyLife

What's sickening is the medical examiners report. Your loyalty is admirable - Barb deserved it, but given the violent way she was murdered, Todd does not.

Clarification

There is a difference between a "police reporter" and an "investigative reporter." A person covering the police beat reports the facts: the man stands accused and reports on why he has been accused. They do not draw conclusions, just write the situation as it has developed. You are free to stand with whomever you want, and he will be tried by a jury of his peers. Perhaps it was all a tragic error, and the truth will prevail. But don't blame a reporter for doing her job.

Timeforchange

I do know this family. Worked with Barb for years. Never once did she ever complain about him. She adored him and he of her. No i don't know what happen behind closed doors true. But I truly do don't think he could of hurt her. Prayers for the 2 kids stay strong. And to both familys my heart and prayers go out to you. And stay strong Todd prayers for you also.

laxlax

Domestic violence is hidden every day. Even with that being said, it may not have every happened before, one thing that happened could have set him off into a rage. None of us will ever know. I feel bad for the kids as they may never know what truly happened unless their Father comes clean if he did indeed hurt their Mother.

grampy

No way with Todd and Barb, they were so much in love with each other, no way he could have did this. cops better get to work and fine this truck. just because it didn't go past the banks, the truck probably turn off on a side road, because there are two county roads it could have turned on

UseYourHead

It's going to be really hard to find a truck that no one else seen and Todd doesn't have a consistent description of... isn't it? Also a truck that was not seen on the surveillance camera of the horse ranch just down the road, from what i recall of the last couple of times i was on that road, there is not many access roads to M between the Ranch and the accident site

YellowBee

I didn't know this family at all, but his story didn't add up from the get go. How does a metal pipe roll off a truck at just angle to hit her?? [rolleyes]

awol2009

This is so bizarre and unbelievable. There must be many more details about this that authorities can't disclose yet. What we thought was a freak accident wasn't? How tragic for this woman, her kids, other family and friends. He's innocent until proven guilty, but either way, his life and his kids life will never be the same.

LuckyLife

All of the evidence will tell the story. The accident re-creation is a small part. The medical examiners report will be key. So sad for their family that they will not have peace now throughout this ordeal. Prayers for them...

wknmom

I know nothing about this couple, but people can be very different behind closed doors. It is very sad but true.

Opinion

Really Tribune?? You have to take pictures off of Facebook and post of their family. Did you get permission to use these? How sad this is for his son and daughter and family as well. Can you have a little compassion here? RIP Barb.

UseYourHead

Do you really think that the La Crosse Tribune is the only ones using photographs that were posted on Facebook? Once you post pictures on any social media they become public pictures, many of the news companies have used the same photographs, even The Wisconsin Sate Journal.

TotemPole

no way. great guy. great family. tragic loss

justbnice

All I know is that they better have some pretty hard evidence.

k

True,how could they create the exact same circumstances,wonder if the pick up was ever located.

justbnice

I would think not....because the thought is there wasn't one.

grampy

I think the cops are picking on the wrong person, Lacrosse County Cops cant catch anybody, because there where murders in the county 20 some years back and no one was ever caught and Todd is not guilty

laxlax

So glad that you know that he is not guilty. Before drawing any conclusions, I, myself read the criminal complaint. I suggest you do the same!!!

badboy

Grampy you are delusional. Todd is gulity

crazierthings

I would have said the same thing as FireCapt a few weeks back but there are things that don't add up in this case. As is the case in so many other domestic assault tragedies where we "thought" we knew the people but really had no idea. So sorry if this is true.

FMC651

The mug shot of this man looks like a hand in the cookie jar look. Add to that the strangeness of the accident and it is suspicious indeed.

k

How would anyone look in a mugshot under these circumstances

FireCapt

Unbelievable, there is absolutely no way this is true. I have never met someone who lived for or loved his wife more than Todd did. There is no way anyone could make me believe he could have done this. Stay strong my friend!

laxlax

From what I have heard he is a great guy and they had a great relationship, however, you never know what happens behind closed doors. Ever since they said they were investigating this accident, I knew that they had some reason to believe it wasn't actually an accident, however, I was hoping that wasn't the case. They don't just arrest someone unless they have solid evidence of wrong doing.

k

I didnt know this couple. Personally, i dont know what to think. Sounds like a strange accident,however life is full of unexpected strange events. If they are wrong,he must be in terrible mental termoil. I hope this family finds closure either way. Such a tragedy.

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