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Ex-Boyfriend Allegedly Strangled 20-Year-Old Woman to Death, Dumped Body in Abandoned Foundation, ‘Covered It with Large Wooden Logs’

A picture shows Ian J. Hasselwander.

Ian J. Hasselwander.  (Image via the Rensselaer County, N.Y. Sheriff’s Office.)

Grim details are emerging in a criminal case against a young Upstate New York man charged with murdering a young woman.

Ian J. Hasselwander, 22, of Petersburg, N.Y., is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault, first-degree strangulation, and concealment of a human corpse, the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Department said Friday evening. Petersburg — sometimes invariably spelled Petersburgh by the locals — is east-northeast of Albany near where the borders of New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont converge.

The defendant is alleged to have strangled and murdered Morgan Bates, a 20-year-old area woman who disappeared more than a week prior to the defendant’s arrest. Bates was reportedly from White Creek near Cambridge and Eagle Bridge; she was a 2019 Cambridge High School graduate, the school district said in an online remembrance.

Citing the Bates family, Albany NBC affiliate WNYT reported that Hasselwander was the victim’s ex-boyfriend.

A picture shows Morgan Bates.

Morgan Bates.  (Image via the Rensselaer County, N.Y. Sheriff’s Office.)

Court documents obtained Tuesday by Law&Crime after a trip to Troy City Court — Troy being the county seat where the defendant was arraigned — provide a few new alleged details about the killing.

A series of felony complaint documents signed by Investigator Zachary J. Sharpe with the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office say Hasselwander “did intentionally use a ligature type instrument to apply pressure on the throat and neck area” of the victim on Feb. 27, 2022, “at about” 3:05 p.m.

Feb. 27 is the date Bates’s body was found. She was reported missing on Tuesday, Feb. 22, and was reportedly last seen the preceding Sunday, Feb. 20. It is unclear whether the sheriff’s department is simply listing the time and date Bates’s body was discovered as the time of the alleged crimes or whether they believe Hasselwander indeed killed Bates and tried to hide the body on the 27th after she’d been officially missing for five days.

Morgan Bates appears in a photo released by the Cambridge, N.Y. Central School District.

Morgan Bates.  (Image via the Cambridge, N.Y. Central School District.)

The newly released court documents also allege that Hasselwander “secreted” the victim’s “body in a foundation hole within a secluded area of Cherry Plains [sic] State Park and covered it with large wooden logs in an attempt to prevent an examination by law enforcement personnel as part of a criminal investigation.”

The documents further accuse Hasselwander of stabbing Bates “in the neck two times with a sharp instrument. But the documents also say it was the ligature — not the stab wounds — that were fatal; the ligature “result[ed] in death by asphyxiation,” the documents state.

The documents also contain a GPS plot which roughly indicates the location where authorities found the body. The Cherry Plain State Park is a 175-area wooded area containing a lake; it sits in an area where rolling dairy farms and fields meet the Green Mountains and the Berkshires.

A plot point on a Google map shows the GPS coordinates near where the Rensselaer County Sheriff's Department says Morgan Bates's body was found. (Illustration via Law&Crime.)

A plot point on a Google map shows the GPS coordinates near where the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Department says Morgan Bates’s body was found. (Illustration via Law&Crime.)

Funeral services for Bates were held on Saturday.

School officials remembered her fondly.

“Morgan always had a twinkle in her eye and was known for being spunky and having a big heart,” said Cambridge, N.Y. Secondary Principal Caroline Goss in an online post. “As an educator, every student that we work with forever leaves an impression on our hearts. I had the privilege of having Morgan as a student and being her principal. I was proud to see her walk across the stage at graduation and looked forward to seeing her pursue her dreams working with horses. Morgan left a big impact with every educator in the district and she will be greatly missed.”

Morgan Bates’s mother died in January, and WNYT reported that she and her mother will be buried together at a later date.

A file photo shows the Rensselaer County, N.Y. Courthouse on March 7, 2022.  Hasselwander’s case will likely proceed to this facility in downtown Troy after preliminary matters are out of the way in lower local courts.  (Photo by Aaron Keller/Law&Crime.)

William Bates, Morgan’s father, has taken some of his grief to Facebook.

“I wanna say thank you for all the love and support my family and my daughter got,” he wrote on Sunday — one day after the funeral.  “She had a very lovely turn out over 300 people attened [sic] her services.  You people dont [sic] really know how much that really appreciated.  That shows me there is really good people out there.  Once again myself and my family.  Say thank you so much.  For your support.  God bless every single person.”

Earlier, he said his “main thing is now to get justice.”

“I will not give up on that,” William Bates continued. “My daughter didn’t deserve what that. Scum bag did. I hope when this is all done. He gets life in prison without parole. He is one cold hearted person. I pray to God he will rot in hell. I would say he is one sick S.O.B. Now my daughter can rest in peace knowing he is caught and will be dealt with by the. Law. And be put away for a very very long time. So he cant do this to another young lady. God as my witness I will fight for justice. For my daughter Morgan. Now Morgan is with her mom my wife in heave[n]. Now they can. Watch over there [sic] family.”

Morgan’s obituary says she worked at a Stewart’s convenience store in nearby Pownal, Vt., and for area horse stables.

Read the available court documents below:

[Editor’s note: the typography in the quotes from William Bates has been altered as follows: the originals appeared on Facebook using all capital letters.]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.