The media spotlight first shone on former WCU student Derek Anderson after his father, mother, brother, and cocker spaniel mysteriously disappeared after leaving their home in Helenville, WI, for a fishing trip to a family cabin.
Six days later, Anderson, who legally changed his name from Andrew Krnak, reported his family missing.
The remains of his father were found on a creek bank off Moses Creek Road in December 1999. They were not identified until February 1 after a FBI agent in Washington, DC, encountered a law enforcement bulletin from North Carolina.
The remains of Anderson’s mother and brother are still missing. Krnak family members have offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the bodies or on the death and disappearance of the family.
Anderson frequently asked strangers if they knew him, and said he was certain that his family was dead, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s review of Anderson’s state probation file.
Since the disappearance of his father, Allen Krnak, 55, his mother, Donna, 52, and his brother, Thomas, 21, Anderson has repeatedly denied involvement.
But investigators are puzzled by the bizarre behavior he exhibited leading to his arrest on February 2.
Anderson continuously bragged about being contacted by the tabloid TV show “Extra” in the month after his family disappeared, according to his probation file.
The file also showed that he contacted “Unsolved Mysteries,” but the show’s producers told him they wouldn’t take his story for three months.
Soon after his family’s disappearance, three female students at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where Anderson attended, went to police because they were scared by his behavior, the probation file said.
The women were disturbed that Anderson bragged about money he would receive if his family were declared dead, a newspaper reported.
“I am not so concerned about my parents, but I missed the dog,” he reportedly told one of the women.
WCU psychology professor Robin Kowalski worked with Anderson on an independent study, and said he gave no indication whatsoever that something like this would ever happen.
“Except for being bright, he was like any other student,” said Kowalski.
Biology professor Roger Lumb said Anderson was a pretty good student, but he left in early November of 1996.
“I didn’t know the reason he left, but I guess now we know,” said Lumb.
Anderson is in a Milwaukee County jail on a murder warrant. An extradition hearing is scheduled for March 2 in Milwaukee.
Anderson is fighting extradition to North Carolina. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at (828) 586-4480.