LE CENTER — A rural Le Center man accused of murdering his father has been found incompetent to stand trial.

Hardy Robert Wills-Traxler, 26, will stay in the Le Sueur County Jail pending civil commitment proceedings and then transfer to a state mental health facility.

Wills-Traxler is accused of fatally stabbing his father, Bruce Alan Traxler, 64, and then setting fire to their residence outside of Le Center in January.

He was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree arson. The criminal case was suspended during a review hearing Friday in Le Sueur County District Court

A state forensic examiner found Wills-Traxler incompetent to participate in his defense. Prosecutor Daniel Vlieger of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and Assistant Public Defender Richard Ohlenberg told Judge Patrick Biren they did not object to the finding.

When Biren asked Wills-Traxler if he understood what was happening Friday, the defendant responded: “Yep.”

The criminal case is now suspended indefinitely and Wills-Traxler is being referred to civil commitment court.

A review hearing in the criminal case is scheduled for October.

A relative who lived next door to Wills-Traxler and his father called 911 after finding the residence adjacent to Traxler’s Hunting Preserve on fire on Jan. 23. The relative told first responders Wills-Traxler wasn’t getting along with his father and he suspected “Hardy did something,” court documents say.

Wills-Traxler drove away from the fire and twice confessed to strangers before he was captured, the charges said.

He reportedly stopped a snowplow driver in Mankato and told him he killed his father. A few hours later a group of snowmobilers in Watonwan County reported Wills-Traxler drove up to them. He reportedly had a knife, made a reference to the Bible and told them he killed his father.

He was stopped driving near the junction of Highways 169 and 60 and taken into custody without incident.

Wills-Traxler allegedly told investigators he stabbed his father “a bunch of different times.” He said his father stared at him, they argued and his father hit him in the shoulder.

He reportedly said he washed the blood off his hands, gathered some of his belongings, placed a pillow on a stove burner to start the fire and left.

He told investigators he was sorry but he “had to get out of there” to get on with his life, the charges said.

An autopsy found that Bruce Traxler died from blood loss from multiple wounds that struck multiple organs.

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