In 2012, Sheboygan Falls in Sheboygan City, Wisconsin, was shocked by the brutal murder of 78-year-old great grandmother, Barbara Olson, who was hacked and bludgeoned to death with a hatchet and hammer. Even more damning was the discovery of who the murder was perpetrated by – Barbara’s very own 13-year-old great grandson and his best friend. It was a crime that shocked the nation. If you’re not safe in your own home with your own great-grandson then where are you safe? “Did these kids grow up here? Did they grow up here in Sheboygan?” asked Sheboygan County District, Joe DeCecco, when he was informed of the heinous murder. Sheboygan County is an idyllic area and first-degree murder is extremely rare - in fact, on average once a year. Antonio Barbeau and Nathan Paape looked like your average all-American boys from Sheboygan Falls, so what led them to kill Antonio’s great grandmother with such savagery?
On that fateful afternoon of September 17th, 2012, Antonio and Nathan went to Barbara’s home on the tree-lined streets of Westwynde Bluffs. After inviting the teenagers inside her home, she was brutally attacked by the duo, whom had brought along their weapons of choice: a hatchet and hammer. Following the heinous attack, the two boys attempted to drag her blood-soaked body to the car which was parked in the garage. Realising that this wasn’t as easy feat, they decided to just ditch Barbara’s body in the garage, with a trail of blood leading from inside the home. A mere $155 was all they were able to steal from Barbara, as well as several pieces of jewellery. After they stuffed the pitiful bounty into their pockets, they grabbed Barbara’s car keys and dumped her unlocked car at a nearby Sheboygan bowling alley. Inside the car, they abandoned the few pieces of jewellery that they had ransacked from the home in the hopes that somebody would steal the unlocked vehicle and then be implemented in her murder. So what would two teenagers do with a pitiful $155, stolen from the elderly lady they just slaughtered? They brought marijuana and pizza.
Two days later, Barbara’s body was discovered by her distraught daughter. She initially believed that her mother must have had an accident but this was no accident, as she was soon to find out. Within 12 hours, Nathan and Antonio would be apprehended for her murder after bloody clothes and shoes were discovered in Antonio’s locker. It was announced that the two teenagers would be being charged as adults with first-degree murder. In January of 2013, Antonio entered a plea of not guilty by mental disease or defect. Two weeks later, Nathan also entered a plea of not guilty. As the trial date loomed, Antonio changed his plea to no contest as part of a deal with the state which would see him eligible for parole in 35 years. He was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide. Now, only Nathan would be facing a court of law.
During the trial, Nathan’s defence argued that Nathan was just a bystander. Antionio, however, had a different version of events when it was his turn on the witness stand. While he admitted that he had attacked Barbara with the hatchet, he contended that Nathan wasn’t as innocent in the ordeal as his defence attorney was claiming. Nathan came to Barbara’s home armed with a hammer and with that weapon, he bludgeoned the elderly great-grandmother. He also testified that Nathan was just as compliant in the planning of the murder. When Nathan took to the witness stand, he confessed that he did hit Barbara with the hammer, adding that he only hit her twice and only did so because he was afraid that Antonio would turn on him. He also described how Antonio had a “blank, no emotions” look on his face as he repeatedly bludgeoned his great-grandmother. At one point during the murder, Antonio took off his sweatshirt so that it wouldn’t get in the way of “him swinging,” Nathan told the aghast court room. Fond du Lac County Medical Examiner, Doug Kelley, testified that Barbara had been struck at least 27 times with both sharp and blunt objects. This was the evidence that Nathan, armed with a hammer, certainly had participated in the murder. The entire court room fell dead silent as the gruesome photos of Barbara’s body flashed on screen. Deep wounds to her head, face, arms and hands were enough to make even the most hardened law officials look away. The wounds on her arms and hands were indicative of defensive wounds, meaning that the elderly great-grandmother had attempted to defend herself against the blows. She wasn’ t knocked unconscious by the initial blow meaning she knew very well that it was her own flesh and blood ending her life.
After just mere hours of deliberation, they found Nathan guilty of being party to first-degree intentional murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment with a minimum of 31 years. Antonio Barbeau had already been convicted of first-degree intentional homicide and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 35 years. When Nathan is 49-years-old, he will have a chance of parole and when Antonio is 49-years-old, he will have a chance of parole. Both murders will get a second chance at life – something they denied Barbara Olson as she begged the young boy that she helped raise from birth, for her life.