MILWAUKEE — Two 13-year-old Wisconsin boys were ordered held on $1 million bond Friday after being accused of using a hatchet and hammer to kill one boy’s great-grandmother while stealing jewelry and a car from her home.
Prosecutors allege that the boys, both charged as adults, went to 78-year-old Barbara J. Olson’s home on Monday with the intent to rob and kill her. Authorities said her body was discovered in the garage, in a pool of blood, two days later by her daughter.
The boys appeared in Sheboygan County court Friday, where they’re charged with being party to the crime of first-degree intentional homicide.
According to a criminal complaint, the teens told investigators that after they fatally beat Olson in her home in Sheboygan Falls, about 50 miles north of Milwaukee, they grabbed jewelry and loose change before stealing her car and driving to get pizza.
George Limbeck, the great-grandson’s attorney, said the boy had a “good relationship” with Olson. “That relationship will come into play in future court proceedings,” he said, declining to elaborate but adding that the entire family is distraught.
Limbeck said he will try to have the case heard in juvenile court. A conviction in adult court carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, but if the boys were convicted as juveniles, they could only be incarcerated until they turned 25.
Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco said he would oppose moving the case to juvenile court, arguing that the severity of the boys’ actions demands that they be prosecuted as adults.
“Look at their actions as alleged in their own statements. They planned this whole thing,” DeCecco said. “If they just wanted to rob her, why didn’t they wait until she wasn’t home, instead of killing her first?”
A message left with the other boy’s public defender was not immediately returned.
The idea to rob and kill Olson came from her great-grandson, the other boy told authorities. He said the great-grandson armed himself with a hatchet and the friend got a hammer, and both boys concealed the weapons under their clothes as the friend’s mother drove them to Olson’s home, according to the criminal complaint.
The boys entered Olson’s garage through an unlocked side door. When they encountered Olson, she told her great-grandson she was going to call his mother. As she turned away, her great-grandson allegedly hit her in the head with the blunt end of the hatchet, according to the complaint.
She crumpled to the ground, and he continued to bludgeon her as she tried to cover her head and pleaded for them to stop, the complaint said. The friend said he added two blows with the hammer.
The great-grandson then swung the hatchet blade-first, and it lodged so deeply into Olson’s skull that it took the strength of both boys to pry it loose, the friend told investigators. The boys then tried to carry her body to her car but gave up, leaving her in the garage, the complaint said.
Prosecutors allege the boys then rifled through Olson’s home, taking a purse, jewelry and money. They stole her car, ditched it in the parking lot of a bowling alley and walked to a pizza parlor, the complaint said.
Police found the car unlocked with the keys in the ignition and a bag of jewelry visible on the back seat. The friend told detectives the boys hoped someone would steal the car and get blamed for the woman’s death.
The boys bought cleaning wipes and came back to wipe down the car, prosecutors said. The hatchet and hammer were found in the trunk.
Police found a piece of schoolwork in the car that had the friend’s name on it. They also found Olson’s purse in a storm drain near the friend’s house, in the approximate area where he told them he discarded it.
Officers then executed a search warrant on the great-grandson’s locker at a juvenile detention center where he’d been placed Tuesday for unrelated reasons. Authorities said they seized clothes and apparent blood-spattered shoes.
The great-grandson initially denied knowledge of Olson’s death but eventually laid out a confession for investigators similar to his friend’s, according to the criminal complaint.