October 14, 1983 – Madison, WI
Richard Wheeler was upset over paying child support to his ex wife, Carolyn Hudson, and hired
someone to kill her. He had telephoned her four months earlier after receiving legal papers asking
about his ability to pay more child support. “You're going to be shot” then hung up the phone.
Early in the morning Joseph Hecht broke into Hudson’s Vondron Road home and shot her to death in
front of her three children. Her 14-year-old daughter Jacqueline chased him out the door and wrote
down the license number. Later that day he was arrested in Milwaukee, he admitted to being a
contract killer but refused to tell police who had hired him.
Telephone records revealed a web of phone calls back and forth from Hecht to another man James
Stomner, and from Stomner to Wheeler. Stomner turned down a deal by prosecutors that would have
dropped all charges against him. In the end he received the same life sentence Wheeler got.
After the murder of her mother and conviction of her father, the daughter went to live with an
uncle in Baraboo, where she finished high school. She attended UW-Madison and went to law school at
Marquette. She traces her decision to go to law school to her admiration for Steve Bablitch, then
a Dane County assistant district attorney and the lead prosecutor in the case. “He was my hero,”
She said. Asked if the memories of that terrible day in 1983 had stayed with her. “Oh, yes,” she
said. “I still remember that license plate number, G-U-2-5-6-2.”
Hudson’s current husband, Jim, was a Madison Police officer on duty that morning. He was on his
way to another call when news of the shooting came over the air. He went to their home but was kept
from entering by another officer. Jim never got over the event. He resigned from the force in 1988.
In 1989, depressed and drinking too much, he got into an armed standoff with his former colleagues
and was taken into custody outside his home. Jim died of cancer in 2009.
– Ex Husband – Convicted of being party to a murder. Life sentence, he was paroled in
– Hired Killer - Sentenced to life in prison plus 15 years after pleading
guilty to first-degree murder. Briefly escaped during a 1985 University Hospital visit, he was
apprehended on Glenway Golf Course. Eligible to apply for parole in February 2010
– Middle Man – Convicted of being party to a murder. Life sentence, he was
paroled in 2000.
Jacqueline Wheeler (14)