Diane Borchardt of Jefferson Wisconsin would do anything to escape her failing marriage. But when bitterness turns into divorce papers she turns to her high-school students to help her eliminate her cheating husband.
An Easter massacre.
On April 3rd, 1994, around 4am a 911 dispatcher receives a call from a 16-year-old saying that his father has just been shot inside the home. Ruben Borchardt, 40 father of three and a self-employed cabinet maker, struggles to recover and dies on Easter Sunday a few hours after the dispatch call. Police find that Borchardt was shot twice in the chest with a .410 shotgun.
“A stormy relationship."
Ruben Borchardt was a doting Christian father who worked as a cabinetmaker and a silk-screen printer. Looking at several photos of Borchardt, one can see an outdoors-man possessing a do-it-yourself attitude with the love for nature. In February 1979 Ruben lost his first wife and mother of his small daughter and son in a traffic accident close to the home the family shared. Distraught and heart-broken, Ruben returns to work one month later and coworkers notice that he is suffering. Ruben finds comfort in a co-worker and the secretary for the company Diane and marries her a few months later. Diane Borchardt would later tell the television show American Criminal that she never felt a physical attraction towards Ruben, only a calling to help comfort him and his now motherless children. Known around town as “Mrs. B”, Diane also worked as a teacher's assistant and a high school monitor on top of owning her own shirt printing business, Mrs. B Sport-Screen. The unfortunate marriage only lasted a short while, and the newlyweds drifted apart. Family and friends of Ruben’s would later claim that Diane was “cold, controlling, and vindictive.” Diane’s stepson and daughter claim that she was “too faced” and abusive to them, sparing her biological daughter Regan. They would also claim that the marriage was “filled with arguments." The stepdaughter Brook would later say that the marriage deteriorated in March after her father filed the divorce papers.
A motive for murder.
Ruben Borchardt could feel his relationship fall apart and although it was his values and religious views that kept him faithful, he soon gave in to temptation. Judy Frantz was the wife to Jefferson City Manager Karl Frantz at the time she met Ruben. She needed custom-installed cabinets and started forming an attraction with the installer. Ruben told Judy about his marriage woes and Judy reciprocated with her own failing marriage story. The two formed a romantic interest that soon became public knowledge around the town of Jefferson. Before the affair started one friend of Diane’s testified in court that in 1991 she told her how much she hated her husband and wished he would find someone else; but if he did, she “would hire a hitman to kill him.” The separating couple fought over custody of the children and ownership of the family home. Ruben built the home on Bear Hold Road and sat on 20 acres of wilderness. Ruben had told Diane that once the divorce was final, he planned to move his mistress in the home and move out his ex-wife. They completed the divorce on March 24th, 1994 granting custody to the father, the home to the father, and assets valued at 300 thousand dollars. They ordered Diane out by April 15th, 1994.
Hard on the lips.
Judy Frantz would later testify that Ruben told him a day before his murder that Diane “was up to something” because of her sudden urge to go out of town during Easter Sunday. Ruben also kept mayonnaise jars filled with loose change by his bedside because he feared that Diane “may try to Bobbitt him.” Diane would also show up unannounced at Judy’s front door hoping to start a confrontation with her. In February 1994 Diane killed Ruben “hard on the lips” and whispered in his ear, “you’re dead”, similar to how a Mafia Don would administer a “kiss of death.”
Study hall hitmen.
Although Diane Borchardt still claims her innocence about her involvement in the murder, detectives find out she had recruited 3 high-schoolers as hitman. According to testimony from the 3 teenage boys and court documentation, Borchardt would give sob stories in front of her students during study hall. She would claim that her husband Ruben had been beating her and how she “lost everything” because of his infidelity. With a small $600 dollar payment up front and the promise of 20 thousand dollars after completion she convinced teens Doug Vest, his 15-year-old cousin Michael Maldonado, and class peer Josh Yanke to carry out the murder. Whilst Michael Maldonado was the triggerman, all parties faced justice. Josh Yanke, the one least involved in the actual killing of Ruben Borchardt, pleaded no contest and with his commitment to work with the State of Wisconsin received just over 10 years for his part. Doug Vest was offered a plea deal and a light sentence of 13 years, but turned down the offer and was sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of parole after 25 years. Michael Maldonado claimed he was home asleep during the murder, however the jury did not believe his alibi; they sentenced him to life with the possibility of parole in 50 years. As for Diane Borchardt who still claims she was the innocent party was charged with first degree intentional homicide and received life in prison on August 1st 1995.
Wisconsin State Journal Madison, Wisconsin