Harry Hebard: Teenage Killer

As a young man, Jack Hebard worked as a daredevil named Lucky O’Hara. He would crash cars and get fired from a cannon. His most famous trick was lying inside a coffin that was surrounded by exploding dynamite.

Jack later told Green Bay reporter Charles House, “When I was a kid, I kind of hooked up with a daredevil outfit, and I changed my name to Lucky O’Hara because I didn’t want my mother to read that her son was in that kind of dangerous business. I always told her I worked as a mechanic… I always loved the feeling of seeming to be reckless, and I like the excitement and the travel and I like the crowds, too.” Some later reports called Jack a “movie stunt man,” but I have yet to find anything corroborating this.

Jack married Blanche in Winona, Minnesota on December 22, 1945. They had one child, Harry Hebard, who would later go by the nickname Butch.

On March 4, 1948, Jack was arrested with Viola Johnson Doe for lewd and lascivious behavior. They were released on $150 bond each.

Jack was divorced from his first wife Blanche in May 1948 and custody of his young son Harry went to the mother. Jack had to pay $50 each month in alimony and child support. It’s not clear to me if they were already separated at the time of the Viola Doe incident.

Allegedly, Blanche’s treatment of Harry was very poor and Jack fought to get placement of his son. When he finally succeeded, Harry arrived malnourished, dirty and was a chronic bedwetter, a problem he’d have for several years. Harry developed some unusual behaviors – he preferred to defecate in a bushel basket in a nearby woods than in his own house, and on one occasion he was suspected of shooting his own dog for fun. The dog survived.

Around 1950, Jack was convicted of assaulting a woman and spent some time in prison.

In 1957, Jack went from a full-time daredevil to part-time and took up employment at North Central Airlines, based out of Austin Strobel Airport.

In 1960, the population of Green Bay was around 63,000. The Packers were a popular team and the city’s claim to fame, though the first Super Bowl wouldn’t be until January 1967. Jack Hebard married widow Joyce Tress Rudell and took in her three children, John, and twins Judy and Janice. The family lived in a rural part of town at 2626 Hazelwood Lane, allowing the girls to ride their horse Shorty and practice their Girl Scout lessons.

Teenage Harry Raymond “Butch” Hebard, the oldest child, kept to himself as far as conversation, but was active in neighborhood football and baseball games. Harry also golfed, pole vaulted and liked to ride his stunt bike on a course he made. He was a student at Green Bay West High School.

Jack Hebard was widely believed to be a violent man. Joyce often had bruises, and it was assumed Jack put them there. Dennis Carman, best friend of John Rudell, said, “He had an intimidating personality. He never smiled. He wasn’t vocal to anyone in the house, he was just there.” One neighbor said Jack abused Harry “like hell.” On one occasion, Harry broke his arm but Jack refused to take him to the doctor. Joyce told her parents she was going to leave Jack and take her kids.

In January 1963, Harry, John and mutual friend Norbert Hansen were involved in a cigarette stealing incident. As a result of this incident, poor grades in school, difficulty in getting along with his stepbrother, and indications he was considering running away from home, Harry was taken to a local psychologist, Dr. Thomas Grib, whose opinion was Harry suffered from a personality disturbance, but was not psychotic. An appointment for a subsequent visit was made.

On February 15, 1963, Harry attempted to purchase a pistol, but was told he was too young to do so. On February 17, Harry went hunting, using one of his father’s automatic rifles.

On February 18, Harry attended school in the morning, but was absent in the afternoon. At noon he telephoned Norbert Hansen, 19 (involved with him in the stealing incident) to pick him up at 5:30pm at a spot two blocks from the Hebard home. Mid-afternoon, Harry made his move.

Jack, 37, was resting on the couch for a pre-dinner nap, as he usually did. A bullet went in his head, and then two more in his body. Harry stood over him, carrying his father’s handgun and rifle. John, 15, was shot in the back, but was not taken down immediately. Three more shots followed, with at least one in his head. Judy, 11, was shot twice in the head, and then Harry was out of bullets. He switched to the rifle. Janice, also 11, hiding under the table, only needed one shot in the head. At approximately 5:30pm, Joyce, 35, arrived home from the dentist. She was observed by a neighbor as she arrived. The father, Jack, and the Rudell children, John, Judith and Janice, were in the home dead. Before she had time to process this, a rifle shot took her down.

Norbert Hansen met Harry at the appointed place at about 5:45pm. Harry was carrying a bundle of bloody clothes and stated he was leaving home. This was not surprising, as he had talked about running away in the past. Subsequently, Harry buried the bundle in the snow. The friends had supper at Norbert’s house and then Harry spent the night at John Pinta’s farm on Highway 32 in Oconto County, a few miles north of Pulaski.

At approximately 6:00pm a telephone call was made to the Hebard home. No one answered.

On February 19, when Jack failed to arrive at work (his shift was 5:30am to 2:00pm), a coworker and neighbor, Darold Francis Aebischer (1927-2017), asked his wife to telephone the Hebard home. The lights were on and dogs were barking, but there was no answer. Aebischer telephoned the police. When they arrived around 6:25am, the police observed through the window what appeared to be bodies on the floor. Detectives Alfred Dale Herfort (1915-1982) and Robert Basche entered the house and discovered the bodies. All of the victims had died at approximately the same time.

Strangely, Jack Hebard’s penis was outside of his pants. A neighbor said this was not unusual, and anyone walking past the house could look in and seeing Jack resting on the couch this way. When police questioned other neighbors, they said Jack was rumored to be sexually assaulting his stepdaughters and would peek in neighbor’s bedroom windows. But it never went beyond rumors.

Detective Norman Daniels took over and his first order of business was to put out a statewide search for Harry Hebard. Harry was immediately suspected of being the killer rather than a victim, especially after Daniels found a note in a pair of jeans suggesting where Harry might have gone. Brown County Sheriff’s Department lieutenant Richard Schrickel was sent to Pulaski. Cleverly, he had Harry’s friend Norbert Hansen drive to the Pulaski house while he (the officer) hid in the back seat. When Harry came out to greet Norbert, the officer placed him under arrest. The police had tear gas cannisters prepared just in case, but nothing like that was needed.

Harry was taken into police custody and questioned about the killings. A search of his school locker revealed two different murder plans written out in a notebook. They included what gear he would need during and after, as well as how to clean up and slow down people looking for him. The plan was not entirely realistic – his end goal was to enroll at Pulaski High School under a fake name until everyone accepted his new identity. Even if this was possible without some sort of adult support, authorities would surely find him if he was hiding only one county away (anyone in Pulaski reading the Green Bay newspaper would recognize his photo).

The newspaper interviewed Rev. David Thompson of St. John’s Lutheran in Aswaubenon. “He was a good, quiet boy. Real active in church. He attended church regularly and was well-liked.” Harry was actually the only churchgoer in his family – he went alone each week.

Harry was interviewed by the district attorney. He denied committing the killings, then confessed to them. The police obtained the bundle buried by the defendant in the snow. It contained bloodstained clothing, and a nine-shot, .22 caliber revolver. (Expert testimony at the trial identified the revolver as one of the weapons used in the killings.) Harry was charged with four counts of first-degree murder. The district attorney held back one charge just in case Harry was acquitted at trial.

The Hebard-Rudell family had a funeral plot in Mosinee, Wisconsin, meaning there was quite an entourage of hearses and other cars from Green Bay to central Wisconsin for the funeral. Relative Jean Crooks (said to be Harry’s cousin) said it was the longest motorcade she ever saw, which is no doubt true. Amazingly, Harry was given permission to attend the funeral, but he declined.

Early news coverage was slow. Although many considered it the worst crime in Green Bay’s history, and reporters drove from as far away as Milwaukee to cover it, the police had put a firm order to various people – even assistant principal Lars Thune! — not to talk about Harry. The press instead ran a story on how they couldn’t cover the story.

Subsequent to Harry’s arrest, he was examined by two court-appointed psychiatrists from February 28 through March 4. The shrinks were Dr. Denton Engstrom of Appleton and Dr. Edward Houfek of Sheboygan. They believed a root cause of the violence was “feelings of rejection and rivalry.” Following their report to Judge James Byers, Harry was adjudged insane, unable to stand trial and committed to Central State Hospital at Waupun. In August 1967, the Brown County court was informed that Harry was capable of standing trial.

On December 28, 1967, Harry was charged with the first-degree murder of Jack Hebard, Joyce Hebard, John Rudell, Judith Rudell and Janice Rudell. He entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. On the insanity plea, Harry requested a sequential trial, electing to proceed under the American Law Institute test of insanity, assuming the burden of proof as to such test.

On May 1, 1968, Judge Donald Gleason ruled statements made by Harry to police in 1963 could not be used at trial. Gleason was “not pleased,” but had to follow guidance from the Supreme Court. Specifically, the famous Miranda case – although “Miranda warnings” were not a thing in 1963, the court ruled they were required for all trials after June 13, 1966. Because of the five year delay, Harry had an extra layer of protection. His 1963 statements were voluntary, but had no attorney guidance. (Not covered by Miranda, but also being 16 should suggest a need for an advocate.)

Prior to trial, Harry filed a motion for change of venue on the basis of existing community prejudice. The motion was denied. The trial would be in Brown County before Judge Robert Gollmar, a man who had caught headlines for being the judge in the Ed Gein trial.

On September 20, 1968, the jury found Harry guilty as charged. On September 27, the jury found Harry not insane at the time of the crimes. Defense motions were made and denied. Judgment was entered and Harry was sentenced to concurrent terms of life imprisonment on each charge around October 4.

As of 2023, Harry is still in prison. He now refers to himself as “Hawk,” and grew a ponytail. He claimed he had embraced his native ancestry (which may or may not be true). He had no behavior or adjustment problems in prison, and held many jobs and was even considered a candidate for minimum security. A few conduct reports say he had been involved in fights, but that’s not unusual for prison. No violations of drug, alcohol or sexual behavior are on his record.

Because his sentence was concurrent rather than consecutive, Harry has been eligible for parole and has appeared before the parole board many times. Most inmates with such a good behavior record would be released after serving 60 years, but each time the answer is the same – five murders is just too many to forgive.

The murder house remained standing on Hazelwood Lane. For a while, real estate agent Jan Melberg lived there and had no complaints. She sold the house to Mike and Susan Schuster, who lived there 1994-2003. Susan believed the house was haunted, sometimes hearing a radio play. She said the ghost never frightened her and she would tell it, “I don’t mind you’re still here.”

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