Wisconsin Man, Father Poisoned Grandma to Keep Her from Selling Farm He Stood to Inherit

Aric Way and Philip G. Schmidt-Way
Aric Way (left) and Philip G. Schmidt-Way. Larimer County Sheriff's Office

A 29-year-old Wisconsin man will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing his grandmother, pairing up with his father to poison the elderly woman in a bid to prevent her from selling a farm he stood to inherit.

Grant County Circuit Court Judge Craig R. Day on Tuesday sentenced Philip G. Schmidt-Way to serve life in prison with the possibility for parole after being convicted of first-degree premeditated murder in the 2021 slaying of Diana Way, authorities announced. Schmidt-Way will be eligible for parole after 20 years.

Philip's father, Aric Way, was similarly convicted of first-degree murder in his mother's death. He was also sentenced last month to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to a news release from the Office of the Wisconsin Attorney General.

Diana was Poisoned with Carbon Monoxide

Police and emergency medical personnel on July 19, 2021, responded to a call regarding an unresponsive woman — later identified as Diana Way — who was found in the bedroom of her home in Dodgeville, about 50 miles west of Madison.

When they arrived at the home, they noticed that the carbon monoxide levels, particularly in the victim's bedroom, were unusually high, though investigators could not find an apparent source for the elevated readings.

An autopsy determined that Diana Way's cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. She had also suffered a recent contusion to her left eye and cheek.

Aric Told Cops He was Upset Over the Potential Sale of the Farm Because He Felt Victim was Being Swindled

A trail camera set up on the victim's driveway showed a truck with distinctive features — including the words "PANTY DROPPER" written across the top of the front windshield — drive up to the victim's home at about 3 a.m. that morning and leave about 2.5 hours later. The day after Diana Way was found dead, Aric Way was dropped off at the police station for an interview in what appeared to be the same truck with the same "PANTY DROPPER" decal on the windshield.

During the interview, Aric "discussed being upset about the sale of Victim's house and farmstead to Victim's friend," police wrote. "Aric Way said he was upset because he felt Victim was being swindled, not because it was his inheritance. Aric Way pointed out that the farm was not his inheritance, as it was intended to be his son's inheritance."

Aric Tried to Get Legal Guardianship by Having Her Declared as Incompetent Before Sale of Farm

Messages between the father and son also showed that Aric had tried to get legal guardianship of his mother by having her declared legally incompetent before she could "sell the family farm for a handful of beans."

Aric also claimed that he had not seen or spoken to his son in some time, as the other man lived in Colorado. However, text messages showed the two communicated throughout Aric's police interview. Immediately after the interview, Aric texted his son to "Stay away," authorities wrote.

Police then traced the truck that dropped Aric Way at the station and found it was registered to Philip. Officers located the vehicle and inside found that Philip on July 12 had purchased a carbon monoxide detector.

Aric Googled How to Make Carbon Monoxide, Then Purchased Ingredients Just Before Victim's Death

Records from Aric Way's Google account showed that he made numerous suspicious searches in the days before his mother's death.

Noting that carbon monoxide can be made by combining sulfuric acid, which is commonly found in drain cleaning supplies, with formic acid, which is commonly found in beekeeping chemicals, police said Aric performed multiple searches for beekeeping supplies and drain cleaners with "the most sulfuric acid," as well as whether carbon monoxide can "make you hallucinate."

It was then confirmed that Aric had purchased the drain cleaner and beekeeping chemicals just before his mother's death and that he and Philip were at the victim's home from about 3 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. on the day she was found dead.