What Was Nathan And Michelle Paet's Family Life Like Before He Was Murdered?

On December 1, 2010, father of four and staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, Nathan Paet, was heading out from home to his night shift at Nellis Air Base in Las Vegas. Nathan had previously served in Iraq, and when he got posted to Nellis as an F-15 supply technician with the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (via the Air Force Times), he and his wife Michelle packed up and moved to Las Vegas. There, as Cinemaholic explains, while Michelle worked as a telemarketer, Nathan decided to pick up some extra shifts to support his and Michelle's family. While it's easy to imagine the financial pressures and household strain that Michelle and Nathan had to endure, especially as two working parents with four children, no one from the outside could have foreseen exactly how far things would go. 

On the night in question, Nathan was standing in his garage waiting for the garage door to finish opening. When the door got high enough, someone opened fire. Five bullet wounds later, Nathan stumbled back into his house and collapsed in front of his children. He later died in a hospital. As Nevada courts ruled in 2016, per an Associated Press report posted at 3 News, Michelle conspired to have her husband murdered. She'd started having an affair with a co-worker, Michael Rodriguez, who along with hired hitman Corry Hawkins assaulted and killed Nathan. The goal? Apparently, they wanted to collect $650,000 in insurance money from Nathan's death. And now, Michelle is serving a life sentence without parole.

A high school romance turned tragic

While we don't have precise details about the ins and outs of Nathan and Michelle's home life before his murder, we can infer some reasonable things based on available evidence. We know, for instance, that Nathan and Michelle practically grew up together in Guam. As Daily Mail explains, they were high school sweethearts who got married in 2006, four years after Nathan joined the Air Force in 2002. At the time of Nathan's death in 2010, both he and Michelle were 28. 

This means that Nathan and Michelle got married fairly young, at around 24, and had been together the entire time before then, since high school. It's safe to assume that familiarity and comfort had settled into their home, which might have sadly contributed to the type of discontent that led Michelle not only to an affair, but Nathan's murder. This is especially true given the complexities and stressors of multiple jobs, double-shifts for Nathan, raising four children, scheduling their household, paying bills, etc., with no guarantees that either Nathan or Michelle had wanted to move to Las Vegas to begin with. All in all, it's not too difficult to see how their relationship might have been strained.

And yet, Nathan was described as a "great father" by those who knew him (on Facebook). Even after his death, his children demonstrated a kind of loyalty to him, and fear of their mother, by not wanting anything to do with Michelle (via 3 News).

Life without parole for all guilty parties

All three individuals involved in Nathan's murder — wife Michelle Paet, lover Michael Rodriguez, and actual gunman Corry Hawkins — agreed to serve life in prison without parole, at least if only to avoid the death penalty (via Review Journal and 3 News). During the trial's final arguments, Michelle's defense attorney, Kristina Widefield, sought some kind of clemency for Michelle by stating that Michelle hadn't known that Rodriguez was going to murder Nathan on that particular night, December 1. Prosecutor Michelle Fleck merely said, "Lonely, bored wife syndrome is not a defense to murder." 

While we can never have true insight into exactly what transpired between Michelle and Nathan in the years and months leading up to Nathan's murder, Michelle expressed tremendous remorse during the trial. She wept profusely and said to Nathan's family, "I made a huge mistake and a really bad choice and I'm truly sorry," as well as, "I love you guys and I love my kids, and I hope that this is closure for you" (via Mirror). Sister-in-law Veronica Paet replied, "I don't hate you. I just don't believe you ever deserve to see a free day ever again for what you have done to my family" (via 3 News).

Nathan and Michelle's full story is part of the "Dateline: The Last Day" series currently streaming on Peacock TV. "The Case of Nathan Paet" is episode 2, which premiered on June 15.