Man Found in Wisconsin Woods Identified, Mother and Son Charged With Aiding and Abetting His Murder

Austin James Herbst (left) and his mother, Connie Lou Herbst (right)
Scott County

Gary Albert Herbst is dead and his teenage son, Austin James Herbst and wife, 62-year-old Connie Lou Herbst are charged with aiding and abetting his murder.

The wife and son of a man who was reported missing from his Minnesota home seven years ago are now charged with aiding and abetting his murder, according to reports. Gary Albert Herbst was 57-years-old at the time his teenage son, Austin James Herbst allegedly pulled the trigger on him in 2013, according to Southwest News.

Police said Austin allegedly admitted that when he was 19, he shot his father, claiming that it was in defense against his father, who physically and emotionally abused his mother, 62-year-old Connie Lou Herbst, and occasionally him, according to court documents cited by the outlet.

Gary Herbst was killed seven years ago on July 6 at his home in Elko New Market, according to charging documents.

His dead body remained in the home for several weeks before Connie and Austin allegedly disposed of his body in the western area of Barron County in Wisconsin.

Gary Herbst's remains were found years later in December 2017 in a rural area of Wisconsin where a dog found his skull and dropped it off in its owner's driveway, the criminal complaint said. The Midwest Medical Examiner determined his cause of death from a gunshot wound.

He was not unidentified until February of this year when detectives received help from the DNA Doe Project, a non-profit that helps identify "John and Jane Does," according to the outlet.

The investigation unraveled, and detectives learned that Gary Herbst had been missing since 2013 –– but a police report wasn't filed until a year later, when one of his sons, who is unrelated to the case, was trying to contact his father, the outlet reported. 

Connie Herbst in February of this year alleged that her husband left that July day and never returned, according to the outlet. She claimed that day she was at the library and when returning home that day found the bedroom ransacked and several of his belongings missing including $5,000 cash and a .45 caliber pistol, the outlet reported.

On June 16, Wisconsin officers questioned both Connie and Austin Herbst again. Austin reportedly admitted he did not have a good relationship with his father. He claimed that he and his mother went camping the weekend his father went missing, according to the outlet. Austin said he knew what happened to his father but would not elaborate, the outlet reported.

Upon searching the home later that month, which currently belongs to new owners, where the alleged murder took place, investigators found indications of human decomposition and evidence of blood in the basement and garage, the outlet reported.  

Neighbors reportedly told detectives during that same visit, that they remember the mother and son rolling up what appeared to be a carpet into the back of a pickup truck in 2013 and leave for 1-3 days, the outlet reported.

The pair had allegedly held a garage sale selling mostly men's clothing and various tools a few weeks later, neighbors told police.

Both were arrested Thursday and could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted. They are both charged in the Scott County District Court with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.