Man pleads guilty, admits he killed father in 2013 and dumped his body in Wisconsin

Austin Herbst and his mother were both charged in connection to Gary Herbst's death seven years after he was killed.
Author:
Publish date:

A 26-year-old New Prague man has pleaded guilty to fatally shooting his dad in 2013 and then dumping his body, with the help of his mom, in a Wisconsin woods. 

Austin Herbst pleaded guilty in Scott County District Court to aiding and abetting second-degree intentional murder in the death of his father, 63-year-old Gary Herbst, court documents show

Austin Herbst admitted last year to killing his father, saying his father was abusive and that pushed him to do it, the Star Tribune reports. His mother, Connie Herbst, learned of Gary Herbst's death after it happened. 

Connie Herbst

Connie Herbst

Gary Herbst went missing in 2013 and his remains were discovered in rural Barron County, Wisconsin, in December 2017, after a dog brought home and was found chewing on a human skull.

His remains were identified in June 2020 with the help of the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the DNA Doe Project. At the time, the Barron County Sheriff's Office said the skull had a bullet hole in it, and they were investigating it as a homicide.

Austin and Connie Herbst were eventually charged in November 2020 with one count each of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

The Scott County Attorney's Office said in January the Herbsts didn't report Gary Herbst missing for several months, adding "evidence of human decomposition and bloodstains on the wall and floor in the basement" of their Elko New Market home, where they lived.

The criminal complaint said Connie Herbst, now 62 and living in New Prague, told police in July 2014 her husband came home, packed a bag, took $5,000 in cash and left without his cellphone on July 6, 2013. She made the missing persons report at the suggestion of Gary Herbst's brother who was trying to contact him.

She and Austin Herbst said they hadn't seen him since, both telling police Gary Herbst was verbally and physically abusive, charges state. 

This past June, police confronted Connie Herbst about a title for Gary's 2003 Chevy Impala, which had been sold in Wisconsin in 2017 – four years after he went missing – with Gary's signature on the new title. She claimed Gary routinely pre-signed his vehicle titles, also pre-dating them, the complaint says. 

During the investigation, officers interviewed their neighbors in Elko New Market, who described Gary Herbst as a difficult neighbor. One person recalled the date of Aug. 30, 2013, when the Herbsts held a garage sale and were selling tools and men's clothing. The interviewee then recalled that sometime before the garage sale they saw a black truck backed up to the sliding glass door on the grass at the Herbst home, something they had never seen before.

The witness then told investigators that Connie and Austin were "loading something in the back of the pickup, possibly rolled up carpeting," the charging document says. They then left with a boat hooked the back of the truck and were gone 1-3 days. After that, the interviewee never saw Gary again. 

Another neighbor told a similar story, adding that they saw Austin and Connie scrubbing the basement floor.

A few months later, the Herbst sold their Elko New Market home. And the new owners in June 2020 allowed investigators to search their home, noting in 2019 when they remodeled the basement they "discovered a stain on the concrete floor that seemed unusual." It was found to be from human blood, and a cadaver dog indicated the presence of human decomposition in the basement. 

Meanwhile, Gary's coworker told police he stopped showing up for work after July 8, 2013.

Austin Herbst's sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 4. Connie Herbst is due back in court on April 27. They're both still in custody at the Scott County Jail.

Next Up

sunfish 1

Gallery: Aspen-inspired estate on private lake is yours for $4.95M

Each bedroom has its own bathroom. And there are four laundry rooms.

Flickr - Halloween costumes masks shops - Chuck Falzone

Struggling for staff, Mankato Halloween business will put out-of-town workers up in hotels

The business is trying to attract workers from as far away as Iowa and Wisconsin.

Flickr - Mall of America 2018 - Ken Lund

Family of child thrown from balcony in 2019 files lawsuit against Mall of America

The boy suffered serious injuries that have required ongoing care.

vaccine

Here are the vaccination rates of MN counties considered COVID hotspots

These 14 counties have what the CDC considers "substantial" or "high" COVID transmission.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, July 28

The newest data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

classroom mask

Rochester schools will require face masks for young learners

Students older than 12 are encouraged but not required to wear masks.

Trey Lance

NDSU to feature in FCS heavyweight matchup at US Bank Stadium

The last time the Bison came to Minneapolis they brought 35,000 fans.

Jack Eichel

Report: Wild 'backing out' of Jack Eichel trade talks

The Wild are concerned of the price and cost of a potential deal.

Jose Berrios

Latest Twins rumors: Berríos, Buxton, Maeda all landing in trade talks

The Twins are reportedly "extremely active as sellers" ahead of Friday's deadline.

oscar ortiz = moorhead manhunt

Suspect wanted in ND killing found under stairwell in Moorhead

He's awaiting extradition back to North Dakota.

hospital, emergency room

Separate crashes in western Minnesota leave 2 motorists dead

There have been at least 246 deaths on Minnesota roads this year.

Related

Connie and Austin Herbst

Charges: Wife, son killed man in 2013 and claimed he left and didn't return

The man's remains were discovered four years after his death.

jonathan greyblood

Charges: Little Falls man strangled his wife, dumped her body under a bridge

He had reported her missing and then admitted he had strangled her, charges say.

police tape

Police: New Prague man's remains identified, investigating as homicide

The remains were found in a wooded area of Wisconsin in 2017.

Maria1

Maple Grove man admits to killing his wife, burying her in basement

Officials say the couple was having marital problems that were worsened by the pandemic.

William C. Davidson Jr

Minnesota man charged in Hudson stabbing that killed New Brighton man

Cain Solheim was one of the three people stabbed in downtown Hudson early Sunday morning.

smoke bomb - edit

MN man pleads guilty to making, selling pyrotechnics on his farm

The ATF learned about what he was doing from a Popular Science magazine article about him.

tom burke

Charges: Wisconsin star, former NFL player sexually assaulted a child

The child told her mother about the assaults in February, charges say.

police lights

Wisconsin father suspected of killing his 6-week-old son

The father was arrested Monday in connection to the infant's Feb. 19 death.