Skip to main content

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.

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

Dean Evason

Tempers flare as Wild hammer Canadiens

Montreal was anything but polite after the Wild picked up an 8-2 victory.

Blaine VFW video screengrab crop N West Twitter

Authorities now looking into MN lawmaker's report of assault

Video shows Rep. Nolan West being grabbed and pushed out of a public event.

TajPharmaImages WIkimedia Commons ivermectin

COVID treatments: Essentia Health to help test 3 existing meds

The clinical trial includes the much-discussed drug ivermectin.

Screen Shot 2022-01-24 at 3.48.57 PM

Suspect crashes into Minneapolis snow plow, fires shots at plow driver

The plow driver was pulled to the side of the road when the incident happened.

cold Minneapolis

Coldest day of the winter is possible this week in Minnesota

An air temp of -30F isn't out of the question too far from the metro.

polley freeborn county jail roster jan 2022 resize

District fires school counselor accused of sexually assaulting student

He's been charged with felony criminal sexual conduct.

Moorhead family

Authorities pinpoint source of CO that killed family of 7

The victims, all members of Hernandez-Pinto family, were found dead in a Moorhead home.

polymet mining

Court issues mixed ruling on PolyMet, orders more analysis on water permit

The court, however, overruled several challenges to the permit.

SPPD Kua person of interest 01-24-2022

Police release images of woman driving stolen Audi that had puppy inside

It's not clear whether she was involved in the vehicle theft.

J R Jones - Anoka County Jail 2021.10.16 - Resize crop

Fatal hit-and-run driver can avoid prison time with plea deal

He was charged with striking and killing a 56-year-old who was walking her dog.

Screen Shot 2022-01-24 at 11.21.49 AM

Alex Rodriguez: 'I'm not a Packers fan'

He was at Lambeau screaming "Cheese!" and "Let's go!" during the playoff game against the 49ers.


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.

Connie and Austin Herbst

Mother accused of helping son dump her husband's body in WI pleads guilty

The investigation began years later, when the man's remains were discovered.

Dunn County WI homicide suspect

Charges: Man who killed 4 friends, drove bodies to WI said he 'snapped'

Charges filed Tuesday reveal more details about the grisly case.

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.

jeremy jones richardson - pine county

Charges: Man broke into friend's home, killed him with his cane

Pieces of the victim's cane were found on his back, 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.

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.


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.