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

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

Remains that were recovered in Wisconsin in 2017 have been identified as a New Prague, Minnesota, man and the case is being investigated as a homicide, the Barron County Sheriff's Department said Monday.

The remains of Gary Herbst, 63, were found in a wooded area south of Barron, Wisconsin, a news release says. His remains show evidence of a gunshot wound to the head, so the sheriff's department is investigating his death as a homicide.

According to the DNA Doe Project, in December 2017, a Barron County resident said his dog brought home what looked like a human skull. That led the Barron County Sheriff's Department to search the area, where they found the rest of the remains. 

Herbst's remains were identified with help from the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the DNA Doe Project, which worked together to match DNA from the remains to a close relative of Herbst in order to confirm the homicide victim's identity. 

"There is such exhilaration when through genetic genealogy we can return a name to someone. But a bitter-sweet realization knowing a family will not be getting the answer they hoped for. Our hearts go out to them," team leader Jenny Lecus said in a statement. 

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald says this is an active case and no further comment can be made at this time. 

As of Dec. 31, 2018, there were 8,135 unidentified person records in the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC), including 801 unidentified person records that were entered into NCIC in 2018 – nearly 75 percent of cases entered that year involved deceased unidentified bodies, according to the FBI.

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