BARRON COUNTY -- Criminal charges have been filed against Austin Herbst and his mother Connie Herbst, both of MN, following the culmination of the investigation into bones that were discovered in Barron County in 2017.
With the Wisconsin Department of Justice (WDJ) DNA Doe Project (DDP) the bones were identified as belonging to Gary Herbst, of New Prague, MN, according to a press release from the Barron County Sheriff’s Office in June 2020. Based on the evidence of a gunshot wound to the head, the manner of death was determined to be a homicide.
The subsequent investigation into the homicide led investigators to Connie Herbst, the wife of the deceased, and Austin Herbst, the son of the deceased.
A criminal complaint filed in Barron County Circuit Court states that during an interview with investigators in November 2020, Austin confessed to shooting Gary Herbst, his father, in the back of the head in 2013 at the home they had in Elko New Market, MN at that time.
Austin allegedly told investigators that he and Connie decided to dump the body of Gary in a wooded area in Northern Wisconsin so that bears, wolves, and coyotes would consume the body and no one would ever find it, according to the criminal complaint.
During other law enforcement interviews with Austin and Connie, the criminal complaint states that they had both described traveling to Northern Wisconsin to see relatives in the Butternut or Park Falls area or to go camping on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage.
Austin went on to tell investigators that he and Connie began to get concerned after investigators confirmed the identity of the skeletal remains as Gary Herbst. Prior to that time, Austin had remained confident that the found remains were not Gary’s because he assumed predators had consumed the body.
Austin and Connie were taken into custody on November 19, 2020, by Scott County Sheriff Detectives, according to a press release from the Barron County Sheriff’s Department.
Charges of Class G Felony Hiding a Corpse, Party to a Crime have been filed in Barron County Circuit Court against both Austin and Connie. If convicted, they each face a possible maximum penalty of 10 years confinement in state prison. The charges against Austin and Connie in Barron County Circuit Court have been filed with extraditable arrest warrants for each of them.
Charges of second-degree aiding and abetting second-degree intentional murder have also been filed against Austin and Connie by the Scott County, MN County Attorney’s Office, and a complaint filed in Scott County alleges that Austin Herbst did not deny involvement in his father’s homicide; and that he said that things had gotten worse in the home with Gary Herbst being verbally and physically abusive toward Connie, according to multiple Minnesota news outlets.
Online Scott County jail records indicate that Austin and Connie remain in custody there.
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Pursuant to the direction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicly, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.