Dane County officials discuss impending release of so-called ‘Halloween killer’

Dane County officials discuss impending release of so-called ‘Halloween killer’
Department of Corrections

A man convicted of killing a girl in 1973 might be planning to move to the Madison area if he is released, officials said.

Gerald M. Turner Jr. , now 68, was convicted for the murder and sexual assault of 9-year-old Lisa Ann French on Halloween in Fon du Lac, according to a release from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office. He was sentenced to 38 years.

Turner’s conviction later led to the creation of Wisconsin’s sexual predator law.

In 1998, Turner was put on parole in a Milwaukee halfway house, and then Madison. In 2002, Turner was sent back to prison for violating the rules of his supervision, which included possessing pornography.

“We are concerned that if Turner returns into the community with what we have seen, it raises a concern that he could re-offend,” Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said during a press conference Monday. “And we don’t want that to occur in our community, or any community.”

In December, the family of French started trying to block Turner’s release .

French was just 9 years old when she kissed her parents goodbye and ran out of the house to trick-or-treat in the neighborhood. Her third stop that night was at the home of Gerald Turner, the man who would later be convicted of killing her. The girl’s naked body was found in a garbage bag, tossed in a farm field.

Her mother, Maryann Gehring, created an online petition to keep Turner behind bars.

“This man is not normal. He should not be on the streets. I want to help protect the other kids,” Gehring said.

Turner is expected to be released on Feb. 1 and has expressed interest in moving to the Madison area.

“His repeated history into pornography has caused him to be a violent sexual criminal. It causes a chemical imbalance in the brain and he can’t get enough of that and that’s what happened to my daughter,” Gehring said.

Attorney General Brad Schimel announced Friday that he has filed a petition to commit Turner. Because of the petition, Turner will be held in custody until a probable cause hearing can take place in Fond Du Lac County Circuit Court.

“Just prayer, that the judge has a brain in his head. I already have faith in God that he is in control,” she said.

If released, Turner will be required by state law to register as a sex offender and will be monitored with a GPS ankle bracelet for the remainder as long as he lives in Wisconsin, but because he has completed his sentence, he will not be on community supervision.

“We can’t tell him where to live or where we cannot live. We just take the information. Essentially what the sex offender registry and GPS are used as a tool to monitor his whereabouts and essentially a tool for law enforcement to monitor where he is at along with the victim and the general public,” said Grace Knutson, Department of Corrections director of sex offender programs.

The GPS monitor will update his location every 30 seconds. Turner is required to update his information, including his address, with the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry within 10 days of any changes and provide updates to the registry every three months.

Turner will remain behind bars until a probable cause hearing scheduled for Feb. 9.

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