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Mother writes 'Halloween killer,' again

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  • Nathan
    Mother writes Halloween killer, again By JIM STINGL jstingl@journalsentinel.com Posted: June 2, 2007 Jim Stingl E-MAIL Forever a child in our memory, Lisa
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 3, 2007
      Mother writes 'Halloween killer,' again
      Posted: June 2, 2007

      Jim Stingl

      Forever a child in our memory, Lisa French would have turned 43 this

      She's the 9-year-old girl from Fond du Lac who was sexually assaulted
      and murdered by Gerald Turner as she was trick-or-treating in 1973.

      So much strife has followed because at that time Wisconsin had not
      yet figured out that someone who kills and rapes a child and stuffs
      her body in a trash bag should never walk free.

      Lisa's mother, Maryann Gehring, contacted my newspaper last week.

      "It makes my blood boil to see what these prisoners can do," she

      And she included a copy of an angry letter she just mailed to Turner
      in Waupun, where he's back in prison.

      Never mind that she's upset about something that happened eight years
      ago. Living in Florida since 1995, she's just finding out about it
      now from the Internet.

      This is the second time she has written to Turner. They have never
      spoken in person, except that on sentencing day she says he turned to
      her and said, "I didn't mean to do it."

      The first time she wrote to him was in the 1980s. She wanted him to
      know that she forgave him, but not his sin. It's a meaningful
      distinction to her.

      At that time she included copies of some notes that Lisa had written.
      Maryann found them in the girl's dresser drawer the day after the
      funeral. They were tips for getting into heaven.

      Imagine. The mother of a murdered child advising the killer on
      attaining his eternal reward. And using words that the child had
      neatly printed in pencil.

      He didn't write back.

      Here's the way Maryann opens the letter she sent last week: "Gerald,
      I have lived for the last 34 years missing my daughter Lisa."

      She often thinks what Lisa's life would be like and wonders if she
      would have children of her own. Maryann explains this to the man
      whose crime shook Wisconsin so profoundly that he earned a nickname,
      the Halloween killer, and led to daytime trick-or-treat.

      The fact that his insufficient prison term allowed him to get out of
      prison after a mere 19 years also inspired a law that says sexual
      predators can be locked up until they're not a danger anymore.

      It has always irked Maryann that the law is named after Turner and
      not her daughter, she told me.

      But then she came to the real reason for writing to Turner. It's
      hardly news anymore, but she was incensed to learn that Turner had
      received an unspecified monetary settlement from Waste Management
      Inc. in 1999 to settle a claim he filed. He complained that the
      company discriminated against him by denying him a job in its Madison
      recycling center while he was out on parole.

      Turner was returned to prison in 2003 for 15 more years after he
      violated his parole by possessing pornography on his computer.

      "I have just recently heard of this stupid charade, and as I stated
      before it makes my blood BOIL," the letter to Turner says.

      She tells him to give the money back, although it's probably way too
      late for that.

      "Shame on you," this mother says, even using the word rape to
      describe Turner's claim.

      Just in case Turner didn't get the message before, Maryann included
      copies of her daughter's notes again. "Be willing to turn away from
      sin," one says.

      Think about it, Maryann tells him.

      "Knowing Lisa," she closes, "she is praying for you, too."

      Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or e-mail at
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