Nearly 50 years after Lisa French murder, her family still fights to keep her killer locked up

Halloween is an inescapable reminder of 9-year-old Lisa French's murder almost 50 years ago while her killer could go free
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 5:23 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - Halloween marks 49 years since Lisa French was murdered, in Fond du Lac, by a neighbor while she was out trick-or-treating.

Gerald Turner, the man convicted of her murder went to prison, but more than a half-century later, French’s family is still fighting to keep him locked up.

At the time of her death, Maryann Gehring says her daughter, Lisa French, was wise beyond her years. According to Gehring, “She was just such a kind person. A child thinking of other kids. When she was 9 years old she came home from school one day and she said there’s a little girl in school who doesn’t have nice clothes and she was wondering if she could go through some of the clothes she didn’t wear and she should take them to school with her and she did. She took a big bag of clothes to school for this little girl.”

Fifty years later, the pain of losing her daughter, murdered by Gerald Turner, is still fresh. Gehring said, “I keep repeating this time after time after time. It still doesn’t get easier because it’s just like yesterday because it gets brought up every year.”

And for the past couple of years, Gehring feels she’s been left in the dark, wondering if and when Gerald Turner would be allowed back on the street.

Turner is currently being held at Sand Ridge Treatment Center, a facility for people deemed sexually violent. He was sent there after a petition, filed by then-Attorney General Brad Schimel, with the help of Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney, asked the court to commit Turner under 980.

A 980 would deem Turner as a sexually violent person and he’d remain a ward of the state for life.

Four years later, and now being handled by Attorney General Josh Kaul’s office, Maryann Gehring is disappointed to not have any resolution, adding, “There’s still more hearings and I don’t know when it’s going to end. It’s gotta end so we know he’s going to be put away for life.”

Earlier this year a judge denied a motion by Turner’s attorney to release him pending the outcome of the 980 petition -- so he will remain at Sand Ridge for now. But, the Attorney General’s Office doesn’t have a timeline on when a trial on the 980 issue will be held.