FOND DU LAC — The future of a Wisconsin convict known as the "Halloween Killer" is stalled as a state appeals court decides where to hold court proceedings to determine whether he'll be released or committed to a mental health facility.
Gerald Turner's mandatory release date on Feb. 1 this year prompted the Wisconsin Department of Justice to file a petition to commit the 69-year-old to a mental health facility, the Post Crescent reported. The state is arguing that Turner is a sexually violent person and suffers from mental disorders.
Turner was convicted for the Oct. 31, 1973 rape and murder of Lisa Ann French, a 9-year-old who went trick-or-treating that evening in Turner's Fond du Lac neighborhood. The girl's body was found days later in a garbage bag along a rural road outside the city.
Tuner received a 38-year sentence, but he has been released from prison twice during that time.
Turner was a friend of the French family, who now want him to remain locked up for life so he can't hurt another child.
Lisa's mother, Maryann Gehring, and sister, Susan De Pauw, have been petitioning online to stop his release.
"It's a good thing he is still locked up and not out on the streets," Gehring said. "I would just like to get this over with once and for all."
Turner's public defenders have requested that his case be transferred from Fond du Lac County to Dane County, where he lived when his parole was revoked in 2003. A judge approved the request in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court in April, but the state's Department of Justice appealed the decision.
The Justice Department argues that the case should be heard in Fond du Lac County, where the crime occurred.
Turner is currently being held at the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston, where State Attorney Brad Schimel wants him to stay. The facility is operated by the Department of Health for Wisconsin's sexually violent persons program.
A spokesman for the court of appeals said there's no timeline to make a decision.