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Forever a child in our memory, Lisa French would have turned ?? this weekend.
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 wrote.
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." ..Source.. by Jim Sting