Skeletal remains discovered by Wisconsin dog in 2017 identified as Minnesota man

BARRON COUNTY (FOX 9) -- Authorities have identified skeletal remains found in Barron, Wisconsin in 2017 as a New Prague, Minnesota man, the Barron County Sheriff announced Tuesday.

In December 2017, a Barron County resident said his dog brought home what looked like the partial remains of a human skull. Barron County Sheriff’s deputies searched the area and found the rest of the remains in a wooded area south of Barron, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, the Barron County Sheriff, the Wisconsin Department of Justice/Department of Criminal Investigation and the DNA Doe Project announced the remains belonged to Gary Herbst, 63, of New Prague, Minnesota.

According to the DNA Doe Project, Herbst had evidence of a gunshot wound to the head. His death is now being investigated as a homicide and is an active case.

The DNA Doe Project first became involved in the case in January 2019 after the Wisconsin Department of Justice asked for its help. The group worked to sequence the DNA found on the remains, which eventually led to a usable file by the end of 2019. A close relative of Herbst was able to get the DNA Doe Project Herbst's DNA, which ultimately confirmed his identity.

The DNA Doe Project team leader on the case described the moment their team cracked the case:

“There is such exhilaration when through genetic genealogy we can return a name to someone," said Jenny Lecus. "But a bitter-sweet realization knowing a family will not be getting the answer they hoped for. Our hearts go out to them.”