A 63-year-old woman has admitted to helping dispose of her husband's body nearly a decade ago after their son killed him in the family's suburban Twin Cities home.

Connie L. Herbst, of Shakopee, pleaded guilty this week in Scott County District Court to aiding an offender after the fact in the death of Gary A. Herbst in 2013.

In December 2017, a pet dog found the dead man's skull south of Barron, Wis., and brought it to back to the animal owner's home.

The plea deal calls for dismissal of the more consequential second-degree intentional murder count. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 24. In the meantime, Herbst remains jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.

In June, Austin J. Herbst, 27, of New Prague, was sentenced by Judge Carrie Lennon to a 12 ½-year term after pleading guilty to second-degree intentional murder. He will serve about 7 ¾ years in prison and the balance on supervised release.

Gary Herbst was killed July 6, 2013, in the family's home in Elko New Market. The body remained in the home until mid-August of that year, when the mother and son dumped it in the woods of northwestern Wisconsin, about 90 miles east of Minneapolis.

The son told the judge during sentencing that years of physical and emotional abuse that he and his mother had suffered at his father's hands prompted him to end the torment with a single gunshot.

After the skull's discovery, Barron County sheriff's deputies soon found the rest of the victim's skeletal remains. It took 2½ years before authorities identified the remains, thanks in large part to the DNA Doe Project, a volunteer organization based in California that helps law enforcement solve especially challenging crimes across the country.

On June 29, 2020, about a week after authorities announced the identity of the remains, former neighbors told police they saw the Herbst pickup backed up behind the home after dark in mid-August 2013, the charges against the mother and son read. One neighbor saw the two load into the pickup something that looked like rolled-up carpeting. Prosecutors believed Gary Herbst's body was inside.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482