Page 1 of the Milwaukee Journal on Sunday, May 16, 1993: Lake Mills, WI

2 killed in apparent murder-suicide: Founder of national men's group shot in back

An apparent murder-suicide in Lake Mills on Saturday af afternoon has left two men dead. Police would not release the names of the victims, saying that it was an open investigation.

However, relatives, friends and neighbors positively identified the men as Ronald R. Hering, 56, a nationally recognized leader of the ["the?"] men's movement, and Marvin Gerstner, a retired electrician described as being in his mid-60s.

A conflict between the two men apparently focused on a custody dispute between Hering and Susan Gerstner, Marvin Gerstner's daughter, over the couple's 5-year-old daughter, sources said. According to witnesses, Hering came to Gerstner's ranch style home about 12:20pm to visit his daughter, Gerstner met him at the door.

Moments later, Gerstner grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun as Hering was walking away from the house.

Gerstner fired a shot from a shotgun that contained rifled slugs used for deer hunting. Hering began running and made it across the street to a neighbor's yard when Gerstner fired again. The second shot hit Hering square in the back, witnesses said. "He was dead when he hit the ground." said Gary Miller, a next-door neighbor. "He had a hole in the middle of his back."

Gerstner then told his wife to get inside the house.

He laid down on his lawn, put the rifle to his chest and pulled the trigger.

The bodies were kept on the yards until the Jefferson County coroner could arrive and pronounce them dead.

Neighbors of Gerstner described him as a good neighbor.

"He was a heck of a guy" said Marvin Metzker, 78.

Family members gathered at Gerstner's house would not answer the door when a Journal reporter came to the house.

Movement Founder

Hering was co-founder and director of training for the Milwaukee-based New Warrior Network, Inc., a national men's organization. He was also a business consultant and professional speaker whose clients included Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac and the Canadian Real Estate Association.

He had served as director of instruction for the Kettle Moraine High School, a position he left in 1977 to work as an instructor at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater.

Hering was a regular guest on Wisconsin Public Radio.

"He was utterly dedicated to his daughter" said Jean Feraca, a talk show host and friend. "And he helped countless number of people who listened to him on Wisconsin Public Radio".

Rich Tosi, president of the New Warrior Network, praised Hering's work in the organization.

"Ron devoted his life to helping heal the hearts of men and women. He did that in his workshops, in his business consulting and in his personal life" he said.

Hering and Marvin Gerstner's daughter, Susan, 43, had lived together since 1987. Their daughter was born in 1988.

Susan Gerstner, a social worker in Jefferson County, declined to be interviewed Saturday night.

"I do not feel like making a comment" she said.

In June, the couple separated and Gerstner moved out of the Hering home, at 610 Fremont St. in Lake Mills. In the months that followed, Susan Gerstner accused Hering of sexually molesting the daughter.

Hering enlisted the aid of two attorneys to defend him in the case. Gloria Gerstner, Marvin Gerstner's widow, was scheduled for a deposition in the custody case Monday, according to John Neupert, Hering's attorney.

Hering was allowed to visit his daughter only under the supervision of friends whom Susan Gerstner approved. Saturday was one of those scheduled visitations.

"The System Failed Us"

"The system has failed us" said John Hering, 27, the youngest of Hering's five sons by a previous marriage. John Hering had testified for his father in the custody trial.

"Because my dad was a male, he did not have a right to fight for his daughter's rights. My dad was fighting for the rights of all men in this custody case" John Hering said.

Marvin Gerstner had threatened suicide before, John Hering said, and his father had reported that to Jefferson County authorities, who took no action.

"Now Ron is dead with two deer slugs in his back," John Hering said,

"And he died because of rumors. Ron had witnesses to back him up. Marv had no one on his side"

Source: Edmund S Tuerina and Dennis R Getto of the Journal staff

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