The Halloween tragedy of Lisa French

Updated Oct. 2019: Some Patch editors, to give them credit, are, along with their red-dot — or blue-dot — maps, including some of the actual facts concerning Halloween and children and sexual crime and those on the registry, and a few are even re-running the letter of protest sent to Patch editors by us in 2017. Then, not so much to their credit, some are also running the Lisa French story as written by Patch journalist Dennis Robaugh in 2017 in their explanation about why Patch continues to publicize the names and locations of those on sexual offense registries as “Halloween warnings” at this time of the year. In response to that, I wrote this piece about the Lisa French tragedy, and I think it is fitting that it be considered again.

By Sandy . . . I just read the story of Lisa French again this year.

Someone posts the story of Lisa French shortly before Halloween every year.

It is a sad and tragic story.

A beautiful little nine-year-old girl named Lisa French, trick-or-treating in her neighborhood in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, was restrained, raped, murdered, and dumped in a field by her neighbor Gerald Turner. It took four days to find her body and nine months for Turner to confess.

It destroyed the innocence of the city, the state, and the nation.

Every Halloween, when media and activists are protesting the excessive waste expended on special constraints for registered sexual offenders on Halloween, someone prints the story of Lisa French.

“See,” they say. “It happened. We have to keep it from happening again.”

Yes. It happened. It was in 1973.

Forty-six years ago.

Many families in Wisconsin, according to reports, still do not let their children trick-or-treat because of it.

How many children have died in automobile accidents in Wisconsin in the past forty-six years? Do people in Wisconsin still drive cars?

How many children have died from gun-related incidents there in the past forty-six years? Do people in Wisconsin still own guns?

The fact that we have to go back forty-six years to find an example of a child sexually harmed while trick-or-treating speaks volumes.

Wisconsinites are free to observe Halloween when and how they choose, but to use this forty-six-year-old tragedy as an example of why those on sexual offense registries across the nation are subject to outrageous restrictions on Halloween is itself outrageous.

Those who commit sexual crimes almost never murder their victims. That places any applicability of this case to the almost million men, women, and children on sexual offense registries today at less than 0.00001%. And I probably haven’t used enough zeros.

Forty-six years ago sexual offense registries as we know them did not exist. If they had, there is nothing in Gerald Turner’s history to suggest that he would have been on one. That means that Lisa would have been the victim of someone who was NOT already registered as having committed a previous sexual offense, and there we have close to 100% correlation to the individuals who are committing sexual crimes today. According to research, approximately 96% have no previous history of this type of crime and therefore are on no registries. They aren’t locked up or confined to home with all lights off on Halloween. They aren’t checked on by law enforcement to assure that they are keeping themselves away from all child-related activities. They don’t show up as red dots on a map warning parents away from those addresses.

They are in your homes, at your parties, in your neighborhoods. They answer the doors and hand out candy to your children. They are where they have always been. And all of the Halloween restrictions on all of the registered sex offenders in America mean absolutely nothing.

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #48561 Reply

      Thank You Sandy

    • #48566 Reply

      Sandy – I posted this article in a reply under another of the articles here, but for context for folks to understand, far more children are killed on Halloween as seen in this article below and through the specific study highlighted (which can be retrieved online and read in further detail). If the NYT does not come up, you can find it at AP proper or another of other media outlets.

      Halloween Can Be Deadly for Pedestrians, Traffic Study Says

    • #48578 Reply

      Another point came to mind. I want to add another layer to “they’re not worried about you molesting their kids”. They are assuming that any time a sex offender looks at a child, they are undressing the child with their eyes and molesting them in their mind. It’s the mere assumption that if you are a sex offender you MUST WANT THEIR KIDS. So it’s a case of “Eeewww!!! Stay away from my kids, you diseased pervert!! I assume you must be thinking about them sexually!!!” We have the “sex offender cooties”!

    • #48580 Reply
      Timothy Lawver

      I’ve been in Wisconsin most of my days. Mr. Turner was the impetus upon law makers to “Do something (anyrhing) more to make the public safer.” Mr Turner’s behavior shocked the consciousness as did Mr. Jeff Dahlmer’s after him. Wisconsin’s society produces extreme outliers, though few if any wisconsinites consider the role of the society itself plays in their creation. Instead blame is placed on notion of mental deficiencies or defects. More often than not people think killers like Turner, Dahlmer, Gacey and so many others are ” Crazy people. ” Our society clearly produces violence, and it is our leadership that fails to address it. Currently a Wisconsin child is missing, her parents murdered in their own home and IT’S NOT A NATIONAL STORY!
      Must be an election year for BOTH PARTIES!

    • #48577 Reply

      To be bluntly honest, I don’t think people are scared of their children being sexually accosted by a registered child molester on Halloween because now most parents go door-to-door with their kids more times than not.

      I think this rule is just another way to exclude sex offenders and their families from anything fun that the rest of society gets to enjoy. It’s just another hateful, spiteful in-your-face way of saying, “We couldn’t put you to death and we couldn’t keep you in prison for ever, but even though to our utter disgust you’re among us, YOU WILL NEVER BE ONE OF US AGAIN!”

      I don’t care WHERE I GO OR WHAT I DO. I NEVER assume that I’m in an environment where no one recognizes me and where no one knows I’m on the registry. I assume I am watched at all times, especially in my home town. It’s a small town. I’m always on my Ps and Qs. There ain’t enough money in the world budget to bribe me into stepping out of line.

      • #48606 Reply

        I think I’m gonna post some signs of my own.
        The golden state killer was a cop!

    • #48671 Reply
      James Coghill

      This is for me the first incident of a sex offense committed on Halloween. After being actively involved on this matter for 15 years this one is the first. One incident made aware of in 15 years of eyes and ears open. There is no rational justification for paranoia of this kind. It’s time for a lot of people to let go of their fear and/or go see a psychiatrist!

    • #48694 Reply
      John P

      Does the fact it happened on Halloween makes any bit of difference? If you locked up/down this nut on Halloween – tho Sandy eloquently explained why he would not have been on anybody’s radar TO LOCK UP – do you really think he wouldn’t have hurt Ms. French or another the next day, week, or month? Really!? That Lisa was taken on Halloween was merely a fact of circumstance not unlike what color her hair was or what shoes she wore that night. If society wants to be safe they need to stop trying to incarcerate the masses they don’t understand and focus their resources on the very teeny few who actually represent a threat (those they know about and, more importantly those they DON’T!).

      Sidebar: Living in an iSociety allows every single person to know about every child who skins their knee on every street in America. In 1973 if a kid was killed it would have been in the local papers and known to the community but would rarely have made national news. The omnipresence of abductions and Amber Alerts on Facebook and Twitter make such horrors seem like an epidemic when in truth these tragedies are even more rare today then they were back then.

      • #48725 Reply

        Can you be sure abduction and murder are occurring less today? Mass murders\shooting ARE increasing as anger grows spurred on by the press.
        In Wisconsin, we’ve TWO open child cases, missing and presumed….
        Keep in mind them who gather statistics often have a financial incentive in distorting the numbers, especially when it comes to pet project efficacy.
        In my opinion were no safer in general today than we all we in 1972.

    • #48696 Reply

      they are taking the worst cases of all sex cases against a child and portraying all sex offenders as that type and raping them mentally to see what it feels like. That’s not right. I have been raped by the state of Florida.

    • #48697 Reply

      the people who were not notified of this prior to enactment in 1997 most likely feel more raped than the people who knew about it as part of their probation when they signed their life away. I would have never taken that wicked plea bargain

    • #48770 Reply

      the most nervous moments are when you leave your driveway on your street. The guy across the street; do you look at him? wave? IF you wave, will he be less hateful? The woman with the 2 small children 2 doors down; do you look? Do you wave? Do you even look that way? But as you get farther and farther away from YOUR home, where you are presumably safe, u feel more safe than you did on your own street.

      • #49013 Reply

        I know that feeling all too well, my neighbor looked after my family while I was in jail but then won’t make eye contact with me now that I’m home.

    • #60507 Reply

      Well I’m currently downloading a study the federal government did on children raped, molested, murdered, so far it does say there is no difference on Holloween compared to any other day in the year. I will copy & post it for all to have plus i will put the other article (if i find one) on any other children statch the way 9yr old French was and post it for all to have.

    • #60508 Reply

      Watch the last 2 minutes of this video.
      State of Tennesse has NEVER has a child assaulted during Haloween.

      I was the guy arguing on Twitter with that Patch idiot claiming that in the state of Pennsylvania, ALL sex offenders must be in their house by 5pm at night and that they must shut off ALL lights (lol).

      There is no such law.
      But this is a way that the public can further harass people if they know someone is on the SO list and they see them out on Halloween they can call the local popo’s to create drama.

      • #60513 Reply
        Sandy Rozek
        Sandy Rozek

        We are allowing the posting of this video here, with some statements.

        First, I can assure you that children have been sexually assaulted on Halloween in Tennessee. What they haven’t had, as far as anyone has been able to find, is a child who was sexually assaulted on Halloween in Tennessee by a person on the sexual offense registry. And law enforcement will let you make the assumption that it is because of their Operation Blackout, which is quite possibly the most extensive organized persecution against registrants during Halloween of any other state.
        What they do not tell you is that many states have no such restrictions and that some states do not allow any such restrictions within their borders, and NONE of those states have had a child sexually assaulted on Halloween by a person on the registry either.
        My senile grandfather used to run around the house in his skivvies every morning. He said it kept the elephants out of the garden. When we children laughed and told him that was silly, he would just smile and say, “You’ve never seen an elephant in the garden, have you?”

      • #60800 Reply

        This year the ll-day curfew runs from October 21, 2019 through 6 a.m. November 1, 2019. Each evening there is a 6 p.m. til 6 a.m. curfew. This extended curfew is only applicable to those registrants subject to the sentence of Community Supervision for Life. There is no statute that authorizes this curfew other than TCA 39-13-524, which states individuals subject to the sentence of community supervision for life can be subjected to conditions of supervision to the same extent as an individual on regular parole supervision. That means the 11-day curfew is nothing more than an administrative policy of the T.D.O.C. TN does NOT have any “no candy laws” on the books.

      • #60996 Reply

        True. There is no such in the state of Pennsylvania, but some communities might have that as an ordinance. I confirm this based on counselor, who is also on the state assessment board.

    • #61327 Reply

      I know this won’t be published, but all of you sick offenders should be locked up indefinitely, as well as the creeps that support them. You think a sex offender should be free? Let them live with you then. This organization is disgusting and none of you qualify as humans. As a molestation survivor, the fact an organization like this exists makes me sick. I have been forever changed and am affected daily because of creeps your organization supports. Since the incident, I have been incapable of trusting anyone or forming meaningful relationships, as I put up barriers in order to feel safe. Every single day of my life I have flashbacks. There are no “common sense” sex offender laws – that’s like saying there are common sense murder laws. When is it EVER okay to violate another person? A TRULY innocent person? I was just a child, I had no way to protect myself when sick men decided they were at liberty to use me to indulge in their perversions. Now I live with what they did every day of my life. My childhood was robbed from me, but that’s okay because they’re sorry now? But are they really? Sexual deviancy can’t be rehabilitated. Stop selling the idea these despicable pieces of trash care what they are doing to their victims. Do what’s right and just, and exterminate them. They don’t deserve the oxygen they breathe. The addresses and names of ALL of them should ALWAYS and forever be published. Society should have every right to avoid and alienate them for the rest of their lives. They deserve to have taken from them what they take from their victims. I don’t tell anyone my story because I live in shame. I am ashamed I didn’t stop them, even though I couldn’t. I have never felt privacy because I constantly feel naked and violated. It’s been decades, and I still feel this way. Why should they be allowed to feel safe and secure when their victims never will? Reevaluate why this organization exists. It’s very apparent you just want the laws lessened so sex offenders can be free to offend, as long as they only offend a little. I can assure you, no offense is too small to the victim. You people are disgusting perverts.

      • #61331 Reply


        Your comment was approved without hesitation because we are not trying to create a bubble without outside views and it’s important that anyone who ever harmed a minor understands just how much irrepairable hurt they can cause. I can sense so much pain in your words and it breaks my heart that you had to endure such a traumatizing childhood. That should not happen to anyone and nobody who is contemplating committing such an act will be excused here or even welcome for that matter.

        NARSOL is in no way advocating for those who committed sexual offenses to be free to do it again. We support accountibility for criminal behavior and steps to prevent it from happening again. One of the primary reasons we stand against sex offender registries is because there is no supporting evidence that they do anything to keep society safe. Instead there is evidence that they do the opposite. NARSOL wants to see laws in place that actually serve to keep people, especially children safe.

        Please remember that people are listed on the registries for many reasons that do not involve harming a child or an act of sexual violence. A large amount of registrants are cases of 18 year old high school students who had a 15 year old boyfriend or girlfriend. Also some states have children as young as 8 years old listed for playing doctor. Those are just two examples out of many many reasons of why the registries are unproductive and do not serve the best interests of the community.

        We deeply care about what you experienced and we do not want it to happen to anyone. Thank you for speaking your mind today.

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