Gary Hirte was the high achieving teen who thought he could get away with murder.
Gary Hirte was a list of accomplishments under his belt before he turned eighteen years old. From being the first Eagle Scout that his town in Wisconsin had produced in twenty years, 4.0 GPA, all conference football player and at the top of his class. Pretty much he could do it all
The victim, Glenn Kopitske was not so fortunate in life and he suffered from BiPolar disorder and was receiving disability checks each month. When his body was found a few days after the murder authorities though he had died from natural causes that is until they say the brain matter leaking from the back of his head.
Gary Hirte would eventually be unable to keep his mouth shut and would confess to a friend that he murdered Glenn Kipitske. Hirte would later tell a new girlfriend the same thing. Eventually the girlfriend would go to the police and agreed to talk to Hirte over the phone in a conversation police would record where Gary admitted to the murder of Glenn Kopitske.
Even though Gary Hirte told his girlfriend that he murdered Glenn Kopitske to see if he could get away with it at trial that changed drastically. His lawyer told the jury that Gary Hirte had a sexual encounter with the victim and afterwards felt so ashamed that he would go back and murder the man.
In the end the jury found the teen killer guilty of murder and the judge sentenced him to life in prison
Gary Hirte 2023 Information
DOC #: 00475823
Birth Year: 1986
Height: 6′ 3″ Weight: 316
Hair Color: BROWN
Eye Color: GREEN
Dexterity: RIGHT HANDED
Location: Waupun Correctional Institution
Gary Hirte Other News
A former high school honors student and Eagle Scout was sentenced today to spend at least the next 32 years in prison for what authorities call a cold-blooded thrill killing. But shortly before he was sentenced, the 19-year-old said he “can’t feel guilty” for killing a man in disgust after a homosexual encounter.
“There’s no reason I should be held accountable for this. That’s just the way I feel. I can’t change that,” Gary Hirte told ABC News’ Cynthia McFadden in his first interview about the August 2003 slaying of Glenn Kopitske.
Hirte’s arrest and subsequent murder trial made national headlines because he seemed like such an unlikely suspect. Just 17 years old at the time of the killing, Hirte was a straight-A student and a track, football and wrestling star at his high school in the small town of Weyauwaga, Wis. The victim was a 37-year-old substitute teacher who was found shot and stabbed to death in his own home.
Gary Hirte eventually admitted he killed Kopitske, but asserted that he was out of his mind at the time — driven into a murderous rage after having a homosexual encounter with the older man.
Prosecutors say Gary Hirte committed murder just to see if he could get away with it.
“I really believe in my heart that Gary Hirte had seemingly accomplished everything and he thought he would do the most outrageous [thing], the event that would really make people go ‘Wow, I don’t believe it,’” said Winnebago County District Attorney Bill Lennon.
Hirte pleaded guilty in October to first-degree intentional homicide, but then claimed insanity, so the case went to a jury trial early this year. Hirte said a homosexual encounter with Kopitske sent him into a murderous rage that left him incapable of knowing right from wrong, but a jury rejected that defense.
He was sentenced today to a mandatory life prison term, but the judge said he could be eligible for parole after 32 years. With time served, Hirte will be at least 50 before can leave prison.
Gary Hirte told McFadden he couldn’t feel any remorse over the crime because the person who killed Kopitske was “another me.”
“It wasn’t this mind that’s thinking right now that did that action. So I can’t feel guilty for it,” he said.
Hirte did not testify in his trial. His interview with McFadden was the only time he has publicly described what he claims happened the night Kopitske was killed.
He says in the hours before the slaying, he was sitting on top of his car under a bridge getting drunk, listening over and over to a song by Nirvana.
“I think I’ve consumed what, six bottles of malt liquor. And like, 15 shots of vodka maybe,” he said.
Hirte said when he drank he sometimes had homosexual urges. He said Kopitske pulled up in his car that night and flirted with him, and they agreed to go back to the older man’s house.
“We both knew when he offered to go to his house that’s what we were gonna do. Something … homosexual,” Hirte said.
Hirte said he had never been with a man before and that their encounter was consensual. But Hirte also says after the alleged sexual encounter, he went back to his car, fell asleep for a while and woke up sober and in a rage about having had sex with another man.
He described feeling “just grossed out beyond belief, disappointed … [at] the proof of my imperfection to myself that I had done these things.”
Hirte said he believed a homosexual act was not as bad as “raping somebody or torturing somebody” but was worse than murder.
“In my own mind that’s the way I think, that’s what I think is worse to my own psyche and personality,” he said.
He said he went back to Kopitske’s house later that night.
“I saw myself just command him to lay down on the floor, and from there, I saw myself shoot him, I saw myself stab him twice,” he said.
“The second stab actually got stuck in his spine. And just in this state of rage, I picked his whole body up with my one arm to get the knife out,” he said.
Hirte told McFadden he doesn’t consider himself mentally ill now, but he says he was when he committed the crime.
Lennon, the prosecutor, says he is convinced Kopitske wasn’t gay and believes Hirte made up the sexual encounter story.
“I resent Gary Hirte using this gay panic as a defense,” Lennon said. “If in fact the homosexual episode took place, and I doubt that it did, I resent the whole notion, their whole defense, that this somehow justifies murder.”
But Hirte’s lawyer, Gerald Boyle, said for months his client had no explanation for the killing and that it wasn’t until a forensic report showed there might have been a sexual element to the crime that Hirte finally broke down. “We polygraphed him and he passed,” Boyle said.
Boyle called Hirte’s account “the only thing I know of that fits.”
However, some of Hirte’s friends told ABC News the teen liked to kill animals with his car and bragged about it.
“I don’t have any guilt for killing little animals because I figure I am doing them a favor,” Hirte told McFadden. “It’s just the way it’s justified in my mind.”
Hirte’s parents, Deanna and Mike, believe him. They say it was difficult for their son to admit to having homosexual sex.
“I think Gary was willing to accept life in jail to keep that secret to himself,” Mike Hirte said. “In some ways I’d probably put in that situation I think I would have probably been very tough to come forward.”
And while Hirte hasn’t brought himself to feel sorrow for Kopitske, his parents say he has apologized to them.
“He said, ‘I’m sorry, Mom and Dad, sorry you have to go through all this,’” Deanna Hirte said.
Mike Hirte said his son told him: “‘You did everything you could for me, there is nothing that you could have done any different.’”
Gary Hirte Other News
The mayor of a city where a high school student is accused of murder just to see if he could get away with it says the incident shocked the community.
Gary M. Hirte, 18, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the murder of Glenn Kopitske, 37, a local eccentric with mental health issues whose body was found in his Township of Wolf River home Aug. 2.
“Everyone knows the Hirte family,” said Howard Quimby, a family friend and mayor of Weyauwega, which has a population of about 1,800. “They are respected.”
Hirte’s mother, Deana, works for the county, and his father, Mike, works for a local foundry, according to a published report. They have a younger son and a daughter.
Quimby worked with Gary Hirte on some of his Eagle Scout merit badges.
“He was a fast learner,” Quimby said. “When he set his mind to do something, he did it.”
Hirte, a 6-foot 5-inch, 280-pound senior, was a two-time all-conference defensive lineman for Weyauwega-Fremont High School, a clerk at Dairy Queen and a member of the prom court.
As class salutatorian, he boasted a 4.4 grade point average on a weighted, 4.0 scale. He was also Weyauwega’s first Eagle Scout in 20 years
The day before his arrest, his school announced he’d won a scholarship to St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He intended to study criminal justice.
According to a criminal complaint, Gary Hirte admitted in a secretly taped phone conversation that he had killed Kopitske merely to “see if he could get away with it.”
Hirte’s Milwaukee attorney, Gerald Boyle, said his client has indicated that he was not involved in the crime. A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled for today.
Evidence suggests that Gary Hirte “sought that victim out, and stalked him, planned out the event and then killed him,” said Winnebago County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Verwiel. He said it doesn’t appear that Hirte knew Kopitske personally.
“Why does someone who succeeds at everything he does want to do something like that?” Verwiel asked. “It’s only speculation, but was it because he felt superior to all people?
“Or because it was the ultimate challenge? Or because he was interested in law enforcement?”
About 30 youths later admitted hearing that Hirte had bragged about slaying Kopitske, Weyauwega Police Chief Curt Field said.
In January, Hirte’s ex-girlfriend, Olivia Thoma, called Weyauwega police. Chief Field said Thoma, of nearby New London, told them Hirte had told her he committed the murder.
On Jan. 28, she agreed to call Gary Hirte while investigators recorded it.
The complaint said Gary Hirte told Thoma he had driven his father’s car to Kopitske’s home and shot him in the back of the head with a 12-gauge shotgun, then stabbed him twice in the back and once in the heart.
The next day, investigators arrested him at school.
Verwiel said the first time Hirte’s parents had any idea what was occurring was when investigators came to their house with a search warrant that same day.
The victim’s mother, Shirley Kopitske, said her son worked at Wal-Mart, and periodically as a substitute teacher, and he dabbled in comedy.
Field said Kopitske often had car troubles, and he would tell officers and others about his various medications.
“He was very lonely and living down a dead-end road. He was very vulnerable,” said Kopitske, who runs a tree farm with her husband in nearby Bonduel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gary Hirte Now
Gary Hirte is currently incarcerated at Waupun Correctional Institution
Gary Hirte Release Date
Gary Hirte is serving a life without parole sentence
- Gary Hirte Now
Gary Hirte is currently incarcerated at Waupun Correctional Institution
- Gary Hirte Release Date
Gary Hirte is serving life without parole sentence