Paper Runs Photo of Plaque Honoring Murderer — Protest Erupts

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Family members of a woman shot to death in 2005 by her ex-fiancee, who then killed himself, were upset to learn that he’s been honored with a plaque in a city softball park.

The plaque reads, “In loving memory of David DeFrang, whose love and devotion to our children is greatly appreciated.” It was placed in Erskine’s Athletic Park about two weeks ago.

DeFrang was a coach of youth basketball and baseball teams in this northwestern Minnesota town, and a longtime supporter of and worker at the city softball park, said Patty Morrison, who coordinated the effort to put up the plaque.

But, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, on Jan. 23, 2005, DeFrang, 44, shot 39-year-old Tina Gerving to death with a small-caliber handgun, then turned it on himself. Gerving had broken off their engagement about two weeks earlier.

Gerving’s aunt, Linda Emerson, who lives in Waubun, wasn’t happy to learn about the plaque.

“Yeah? Why don’t they make one for Charles Manson, too?” she told the Grand Forks Herald.

Morrison said a relative and two friends of DeFrang contributed about $200 to the idea of memorializing him in the athletic park ball field. DeFrang used to be the president of the Erskine Athletic Park Committee, which refurbished the park, Morrison said.

“He was very well-liked by the community here,” she said. The homicide-suicide was “one of those things that is impossible to explain,” Morrison said, and it didn’t fit with the DeFrang she knew.

Rob Hole, editor of the local weekly newspaper the Erskine Echo, said he’s received no negative comments since a picture of the plaque ran in the paper Wednesday.

Emerson said her niece should be memorialized, not DeFrang. “She always worked, put herself through college, had four daughters, supported them, and she helped out in Sunday school … ” Emerson said.

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