Police identify 12th victim buried on estate of closeted Republican murderer

LGBTQ Entertainment News

Herbert Baumeister, gay serial killer, Republican, businessman, Indianapolis, Indiana, I-70 strangler

Herbert Baumeister Photo: WXIN screenshot

Police in Indianapolis have identified a 12th body buried on the estate of now-deceased wealthy Republican businessman Herbert Baumeister, a closeted gay man who is believed to have murdered over 20 men and boys that he met in Indianapolis gay bars during the mid-1980s and ’90s.

DNA and forensic genetic genealogy testing helped police determine that a bone found on Baumeister’s 18-acre Fox Hollow Farm estate in Westfield belonged to Jeffrey Jones. Jones lived in Fillmore, Indiana — a city located 63 miles southwest of Westfield — when he mysteriously disappeared in 1993. A team of law enforcement and forensic investigators identified Jones’ remains using DNA samples and bone fragments, Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison said.

“Because many of the remains were found burnt and crushed, this investigation is extremely challenging; however, the team of law enforcement and forensic specialists working the case remain committed. A special thanks goes to the very talented and hardworking people at the FBI, Indiana State Police Laboratory, Dr. Krista Latham of the Biology & Anthropology Department at the University of Indianapolis, and DNA experts from Texas based Othram Laboratory.” said Coroner Jellison.

“Because many of the remains were found burnt and crushed, this investigation is extremely challenging,” Jellison wrote in a May 21 Facebook post. Jellison said that four additional DNA profiles have not yet been identified but will be sent to the FBI for genetic genealogy investigation.

The effort to identify the victims has been complicated by the fact that many of the bones recovered from the Baumeister’s estate had been burned or crushed, “probably the two worst things that you can do to remains,” Jellison said.

Baumeister was a married father of three and the founder of the local Sav-A-Lot thrift stores that made him wealthy. His wife of 25 years said that she and Baumeister only had sex six times during their marriage and that she never saw him nude. In 1994, his 13-year-old son found a partly buried human skeleton on the estate, but Baumeister said the cadaver had belonged to his father who was a doctor.

In the early 1990s, when Indiana State Police began investigating the murders of gay men who had last been seen at Indianapolis gay bars, one man identified Baumeister as a person who nearly suffocated him to death during a sexual encounter at Baumeister’s estate. Concerned about Baumeister’s increasingly erratic behavior, Baumeister’s wife allowed police to search the family’s estate while he was out of town.

Police initially found evidence of 11 bodies on the estate’s grounds and issued a warrant for his arrest. In response, Baumeister lethally shot himself in the head at Pinery Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

Police also suspect that Baumeister may have been the “I-70 Strangler,” a serial murderer who dumped his naked or partially clothed victims’ bodies near Interstate 70 during the late 1980s. Though the serial killings remain officially unsolved, in April 1999, police named Baumeister as their prime suspect in the case, noting that bodies stopped appearing on the interstate after Baumeister purchased his estate in 1991. Baumeister’s victims ranged in age from 14 to 45.

Jellison said that he found it “unacceptable” that human remains have been sitting on a shelf for decades without being identified. “These remains represent people. These people are someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s father. They’re not just a box of bones. They’re people and we have to pursue it,” he said.

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