This is the final episode of our 3-part series covering Herb Baumeister.
Herbert Richard Baumeister was an American businessman and suspected serial killer. A resident of the Indianapolis suburb of Westfield, Indiana, Baumeister was under investigation for murdering over a dozen men in the early 1990s, most of whom were last seen at gay bars. Police found the remains of eleven people, eight identified, on Baumeister's property. Baumeister committed suicide after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was later linked to a series of murders of at least twelve men along Interstate 70, which occurred in the early to mid-1980s.
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Previously on The Secret Sits, Herb Baumeister had now been flushed out of hiding and he is on the run. His wife is cooperating fully with investigators. And that is where we find ourselves while we pick up our story today.
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Welcome to The Secret Sits, I’m your host John Dodson. Join us every Thursday as we uncover the Secrets behind the world’s most fascinating true crime cases. You can find all episodes of The Secret Sits for free on Apple Podcast, Spotify or where ever you get your podcasts. And if you like what you are hearing, reach out to us on Instagram and Facebook @The Secret Sits Podcast or on Twitter @SecretSitsPod. Now, on with our story.
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Just after Herb and Julie Baumeister purchased Fox Hollow Farm, a vicious series of murders along Interstate 70, seemed to mysteriously stop. The series of murders, committed against homosexual men had plagued police, at least the police who cared about murdered gay men, all of the bodies had been dumped along Interstate 70 in the state of Ohio. The investigation into what the media called the I-70 Murders, or the I-70 Strangler had produced no viable suspects or leads. Now, with the discoveries at Fox Hollow Farm, a prosecutor from Preble County, Ohio named David Lindloff, felt that his 11 unsolved murders sounded very familiar to this new case. Lindloff spoke to investigator Virgil Vandagriff about the case and Lindloff discovered that Herb Baumeister had made a lot of trips to Ohio during the 1980’s purportedly these had been business trips. Julie, now believed that her straight Republican husband, had actually been a maniac who had been sleeping with men and then strangling them to death right there in her own house while she and their children were away. Julie also now understood why she and her husband had only had sexual intercourse 6 times in their 25-year marriage. And Julie agreed that Herb may have also been the 1-70 Strangler, so she agreed to help Lindloff with anything that she could. Julie provided the investigators with credit card receipts and phone records from his trips out of state, so they could begin attempting to connecting the dots.
There had been an eyewitness to one of the men’s disappearances in Ohio and this man had sat with a police sketch artist, when Lindloff pulled up the sketch, it was a dead ringer for Herb Baumeister. When the sketch had originally been put out to the public, a man had come forward and told police that the man in the sketch was the man who had offered one of his friends, Michael Riley, a ride home in 1988. Michael Riley’s dead body was located the following morning. Representatives from Ohio and Indiana held a press conference announcing a link between Herb Baumeister and the I-70 murders. The fact that these roadside killings ended at the same time Herb purchased Fox Hollow Farm was not coincidence, and the proof of that was being dug up all over Herb’s backyard. The I-70 Strangler, now simply had his own, personal graveyard, for his victims.
Many serial killers have begun their sting of wicked deeds upon the death of a significant person in their life, but this had not been true for Herb Baumeister. No, Herb had allowed the dark shadow inside of him to take hold and experiment while Herb was working as a traveling salesman. During this time Herb’s business took him all across three states, all along the I-70 corridor. This time in Herb’s life was completely opposite from his life at home, while out on the road, Herb had very little money and he chose to stay at the cheapest motels he could find, the type of establishments one may call a, No Tell Motel. He also eats his meals at road-side diners and truck stops, these places were filled with clientele who accepted Herb’s strange behavior and they laughed at his often-off-color jokes and strange remarks.
Herb could allow his dark shadow to emerge and take hold on these trips. Herb had fantasies where sex mixed with death, the two primordial topics blended effortlessly in Herb’s mind. But Herb still never like being a solitary creature and he craved companionship. After Herb’s first couple of weeks out on the road he decided to begin picking up hitchhikers, just for the company. This was the 1980’s and hitchhiking was still a popular way for young people to move about the county. Herb picked up the random young men from the side of the road or at one of the cafes or truck stops he would visit, and the only cost for a ride was the stranger having to endure a trip listening to Herb’s sick sense of humor along the way, but that was all that happened, for the first few rides.
Then Herb decided to push his luck and see if he could get away with a more forward approach with his desperate for a ride companions. After a few weeks of practice runs, Herb had built up the confidence to begin telling these boys what he truly wanted. As the next young man approached Herb in his car, asking for a ride, Herb leaned over and looked at the young man and said, “You know that nobody rides for free. You pay for gas or you pay in ass.” And wow, what gay porn did you get that line from Herb? Herb was even shocked at himself as he let the words flow from his mouth. But he could reconcile this within himself, because he knew that it was not truly him, who was saying these vile things, it was simply his dark shadow, the other, vile creature which also inhabited his body that could so easily say these things out loud. Herb laid a sharp smile across his face and these boys knew, that they would not be exiting this car without getting fucked first. And if any of them had their doubts or reservations, Herb was quick to pop open the glove box, reveling the pistol stowed away, but just within arm’s reach.
Every time that Herb picked up a new boy, his confidence grew and it became easier and easier for him to push their face down to his crotch, they knew what to do from there.
Herb did not see these young men as real people; they were simply worthless humans that no one cared about. He felt he could do anything he wanted to them, because no one would look for them or care if they disappeared anyway. And in Herb’s mind he thought back to the road kill and dead crows of his youth, these young boys, he thought, were his new play things. Herb had ventured farther into the deviant lifestyle of erotic sex than anyone in his timid republican friends’ group. His friends may have just been discovering that spanking was for more than punishing your kids, but that simple kink was already old news for Herb and the gay community, who had already moved on to discover erotic asphyxiation. Herb had tried this a couple of times, sometimes by accident, when he was simply attempting to silence a noisy partner in his car, and each time he dreamt how easy it would be to just continue squeezing until the boy would become a lifeless doll for Herb to play with, just what he had always dreamt of.
Finally, on one of Herb’s trips out on the road, Herb stopped at a gas station and a boy with long-hair and blue eyes walked up to him, this boy had to have still been a teenager, by the look of him, and he asked Herb for a ride. Herb told the young boy to crawl in, and they sped away from the gas station. As they headed down the road, Herb decided to forgo the pleasantries and he grabbed the boy by the back of his head and pushed it down to his crotch. The boy did not move, until Herb growled at him, “It isn’t going to suck itself.” After things got going, Herb pulled off of the road, he pulled the boy out of the front seat and moved him to the backseat of the car. As Herb opened the glove box to get a condom and some Vaseline, the boy also got his obligatory glance at the pistol also resting in the glove box. There was little resistance from this boy, Herb figured that this was probably the way this young man paid for many things in his life. The boy participated without any resistance and Herb leaned forward and hissed into the boy’s ear, “You want to have the best orgasm of your life? I learned about this thing. This trick. You cut off your air until you are ready to blow then you let it all come back. You wanna try it? You want the best fuck you’ve ever had?”
In all actuality, it did not matter what the boy’s answer would be, because Herb immediately put his long boney fingers around the boy’s throat and began to slowly squeeze. He continued to squeeze tighter and tighter until the boy slumped forward in the seat, Herb did not move, he did not breathe. Everything was still and Herb waited, he waited to see if the boy would gasp for air and come back to life, it had happened so many times before. But this boy, did not gasp for air, and Herb began to trace the sinewy lines of his body with his fingers, he pushed down into the boy’s flesh with his fingers, just as he had with his precious dead crown when he was in school. He finally had what he had yearned for his whole life, a new toy and he continued playing with his new toy for several more hours, he discovered new pleasures and he exerted himself as much as he could. After so much exertion, Herb hardly had the energy to push this boy out of his car and he left him right where he landed, just another piece of roadkill, left on the side of the road, Herb thought. And then the dark shadow receded.
The bodies along I-70 began to pile up, however; because of who these boys where or what they appeared to be, homosexual prostitutes, there was little, if any pressure to solve their murders. When the police put in any effort to solve these cases, some witnesses did come forward, one man had seen a man picking up one of the victims from a truck stop. This man helped to create a sketch of the man he saw pick up the victim, this sketch was unmistakably Herb Baumeister, but Herb was a pillar of the Indianapolis community, it could not have been him.
The cases were identified as most likely the work of a serial killer, but at the same time these murders were happening along the I-70 corridor, there was another series of murders taking place. These killings had a very clear MO, the killer would walk into businesses just before closing, when there was a solo female employee in the store, and they would shoot the woman dead with a .22 caliber pistol. Over the span of two months five woman and one man had been murdered. There had been two other attempts at murder, however; these women both survived after their would-be slayer’s gun jammed. When the police had to decide weather to spend their time investigating, murdered homosexuals, or murdered white women, their choice was clear. I will say that some, even today, believe that these murders could have also been attributed to Herb Baumeister. These murders could have simply been Herb’s surrogate for his want to kill Julie and remove her from his life.
In total the still unsolved I-70 murders involved 12 victims; Michael Petree, who at 15 was already a well-known male prostitute around the Indianapolis area. Maurice Taylor, 23, who’s mother could not report him missing for eight months after his disappearance because she was confined to a mental hospital. Delvoyd Lee Baker who was just in eight grade, sold himself at Indianapolis gay bars for only $20 per night, Delvoyd stood out because he was the only black victim in this case. Michael Riley was 22-years-old when he disappeared on May 28th, 1983. Eric Roettger was 17 when his shirtless body was found next to a stream in Preble County, Ohio. Michael Allen Glenn was found in a ditch near Eaton, Ohio, it would take police three years to identify him through his fingerprints. James Robbins disappeared October 15th, 1987, two days later his strangled body was found in rural Shelby County. Jean Talbot, Steven Elliot, Clay Boatman, Thomas Clevenger jr, Otto Becker. All found along the side of I-70, left just like roadkill and treated just the same.
And then in 1991, just after Herb and Julie Baumeister purchased Fox Hollow Farm, the bodies stopped appearing along I-70. With the success of Herb’s new Sav-A-Lot store, he had to make less frequent trips out on the road. And Herb began to collect extra stock for his store at his new palatial house. Fox Hollow Farm quickly began to fill with boxes and furniture and creepy mannequins. When the children brought over their friends to play, Herb never allowed the children inside of the house, instead he insisted that the children go play in the home’s expansive garden. Herb’s new hording problem greatly upset Julie, but he continuously overruled her opinions. Julie just kept in mind that Herb’s long-term planning had gotten them everything they wanted thus far and she acquiesced to his decisions. Herb began scouting out locations for a second Sav-A-Lot thrift store, he wanted to create a chain of stores and he possessed the products to fill it.
In the Julie and Herb’s new neighborhood of lavish homes and rich acquaintances, Herb was known as the congenial half of the Baumeister couple. While neighboring children were over playing with his children, he would often bring the children snacks and drinks while they played in the gardens. Herb had spent a lifetime practicing his cloying hospitable self, the side of himself he showed to the public, while his dark shadow lingered just beneath the surface. Julie was known in the neighborhood at the harsh one. She hardly left the confines of their house, and on a rare occasion when a neighbor’s child made their way into the house, Julie would shoo them away, embarrassed by the state of their home, still over run with Herb’s treasures from the road. Julie treasured her trips with the children to Lake Wawasee, this is where Herb’s mother, Elizabeth, lived and she and the children could always get away to the lake to stay with her. Julie was not a big fan of Elizabeth’s, after all Julie had received an extremely icy reception from the Baumeister’s when she and Herb had initially been married. But anything was better than staying in that big house overloaded with Herb’s collections.
The house at Fox Hollow Farm was to always be kept to Herb’s standards, his megalomania had taken over the house and each time Julie was away with the children, he took to rearranging everything in the house to his unique requirements. By this time Herb had also developed quite a taste for cocaine, he had, had some experience with the drug when he still frequented the gay club scene, but it was quite pricey. Now, with Herb’s successful business going strong, he could afford to purchase the drug for his own recreation.
The combination of cocaine and an empty house all to himself, while Julie was away with the children, gave Herb the perfect environment to do what he had dreamt of his entire life, kill in the comfort of his own home. With Herb’s new found self-confidence, Herb decided that he needed a new sparkling personality to go with it, and so Brian Smart was born.
When Brian Smart first went out on the prowl in the Indianapolis gay scene, he did not get much attention. This was the early 90s and a nice guy on coke was not the stand-out persona, Herb may have thought it would be, instead it was just quite common. Herb would go to a bar, but mostly keep to himself, he was scared to cross paths with anyone who knew him from his time attending the gay bars back when he was younger. But this situation did not prove to be prevalent, because this new gay scene was not the same scene from Herb’s younger days. During the 80s, while Herb was driving all over creation, murdering young men, I mean, working as a traveling salesman, the gay community was in the throws of the AIDS epidemic. And this epidemic had taken more than its pound of flesh from the gay community. Almost an entire generation of gay men had died off and been replaced with younger, newer models. Now, while in the gay bars, Herb would get a head nod from other gay men, this head nod meant, hey man good job making it out of the 80s alive.
The gay scene from Herb’s past had also progressed, in the 70s flamboyant drag queens had ruled the roost, but now they had faded into the background of the clubs. Taking their place were S&M fans, clad in leather, sporting moustaches and bulging packages. The common gay guy was now tones and muscled bound; this was a brand-new generation of gays. These new, young gay men hardly threw Herb a passing glance.
Jeff Jones was 31-years-old, the age where you find yourself, too young to be old, but too old to be young. Jeff hated to be alone and so, he still came out to the clubs, he lived alone and all of his bills were paid, he was not responsible for anyone but himself. On this night, while out at the club, Jeff Jones met Brian Smart, he was across the room when their eyes met. Brian made his way across the room and offered to by Jeff a drink and Jeff accepted. The two men stayed there, at the bar for the rest of the evening, chatting and getting to know one another. Jeff thought that this guy was not hot, he was also kind of awkward, but he did have some positive qualities, he was a great listener, in fact, Brian Smart had quickly prompted Jeff into telling him his entire life story over the course of just a few hours. Another contributing factor was the endless supply of drinks, all paid for by Jeff’s new friend Brian.
As the night waned on, the young hot gay guys in the bar made their choices for the night and slowly disappeared from the club. Brian looked at his new prey and asked him if he wanted to get out of the club, “I’ve got a place just outside of town. The night is still young.” In that moment Jeff’s youthfulness returned, not sure if it was the man or the alcohol, but he reached out and grabbed Brian Smarts hand and they left the club together. Both men climbed into Brian’s car and Brain sped out of the city so quickly that Jeff was having trouble even telling where they were going. As they drove out to the suburbs, Brian became generous with his supply of coke and soon both men were flying, giggling at nothing and everything all at once, don’t do drugs kids.
The car sped up the long driveway to Brian’s house, Jeff was so high that he did not even remember exiting the car, but then Brian led him down a spiral staircase and into a strange dark room, the only light was the eerie blue light radiating from below a pool of still water. Brian began tugging at the buttons on Jeff’s shirt, Jeff stood with his eyes closed, the mixture of drugs and horniness had overtaken him. But then Jeff opened his eyes and he gasped in horror as he saw that he and Brian were not alone in this room. There were now dozens of other people in the room, people that Jeff had not seen when they first entered this area, in his cocaine filled state, Jeff looked around the room and his stomach sank, Jeff had heard stories about people who tricked gay men and got them into a secluded location, where they were then gay bashed.
Brian took stock of Jeff’s now horror laden face and he suddenly burst out laughing. Jeff took a step back from his would-be assailant and Brian continued to laugh, Jeff asked Brian, “what is so funny?” Brian continued to laugh and he pushed Jeff backwards into the pool. As Jeff unexpectedly hit the water, his lungs filled with chlorinated water and they immediately began to burn. He kicked his legs and his head burst through the surface of the water, he gasped for air as he still could hear Brian cackling with laughter, laying in one of the pool side chairs. Jeff looked around the room and now he could see that the pool had not been surrounded by people, but mannequins. He struggled to the edge of the pool, attempting to catch his breath, but just as he caught his own breath, he too began raucously laughing at the whole situation. Jeff recovered from this scare and he began to float in the water, Brian made his way to the edge of the pool and he laid down on his stomach just at the edge of the pool. Jeff floated over so he and Brian were face to face, Brian traced the contours of Jeff’s face, Brian said, “You want to see something really funny?” Jeff nodded yes and closed his eyes in anticipation, Brian’s hands continued caressing Jeff’s face until they found themselves around the man’s neck and Brian began pushing down. Jeff’s entire body, once again found its self under water, and when Brian did not let go, Jeff realized that this was no joke, his arms flailed about in the water and Brian smiled at him through the water, as Jeff opened his mouth to scream and his lungs were flooded with the chlorine filled water.
Herb held the man under the water until his body stopped twitching and then he stood up and slowly began undressing himself. He neatly folded each piece of his clothing and placed them on the end of one of the pool chairs, the hunt was now over, and now he could reap his rewards. Before Herb knew it, the sun began to rise, he had spent hours with his new toy, he was able to experience all of the things he never had while out on the road, because here there was no fear of being caught. As the sun began to rise, Herb threw this man’s body over his shoulder and he staggered out to his garden. Herb had been building a stack of tree branches and other yard waste, he placed this man on top of the heap of trimmings and dead leaves. He stood back to admire his toy one more time and then he lit the pyre and watched it burn.
Herb’s biggest disappointment with this, his first kill at his own home, was how high he had been, he found it hard to remember the sordid details that he craved. He made note, not to do that again, next time he had to be less high, so he could remember the details he wanted to remember every single moment. The problem now was that he was killing real people, unlike his days on I-70, these were real people from his own town, people that may be missed.
Allen Broussard was supposed to be meeting his boyfriend at the gay nightclub, Brothers, but he was running late. He circled the building attempting to find a parking spot, but this was a Saturday night in the middle of summer and the club was packed. The patrons had now overflowed out onto the street in front of the club as well. Finally, after circling around the parking lot several times, Allen found a parking space. He exited his car and began snaking his way through the parked cars to the club’s entrance. As he passed one car a man’s voice pierced through the darkness, “Someone is in love.” Allen spun around to find a car occupied by a non-descript man. The man invited Allen into his car for a quick line of coke. As Allen entered the car, the man began to drive away. This took Allen by surprise and he protested, his boyfriend was waiting on him, he had to go inside. But this man said they just needed to drive around so they would not get caught snorting coke outside of the hottest gay club in town, he did not want to go to jail. But all of this was just a rouse and this man, who introduced himself as Brian Smart, quickly drove out of town with his new victim. Allen’s boyfriend waited on him to show up at the club, but Allen would never show up anywhere again.
After Herb spent hours gratifying himself with his new found toy, he once again needed to dispose of the body, but this time he lacked the pyre built of garden trimmings and tree branches, so he had to use more fuel, because of the added gasoline, this fire burned hotter than the last and Herb was left with less to dispose of when the raging fire subsided. He did not even bother to try and dispose of the ashes; the coming rain would wash them all away anyhow.
Rodger Goodlet was well like around the Indianapolis gay community. He had a modicum of causal friends and his mother was his closest confidant. Roger’s father had slipped farther and farther from his life as he became an adult, Rodger was the dirty little secret in the family, as many gay people find themselves. While at the club, Rodger found himself in the presents of another man he had seen around, but he had never officially met, Brian Smart. The two enjoyed casual conversations and all of their drinks were placed on Brian’s tab. After a couple of hours of conversation, Brian reached out and took Rodger’s hand, “Let’s get out of here” Brain said. Rodger was a little taken aback, “So soon?” he asked this new found acquaintance. Brian just smiled at him and said, “I’ve got a lot of plans for you, I need the extra time.”
After Herb had finished with Rodger Goodlet, he knew that Julie would soon return with the children. He stopped going to the clubs and spent his time prepping Fox Hollow Farm for their return. As Julie and the children returned to Fox Hollow Farm, from their summer trip to Elizabeth Baumeister’s condo at the lake, the overwhelming house was still packed to the gills with stuff, stuff everywhere, Herb’s hoarding problem had evidently not improved during her time away.
The things Julie had like about Herb when they had met in college now drove a wedge between the couple. Herb just followed Julie around the house, all of the time, he attempted to act like they had a normal relationship, but even Julie knew it was just a façade, she saw nothing inside of her husband except a black void, a body that lacked any real human emotions. Now, Julie favorite part of life was when Herb was gone on business trips, or she and the kids were at his mother’s condo. And there were other aspects of their lives that Julie could not understand. The pair were still staunch Republicans, but their ideals and values seemed to differ greatly. Julie, thought that the poor people in this country needed to pull themselves up by their boot straps and make a better life for themselves, but Herb seemed to wallow in their misery, it was as if he enjoyed their suffering. Julie held contempt for those on the outskirts of social norms, but as news stories broke about missing and murdered gay men, Herb watched the stories with an absolute fascination. The children had grown to an age where they began seeing some of their father’s odd behavior, now Herb’s jokes, pointed at the children, would bring them to tears, rather than eliciting laughter.
Herb grew more and more distant at home and his Sav-A-Lot stores declined in popularity. With Herb’s watchful presents almost gone, the stores turned into just any other thrift store. The most Herb could muster was to drive into town every few days, yell at the staff for not upholding his standards and then he would leave again. This did not inspire the staff and with the decline of their moral also came the decline of the stores. Julie was over her living situation at this point, but she stayed on as a dutiful wife. The first real test of Julie’s faithfulness to Herb, and her ability to lie to herself came in the late spring, just a couple of weeks before she and the children would flee their hell house once again for a trip out to the lake to stay with Herb’s mother.
Erich was out playing in the orchard, giving Julie some much needed piece in the house, but then Julie heard Erich tearing up the gravel path outside of the back door. Julie had just a moment to roll her eyes that he boy was already coming back to the house and she plastered a fake mom smile on just as the door burst open. “Mommy look what I found.” Erich shouted, and as Julie’s eyes focused on what her son was holding in his hands, she realized that he was holding a human skull. Julie stared at her son speechless, “Do you think it is from olden times?” Erich asked casually as he walked across the kitchen and placed his new found treasure on the kitchen counter. “Everybody from olden times turned into skeletons. That’s what they said in school. Was it the people who lived in this house before us?” Julie slowly took a few steps toward the skull, now taking up residence on her clean kitchen counter. “Where did you find this, Erich?” she asked. “Out in the trees, there are lots of bones there. Maybe a whole person.” Erich said casually. Julie slowly took in a deep breath, looked down at her son and said, “Show me.”
That evening Herb returned home to a curiously silent house. He wandered through several rooms of the quiet home before entering the kitchen where he found Julie sitting with a series of darkened bones displayed on the kitchen table. Julie looked from the bones to her husband, “would you like to explain this?” she asked. Herb quickly answered, “Didn’t you take that anatomy class with me? I think you know what a skeleton is. The head-bone is connected to the” But Julie was having none of Herb’s twisted humor at this point. “You are not funny. What is it doing in our yard, Herb?” Julie spat at her husband. Herb slowly sat in a chair opposite his wife, “It is in our yard because I buried it there. Because I didn’t want the kids to find it, and panic and have this conversation.” Julie asked Herb, why on earth he even had a skeleton to bury. He told her that the skeleton had belonged to his father, a doctor, who had also taught at a medical school for a time. After Herb senior had passed and his mother moved permanently to the condo at the lake, he had taken a lot of his father’s things, this skeleton included. Herb went on to tell Julie that this skeleton had been in their garage for about 6 months before he buried it. He never thought that one of their kids would find it and traumatize themselves. Herb raised his voice and became extremely defensive, he wanted to know exactly what Julie was accusing him of. Julie was shocked, she was unsure what to say, she began to speak, “Herb”, but he cut her off, “Don’t Herb me, what am I being accused of? Do you think I run around robbing graves? Sometimes it feels like you don’t even know me. How badly did you scare the kids when you went and pulled all this out of the ground?”
Julie was out of words and out of fight; Herb had bested her once again. After this, Julie became even more protective of Herb and his vision for their future. She even coached their children about the skeleton and what they should say if they were ever asked about it.
And with that Herb continued on with his life, when Julie was away with the children, Herb hunted new prey, the dark shadow ruled the roost and burning remains became his weekly ritual. Herb made use of one single spot in his garden for his cremations. After the raging fire had reduced his victims into dust, he would load the ash, along with pieces of chard bones and teeth, into a wheelbarrow and scatter the remains all over his property. The number of men Herb killed this summer is not certain, many of the remains found at Fox Hollow Farm were too damaged to identify.
So now, here we are, back at Herb’s mother’s condo. The police have just shown up to take Erich back to his mother. And Herb took this as his window of opportunity to create even more space between him and his quickly deteriorating home life. He informed his mother that Julie had filed for divorce, he then said that he needed to travel back home to speak to Julie about this, and he walked out of his mother’s house.
Herb Baumeister was only seen alive one more time. A Canadian trooper spotted a car sitting by a bridge, he approached the car and observed a male driver sleeping in the driver’s seat. He tapped on the car window and steered the man from his slumber. The officer saw some luggage in the back seat and on the passenger seat, there was a cardboard box, containing cassette tapes. The officer told the man to move it along and the man started his car and drove off into Pinery Park which is located near Ontario. Here in the quiet stillness of the park, Herb Baumeister wrote a three-page letter. In this letter, Herb stated that his failing marriage, his failing business and other external factors would be the cause of his suicide. Herb still did not admit to his crimes, nor did he mention or recognize his homosexuality. Herb then ate a peanut butter sandwich and placed a gun to his forehead and took his own life.
The video cassette tapes, observed by the trooper have never been located. Julie Baumeister assisted Detective Mary Wilson and the Indianapolis police department with their investigation. The team went through all of Herb’s receipts from his time on the road and they matched dates and places to many of the murders at Fox Hollow Farm, as well as the I-70 Murders, even to some of the women who had been shot dead in retail stores. Virgil Vandagriff was given commendations from the city for his work on the case and then he returned to his normal life as a private investigator. By the end Virgil had run out of resources to help complete the investigation, but one final piece of this puzzle that has always fascinated the seasoned detective was this. Herb’s brother Richard Baumeister, died in Texas in the mist of Herb’s killing spree. Richard’s death happened when we know Herb was not in Indianapolis. There was never proof that Herb visited his brother during this time, but Herb’s hunting ground, one of the interstates Herb traveled on frequently, led almost directly to Richard’s front door. For Virgil, Richard’s death seemed hauntingly familiar, he was murdered as he was laying in his outdoor hot tub, he had been asphyxiated with a piece of garden hose. The police still have no suspects or leads in Richard’s case.
We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows.