ndiana State Police and forensic investigators have completed DNA profiles for two different humans whose remains were exhumed from the estate of now-deceased wealthy Republican businessman Herbert Baumeister. Police believe Baumeister murdered over 20 men and boys that he met at Indianapolis gay bars during the mid-1980s and ’90s.
Baumeister, who is considered one of Indiana’s most notorious serial killers, lethally shot himself in the head on July 3, 1996, after police found evidence of 11 men’s bodies hidden at his 18-acre Fox Hollow Farm estate in Westfield, 20 miles north of Indianapolis. Investigators recovered over 10,000 charred bones and bodily fragments from the property. Police believe the remains may belong to at least 25 different murder victims, Yahoo! Newsreported.
So far, police have only identified eight of the bodies, but late last week investigators announced that they recovered two complete DNA profiles for two additional bodies. They will now check these profiles against DNA samples donated by families who suspect Baumeister of possibly killing their missing relatives.
If the profiles don’t match those samples, police will compare them to those stored in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national database of DNA evidence taken from convicted offenders, unsolved crime scenes, and missing persons. If that fails, investigators may partner with private DNA testing companies that conduct “forensic genetic genealogy” to see if the profiles match any DNA they can access.
Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison told WXIN that investigators will continue to test the numerous bone and body fragments to see if they can complete additional DNA profiles for other victims. However, DNA may not be recoverable from all of the bones and fragments, 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 killed himself 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.