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New podcast investigates 1978 Burger Chef murders in Speedway

'Murder Sheet' launches with a six-episode deep dive into the murders of four young Speedway Burger Chef employees.
Mary Ann Higginbotham.jpg
Posted at 8:32 AM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 10:51:08-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A new true crime podcast is on the horizon, and its first deep dive will be a notorious 1978 cold case from Speedway, known as the Burger Chef murders.

Murder Sheet — put together by New York journalist Áine Cain and Indianapolis lawyer Kevin Greenlee — is set to debut on Nov. 17 with a six-part miniseries, titled "You Never Can Forget." The inaugural series will exclusively investigate the murders of 20-year-old Jayne Friedt, 17-year-old Ruth Shelton, 16-year-old Daniel Davis, and 16-year-old Mark Flemmonds.

"It's just one of those things that stick with you because the nature of the crime is so awful — these four young kids losing their lives so needlessly is just horrible to think about, and there's so many different, bizarre coincidences and possibilities that are out there that it's kind of maddening," Cain said.

On Friday, Nov. 17, 1978, four young employees went to work the night shift at the Burger Chef on Crawfordsville Road in Speedway. By midnight, they had vanished, never to be seen again. Two days later, each of their bodies was found in a wooded area in Johnson County.

Almost 42 years later, no one has been convicted of the murders.

Tuesday, Nov. 17 will mark 42 years since Jayne Friedt (20), Ruth Shelton (17), Mark Flemmonds (16), and Daniel Davis (16) were kidnapped while on the job.

As the title of the podcast's miniseries signifies, the infamous case can not be forgotten even all these years later. But, especially the brutal way those four lives were taken, which Cain described in an in-depth report published earlier this year.

"Ruth and Danny lay facedown, side by side just off the gravel path. They'd each been shot multiple times in the head and neck. Jayne's body lay 50 to 75 yards away; she'd been stabbed twice in the heart, the knife's blade broken off inside her chest. Mark was farthest from the others and closest to the main road. He was on his back near a creek. He'd been beaten around the face and left to choke on his blood."

Greenlee, who also represents Theresa Jefferies, the sister of Ruth Shelton, knows all-too-well that the unsolved case continues to haunt loved ones, investigators, and the Speedway and Indianapolis communities.

"I've been researching the case for a few years," Greenlee said.

Greenlee is a practicing intellectual property attorney. When he first learned of the Burger Chef murders, it was Jefferies speaking on TV that, he says, "touched" his heart and drew him into "this very intriguing and bizarre case."

"She's always believed that it's important to keep this case in front of people," Greenlee said of Jefferies's approval of Murder Sheet covering the Burger Chef murders. "She's very pro-the podcast; she's very pro-doing anything to get people thinking about this case, hearing about this case, reading about this case, because there may be somebody out there with the last missing piece of information that could solve this once and for all and they don't even know it."

Murder Sheet will launch on November 17 with an inaugural miniseries titled "You Never Can Forget" that will delve into the Burger Chef murders — marking 42 years since the infamous crime.

Greenlee and Cain first met through an online newspaper archive called When Greenlee saw that an NYC-based journalist was clipping many articles about the case, he grew curious and decided to reach out to her.

Even though her traditional beat at Business Insider is covering major national retailers, crime reporting is Cain's long-time interest, which is how she started investigating a decades-long trend of restaurant-related homicides.

After given the OK to report on the Burger Chef murders, Cain came to Indianapolis for a couple of weeks and partnered up with Greenlee.

"We started working together and started doing sort of a joint investigation," Cain said.

They acquired loads of audio interviews from various sources and decided more people should know what they know.

"What we're hoping to do is add to the conversation and provide listeners more of an overview of the case," Cain said. "Some projects tend to focus on one theory or another, or one investigation or another, we want to give the listener everything that we have in terms of the various theories of what might have happened, and a lot of exclusive content and interviews and insights that they can take away to, hopefully, better understand the case."

The cohosts of Murder Sheet promise listeners multiple theories about who the killer may be that involves convicted terrorists, biker gangs, and a family of serial killers. One of the theories connects to the disappearance and murder of Mary Ann Higginbotham. A 22-year-old woman who went missing in June of 1978. Her body was found in a barrel in White Lick Creek in Mooresville a year later in 1979.

Murder Sheet will also feature an interview with a man who alleges he witnessed the crime and escaped being killed himself. Cain and Greenlee plan also to dissect the rumors that police "know who committed the murders, but could never prove it."

"The podcast allows us to give a good amount of original reporting. We're going to take the listeners to the crime scene and share the voices of these investigators and persons of interests and witnesses and loved ones of the victims," Greenlee said. "It really kind of gives you a real ... deep insight into the case when you can hear it all unfolding."

"We were thinking, 'how can we better serve this case and the victim's families?' And we thought that coming out with more information, and reorienting the discussion of the case on the anniversary, could be really helpful," Cain said.

Tuesday, Nov. 17, will mark 42 years since Jayne, Ruth, Daniel, and Mark were kidnapped while on the job.

"You just get sucked into this rabbit hole, and not only is it a rabbit hole, but it has a lot of different tunnels that branch out from the center," Cain said. "And you sort of get lost in those. I don't think Kevin and I will ever forget this case. Or really truly move on from it until there are answers."

After the miniseries concludes, Murder Sheet will cover the phenomenon of restaurant homicides and shine a spotlight on the "violent underbelly" of the fast-food industry that dates back to the 17th century.

Those interested in tuning in to Murder Sheet can listen on Apple, Spotify, and Stitcher. The podcast is also listed on 11 other popular podcast streaming services.

The Burger Chef murders is still an active investigation by the Indiana State Police.

Cohosts of the podcast "Murder Sheet," Áine Cain (pictured above) and Kevin Greenlee, will be taking a close look at the facts of the Burger Chef murders, and several fraught theories that have arisen over the years.
Cohosts of the podcast "Murder Sheet," Áine Cain and Kevin Greenlee (pictured above), will be taking a close look at the facts of the Burger Chef murders, and several fraught theories that have arisen over the years.