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'Not acceptable': New push to put names to 17 unidentified victims of serial killer Herbert Baumeister

Baumeister Property.jpg
Posted at 11:25 AM, Nov 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-07 21:55:57-05

WESTFIELD — Authorities in Hamilton County are reviving efforts to identify the remains of more than a dozen people found on the former property of notorious serial killer Herbert Baumeister.

Investigators believe at least 25 people fell victim to Baumeister, who police have said lured gay men to his home at Fox Hollow Farms in the mid-80s and 90s and killed them. Baumeister died by suicide shortly after police began their investigation.

Herbert Baumeister.jpg
Investigators believe at least 25 people fell victim to Baumeister, who police have said lured gay men to his home at Fox Hollow Farms in the mid-80s and 90s and killed them.

To date, 26 years after the discovery of the victims' bodies, only eight have been identified. That leaves 17 whose identities have yet to be determined.

The Hamilton County Coroner's Office said Monday that DNA profiling could help identify those people.

“These remains represent people. For the past 26 years these people have been placed on a shelf at the University of Indianapolis, and that is not acceptable. We need to make every effort possible to identify these people and return them to their loved ones,” said Hamilton County Chief Deputy Coroner and Coroner-elect Jeff Jellison in a written statement.

Jellison explained to WRTV that after Baumeister died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound during the investigation, the case basically stopped.

Jellison said that although Indiana law only requires coroners to make "all reasonable attempts" to identify deceased individuals in their county, he doesn't believe officials have met their obligations.

"... Just because we couldn’t do something 26 years ago doesn’t mean we should just give up and walk away," Jellison wrote. “DNA was a relatively new tool for law enforcement twenty-six years ago. It was very expensive and often took months to complete. Now, DNA profiling has become faster and more user-friendly.”

Nearly 10,000 bones and bone fragments have been located at the property. Jellison says his office needs comparison samples to identify the remaining victims.

Jellison has gathered a group of investigators representing the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, the Fishers Police Department DNA unit, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department missing persons division, the Indiana State Police biology unit, the University of Indianapolis' archeology and forensic lab, and the Hamilton County Coroner's Office.

“We have a huge job in front of us; however, I have confidence this team of police officers and forensic specialists will exhaust all efforts to identify the individuals that were brutally murdered and discarded on Herb Baumeister’s property,” Jellison wrote.

Jellison is asking that anyone who is a family member of a male that went missing in the area from the mid-80s to mid-90s provide a DNA sample.

"We could test all 10,000 of those bones and bone fragments, but if we do not have family members of people who were missing during that time period come forward, then our investigation is going to come to a halt pretty quickly," Jellison said. "The process is quick, simple, and only involves swabbing the inside of the cheek. We can come to you or you can come to us."

Anyone who believes they are a relative of a missing person connected to the case should contact the coroner's office at 317-770-4415.

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