In the early 1990’s, young men from the gay bar scene of Indianapolis were disappearing. Just a few years after the arrest of Larry Eyler, the Indiana LGBTQ community was once again being targeted. The missing men received very little media coverage outside the gay community and newspapers. Was it possible that, once again, gay men in the Midwest were being hunted? Was it possible they were being hunted all along by another serial killer?
On May 28th, 1993, twenty-year-old John Lee “Johnny” Bayer (pictured left) went missing from Indianapolis. John was last seen in Indianapolis, where he frequented the gay bar scene. On July 6th, 1993, Jeffery Allen Jones disappeared from Indianapolis. Jeff was thirty-one years old at the time he was last seen. Richard Douglas Hamilton disappeared a few weeks later, on July 31st, 1993. Richard was a twenty-year-old gay man from Indianapolis. Allen Livingston, age twenty-eight, disappeared August 7th, 1993. Manuel Resendez, age thirty-one, disappeared from a downtown bar in Indianapolis that same night. Manuel was a children’s counselor from Lafayette, Indiana.
(Richard Hamilton (left), Manuel Resendez (right)).
Although members of the LGBTQ community were becoming increasingly aware of the multiple disappearances of young men, the widespread media largely ignored the missing persons cases. On June 6th, 1994, Allan Wayne Broussard disappeared after leaving a gay bar in Indianapolis. Steven Spurlin Hale, age twenty-eight, went missing on April 1st, 1994. Steven Spurlin Hale, age twenty-eight, went missing in the summer of 1994 as well. He was last seen outside a library. Roger Allan Goodlet (pictured right), age thirty-three, disappeared July 22nd, 1994. He has spent the day with his mother, helping her assemble a bench and playing with his new kitten. That night, he went out to a bar and never came home.
(Steven Hale, pictured above)
Roger’s mother reported him missing the next day, July 23rd. Police told his mother that they would not consider him a missing person until he was gone for thirty days. His mother was not content with that and started her own investigation and search. She put up fliers and hired a private detective. Friends said they saw Roger getting into a vehicle outside a bar. The vehicle is believed to have had Ohio license plates.
Detective Mary Wilson had become concerned that the eight missing men may have met foul play. It was difficult to prove, as they were all missing. There were no crime scenes, no bodies, and no evidence. The private investigator and Detective Wilson tried to work together to solve the case, or at least find some links to determine what happened to the men. They asked the FBI to create a profile of the suspected kidnapper and killer. The FBI profile predicted that the perpetrator was a white male with above average intelligence. They suspected that he was in his mid-forties and likely bisexual.
Soon, a friend of Roger Goodlet came forward with a clue. He told a story about a man he met at a bar in Indianapolis. He said the man was often in the gay bars, always alone, and seemed uncomfortable. One night, the informant approached him at the bar and noticed the man was looking at a missing poster of Roger. The informant felt his behavior was strange and indicative that he may have had something to do with the disappearance.
The informant said he felt curious about this gentleman and started a conversation. The man said that he was a caretaker for his boss’s property. He said that the owner was renovating the home before moving in. He told the man they could go back there. The informant agreed and went with the man to a property in a rural area north of Indianapolis. The informant wasn’t sure where he was exactly, but noted a sign that said something about “Farms” as they drove up the long circular driveway.
The property was huge with a very nice home. The home appeared to be cluttered and lived in, however. The informant felt that the man was lying about no one living in the home. After touring the home, which was filled with mannequins, the two went to the basement where there was an indoor swimming pool in the walk-out basement. The two went swimming, and the man started to explain what he was into. He said he liked to be strangled and enjoyed erotic asphyxiation.
The man asked the informant to strangle him, which he complied with. The man passed out, but then came to. He then wanted to strangle the informant. The informant agreed and allowed the man to strangle him. As he was being strangled, the informant realized that the man was not going to stop. He told the informant he enjoyed watching the eyes roll into the back of men’s heads and watching their lips turn blue. He pretended to fall unconscious, at which time the man stopped.
The man seemed panicked and told the informant about “accidents” in the past where men had been strangled to death. The informant told him he would go to authorities, but the man laughed and said, “Who is going to believe someone like you?”. The man seemed convinced that the stigma of being a gay man in the Midwest would allow him to continue his devious ways without consequence.
Detective Wilson and the private investigator felt that the informant was their first big clue in this case. They tried to find the property described but were not able to. However, the man continued to pursue the informant, asking for another hook up. At the time, cell phones could not be easily traced, and the man always called from a cell phone. The only chance the investigators had of catching this man was so the informant to see him again.
On April 1st, 1995, Michael Frederick Kern disappeared from a gay bar in Indianapolis. In August of 1995, Jerry Williams-Comer, age thirty-five, disappeared. It had been a year since the informant had the strange night with the suspect. The informant was in a bar when he saw the man again. He was careful not to allow the man to see him, as months earlier the police arranged a meeting under the guise of a “hook-up”, but the man failed to show up. The informant and detectives assumed he was suspicious. Secretly following the man out the door of the bar, the informant wrote down his license plate number and gave it to the detectives.
The license plates on the vehicle were registered to Herbert Baumeister of Hamilton County, Indiana. Herbert Baumeister was born April 7th, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the oldest of four children and the son of a successful anesthesiologist. The family was affluent in the community. Herbert’s childhood appeared idyllic, but Herbert was showing troubling signs by the time he entered puberty.
A classmate remembers him taking a dead crow off the road and putting it on his teacher’s desk. He also wondered allowed to his friends what it would be like to taste urine. He went to a private school that valued athletics, which was not Herbert’s strong suit. He was not very popular and didn’t fit in. His father grew concerned about his strange behavior and sent him for a psychological evaluation. Herbert was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and schizophrenia.
Herbert kept to himself and did not date in high school. After high school, he planned to become a doctor like his father. However, he dropped out of his freshman year of college. He went back a few times for one semester at a time, only to drop out again. Herbert met a fellow student at Indiana University, Julie. Julie and Herbert were Republican students in a conservative state during a time when peace and love ruled. The two enjoyed each other and eventually got engaged and married in 1971.
Herbert and Julie started a family that included two daughters and a son. Herbert never finished school but was given a job at the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. He was known to act oddly at work. He sent out Christmas cards of himself dressed in drag and urinated on his boss’s desk. Somehow, he was promoted to program director despite his odd behaviors. He also kept a cake in a file cabinet so that he could “watch it decay”. Herbert was eventually fired for urinating on a letter to the Governor of Indiana. Herbert was described as eccentric.
Julie left her teaching job to care for the couple’s children. After Herbert lost his job, however, Julie and Herbert founded a thrift store. With a loan from Herbert’s mother, the couple opened Sav-A-Lot, in downtown Indianapolis. The business partnered with a well-respected charity and was very successful. The family had financial stability and were able to send their children to nice schools. The business was so successful that the couple opened a second location.
In 1992, the couple bought a one-million-dollar property in Hamilton County, Indiana. The eighteen-acre property included a wooded area, four bedrooms, an indoor pool, and a riding stable. The couple felt that the property was perfect for their children and family. The property was called Fox Hollow Farms. Despite having a beautiful property, the couple allowed the home to become cluttered and not well manicured. In fact, Herbert had several mannequins posed throughout the house.
Julie and Herbert did not have a great marriage, however, despite outward appearances. Herbert and Julie only had sexual intercourse six times in the twenty-five years they were married. Julie had never seen her husband naked either. He was ashamed of his thin body and would wear pajamas to bed every night. Behind closed doors, the family wasn’t as perfect as they seemed.
In early 1995, Julie and Herbert’s son told his mother that he and his friend had found bones in the woods on the property. Julie remembers seeing a skull and some other bones. She waited for her husband to come home and took him out to the woods to see what their son found. Herbert explained that the bones belonged to his father and were used for dissection and medical studies. Julie believed her husband and he promised to dispose of them elsewhere. Julie said she went back out a few days later and the bones were gone.
When Detective Mary Wilson went to the Sav-A-Lot store to question Herbert Baumeister, she was surprised to see the thin, feminine looking man. She felt that her questions about him being in the gay bar scene made him nervous. He denied ever being in the bar scene, but the detective challenged this by telling him they identified his vehicle. He then became embarrassed and said that his family did not know of his extracurricular activities. He denied being aware of the whereabouts of any of the missing men and refused to allow the detectives to search their property.
Mary Wilson approached Julie Baumeister, hoping to get her consent to search the property. Julie was shocked at the allegations that her husband may have killed someone. She refused to allow the detectives to search her property. Detective Wilson did not have enough evidence to get a search warrant yet. The investigators used an infrared camera to perform an ariel search of the property. The results were inconclusive and not enough to secure a search warrant.
Meanwhile, the Baumeister marriage was deteriorating. Their businesses were struggling, and the charity had ended its contract with the Sav-A-Lot stores. Their home was in disarray and had a pending foreclosure. After spending the 1995 holiday season apart, Julie Baumeister filed for divorce. Julie hired an attorney. She shared her story about the bones found in early 1995 with her attorney, who was bound by attorney-client privilege. The attorney did not share the information but hinted to the detectives not to give up on their lead.
In June of 1996, Herbert Baumeister’s behavior had grown more and more bizarre. Herbert closed one of their stores suddenly and then took his son on an unplanned trip to Lake Wawasee. The family was familiar with the lake, as Julie and the kids often spent summers there with family. Herbert, however, usually stayed behind to take care of the businesses. Julie then learned that their joint account had been wiped out. Julie feared her estranged husband was not mentally stable and feared for her son.
Julie discussed her concerns with her attorney and gave him permission to tell the detectives about the bones her son had found. She subsequently agreed to allow detectives to search the property. As they walked into the wooded area where the bones had been found eighteen months before, the detectives realized they were walking on small bone fragments. An all-out search began, and hundreds of human bones and teeth were recovered from the property.
Julie, fearing what her estranged husband may do upon learning about what detectives were finding, asked a judge for an emergency order to remove her son from his father’s custody. The judge agreed and detectives retrieved their son from his father. Hamilton County detectives had jurisdiction, however, and declined to arrest Herbert Baumeister at that time despite finding numerous human remains on his property.
Detectives found at least seven left metacarpal bones, indicating that at least seven men were on the property. The bones were positively linked to four of the missing men: Richard Hamilton, Roger Goodlet, Steven Hale, and Manuel Resendez. Despite this, Hamilton County detectives still didn’t arrest Herbert Baumeister. They explained that they wanted to get a clearer picture of what they were dealing with first. Meanwhile, Herbert Baumeister was on the run.
Julie lived in fear, not knowing where her husband was. Herbert had reached out to his brother requesting money be wired to him. His brother told authorities he sent the money to an area in Michigan near the Canadian border. On July 3rd, 1996, forty-nine-year-old Herbert Baumeister was found dead of a self-inflicted gun shot wound in Ontario, Canada. He left a suicide note that explained he was sad about his failing business and marriage, but he did not admit to any murders.
After his death, another man came forward that said he had a sexual relationship with Herbert Baumeister and confirmed Herbert’s desires for erotic asphyxiation. Despite the fact that Herbert was living a double life and killing men, the media portrayed him as a businessman and landowner. The media portrayed the victims as gay men who may have been sex workers, almost blaming the victims for their deaths. Once again, the gay community felt re-victimized.
Behavioral Science experts believe that the first murder Herbert committed was likely accidental during erotic asphyxiation. However, once he took it that far, they believe he was unable to reach sexual gratification without killing. Furthermore, detectives felt that Herbert Baumeister felt comfortable enough to bring the bodies closer and closer to his home, suggesting he had been killing for some time. The time frames of the disappearances all coincided with times when Julie and the kids were at the lake with family during the spring and summer months.
This information lead authorities in Ohio to take a closer look at Herbert Baumeister as a potential suspect in the I-70 murders. The I-70 murders occurred between 1980 and 1991. They stopped in 1992, the same year that the Baumeister’s purchased Fox Hollow Farms. All the victims of the I-70 murders were gay men who disappeared from Indianapolis gay bars. In the 1980’s, Herbert Baumeister was making several trips to Ohio on business trips, taking I-70 along the way.
Michael Sean Petree (left), age fifteen, was found naked and murdered in Hamilton County, Indiana on June 16th, 1980. The cause of death was strangulation. Maurice Taylor, age twenty-two, was found in rural Hamilton County in July of 1982. Maurice was believed to have been strangled as well. Delvoyd Lee Baker, age fourteen, was found nude and strangled on October 3rd, 1982. Detectives learned the boy was prostituting himself outside gay bars the night before.
Michael Riley, age twenty-two, disappeared May 28th, 1983, after visiting a gay nightclub in Indianapolis. He was last seen with a man leaving the theater. In 1998, a witness confirmed the man seen with Riley was Herbert Baumeister. Michael’s body was found in a ditch on June 5th, 1983. He had been strangled.
Eric Roettger (right), age seventeen, vanished on May 7th, 1985.
partially nude body was found in Preble County, Ohio. He had a burn mark on his shoulder and had been strangled with a rope. Michael Glenn, age twenty-nine, was found in only his underwear on August 15th, 1986, in Ohio. Michael disappeared from Indianapolis. James Boyd Robbins, age twenty-one, was found October 17th, 1987, along I-70. He disappeared just two days earlier from Indianapolis.
Steven Elliot (right) was found murdered in Ohio on August 12th, 1989, near I-70. He had been strangled. Steven’s father told authorities his son was gay, involved in prostitution, and a drug addict. Clay Russel Boatman, age thirty-two, was a licensed practical nurse from Indiana who disappeared from a gay bay in Indianapolis on August 14th, 1990. His body was found murdered in Ohio and the cause of death was strangulation.
Thomas Ray Clevenger (left), age eighteen, was murdered and found in Greenville, Ohio. He had disappeared from Indianapolis. Otto Gary Baker, age forty-two, was found in a ditch in Henry County, Indiana on August 6th, 1991. Both victims are believed to be victims of the I-70 killer. Many believe Herbert Baumeister was the I-70 killer. Once he bought his large property, he stopped dumping the bodies and started burying them on his property instead.
Herbert is believed to have killed at least twenty-one men, but possibly as many as fifty. Some remains found on the Baumeister property are still not identified. New DNA testing was performed in the summer of 2023 in an effort to finally identify the victims of the serial killer referred to as “Herbert the Pervert”.
Former employee of accused serial killer Herb Baumeister speaks out about his experience, the accused killer's temperament - WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather | Indiana Traffic (wishtv.com)
Lebalme, J. (1996) Businessman puzzled people in life and death. The Indianapolis Star. 15 Sep 1996