Herbert Baumeister was an infamous serial killer and businessman who was active between 1980 and 1996, predominately targeting gay men. After his crimes were revealed, Herbert died by suicide before he could go to trial.
Herbert Richard Baumeister was born on April 7, 1947 in Indianapolis, Indiana. In his early childhood, Herbert exhibited behaviors characterized with Anti-Social Personality Disorder, such as playing with dead animals and urinating on his teacher’s desk. In his teens, Herbert was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but did not receive treatment for this.
Herbert Baumeister attended Indiana University in 1965, later dropping out and attending Butler University in 1972. During his career life, Herbert was known for having a strong work ethic, but exhibited odd behavior. Herbert went on to found the successful chain thrift store called Sav-A-Lot in 1988.
In November of 1971, Herbert married Jauliana Saiter, and went on to have 3 children with her. After Herbert’s case went public, Juliana revealed that they were only intimate about 6 times in their 25 year marriage. In the 1970s, Herbert’s father committed him to a psychiatric hospital several times, as his wife claimed that he was hurting and needed help.
In the early 1990s, Indianapolis became rocked by the frequent disappearances of gay men in the area who were all similar in height, weight, and age. Detectives began investigating the disappearances and received a tip from someone. In 1992, a man named Tony Harris claimed that another man whom identified himself as “Brain Smart” killed his friend and attempted to kill him during an erotic asphyxiation session. Tony saw the man again at the same gay bar in August 1995; he followed the man and took his license plate number. The license plate information revealed this man’s real name: Herbert Baumeister.
Investigators wanted to search the Baumeister farm and interview Herbert, but he refused and did not want to cooperate. Despite being originally uncomfortable of allowing the investigators to search their property, Juliana Baumeister later revealed to detectives that in December of 1994, she found what she thought was possibly human remains on a section of the property. These remains included a scull and bones. She notified her husband, but he claimed the skull belonged to his father, who was a physician. Juliana stated that she never saw the remains again after that.
With this information, investigators began digging on the Baumeister property. This investigation uncovered the remains of 11 men, 8 of which have been identified as: John Lee Bayer (20), Richard Douglas Hamilton (20), Steven S Hale (26), Allen Wayne Broussard (28), Jeffrey A Jones (31), Manuel Resendez (31), Roger Allen Goodlet (33), and Michael Frederick Kiern (46). The other 2 bodies remain unidentified.
Days after the bodies were found, a warrant for Herbert’s arrest was released. Herbert then fled to Ontario, Canada, and killed himself with a gunshot to the head in Pinery Provincial Park on July 3, 1996. He left a suicide note, claiming his failing marriage and business drove him to suicide. However, his note did not reveal any confession to the murders of the men found on his property.
Following his death, Herbert was also suspected to be the I-70 strangler, a murderer that killed 12 young men along Interstate 70, between Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio sometime between 1980-1991. An eyewitness claims that he saw Herbert leaving a bar in 1983 with 22 year old Michael Riley, who was later found strangled to death and nude in a river. Despite the suspicions of Herbert’s involvement, the I-70 murders remain unsolved. As of 2022, investigators are still searching Herbert Baumeister’s property as new remains are still being discovered.
The crimes of Herbert Baumeister doesn’t seem to get as much media coverage as other cases of serial killers, like Jeffery Dahmer or Ted Bundy. I personally had never even heard the name Herbert Baumeister until just a few days ago. Although he was not formally convicted for his crimes, I believe the evidence and the circumstances surrounding this case reveal that Herbert is the obvious perpetrator. I believe it is important to bring cases like this to light to help and solve other cases, like giving the 2 remaining victims their names back, or finding the true identity of the I-70 killer. Do you think that Herbert Baumeister was responsible for more murders? Do you think he is the person behind the I-70 killings? Leave your thoughts below.