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Suspected gay serial killer Herb Baumeister's 12th potential victim identified by police

Jeffrey Jones identified victim Suspected Gay Serial Killer Herb Baumeister
Hamilton County Coroner's Office; INDIANAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT

Jeffrey Jones went missing in August of 1993.

Indiana authorities investigating the thousands of bones discovered at the home of deceased suspected serial killer Herb Baumeister on Tuesday announced they have positively identified his 12th suspected victim.

Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison said the remains were identified as belonging to Jeffrey Jones of Fillmore, Ind., who was reported missing in August of 1993. Jones is the third victim to be identified following a renewed investigation into the crimes using DNA technology not readily available during the initial investigations.

“Because many of the remains were found burnt and crushed, this investigation is extremely challenging,” Jellison said in a post to Facebook yesterday. “However, the team of law enforcement and forensic specialists working the case remain committed.”

Baumeister, a wealthy Republican businessman, husband, and father, is suspected of killing over 20 boys and young men he met at or around gay bars during the 1980s and ’90s. Baumeister died by suicide in 1996 at a public park in Canada after police searched his 18-acre Fox Hollow Farm estate in Westfield outside of Indianapolis and issued a search warrant for his arrest.

Investigators eventually recovered over 10,000 crushed and charred bone fragments from the estate, and the initial investigation extracted 11 human DNA samples, of which eight, all young men, were identified and matched. A renewed effort started in 2022 identified multiple new genetic profiles.

Jellison reported that four DNA profiles remain unidentified and will be sent to the FBI for further and more intensive genetic genealogical investigation.

Investigators have long believed Baumeister was leading a deadly double life. While he appeared to be a loving husband and father and a successful businessman, investigators suspect he cruised local gay bars for young men he’d lure back to his estate and strangle to death.

Investigators also believe Baumeister is the I-70 strangler, a serial killer who killed 11 young men and boys and dumped their bodies throughout Indiana and Ohio between June 1980 and October 1991. The discovery of bodies from the I-70 Strangler stopped when Baumeister bought his Fox Hollow Farms estate, leading them to believe he continued killing but used the estate as his new dumping ground.

In 1994, Baumeister’s 13-year-old son Erich found a human skull and a collection of bones while playing at the estate. According to a 1996 interview with People, Baumeister’s wife Julia said her husband explained the bones were from an old medical skeleton used by his late father, an anesthesiologist. She also revealed the couple had engaged in sexual intercourse only three times in their marriage and that she had never seen him fully naked. The couple ran the successful Sav-A-Lot chain of stores, allowing them to move into the exclusive Fox Hollow Farms.

Julie said she forgot about the incident until November of the following year when police asked for permission to search the property as part of their investigation into a string of killings targeting young gay men in the area. Police said a young man had identified Baumeister as the man who had suffocated him to the brink of death during a sexual tryst at the estate. The Baumeisters refused the request, but Julie consented while Herbert was out of town in June 1996.

Baumeister’s body was found with a single gunshot wound to the head on July 3, 1996, at a public park in Ontario, Canada.

If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned that someone you know may be, resources are available to help. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 is for people of all ages and identities. Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The lifeline also provides resources to help with other crises, such as domestic violence situations. The Trevor Project Lifeline, for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger), can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Users can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678.

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