Herb Baumeister: One Of America’s Most Prolific Suspected Serial Killers

Herb Baumeister and his home Fox Hollow Farms in Indiana. Wikipedia. Screenshot: YouTube.
Wikipedia. Screenshot: YouTube.

Herb Baumeister has never been convicted of any murders, since he committed suicide before he could be arrested, but the number of human remains found on his property could make him one of America’s most prolific serial killers.

Baumeister was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 7, 1947. Around the time he became an adolescent, he began showing antisocial behavior and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder, but was never treated for either.

In 1971, he married Julie Saiter and the couple had three children. In May 1988, they purchased a $1 million estate called Fox Hollow Farm, the same year Baumeister founded a successful thrift-store chain in Indianapolis.

Six years after purchasing the farm property, Baumeister’s 13-year-old son Erich brought home a human skull, which he said he had found in the woods on the property, according to a 1996 article from People Magazine. Baumeister told Julie that the bones were from a medical school skeleton that once belonged to his late father, a doctor, but didn’t explain what they were doing on the couple’s property. Days later, the bones were gone, and Julie simply assumed that an animal had taken them.

Julie would later learn that during the summers, when she was away with the couple’s three children, Baumeister would frequent Indianapolis gay bars – from which multiple men would disappear. It started in June 1980, when the body of a 15-year-old boy was found – the first connected to an American serial killer at the time known only as the I-70 Strangler. The boy, Michael Petree, was a male prostitute who spent time at Indianapolis gay bars – the same ones Baumeister would go to.

Ten more bodies wouldn’t be found until August 1991. Police believed that by then, Baumeister was using Fox Hollow Farm to dispose of the bodies.

Herb Baumeister's former home: Fox Hollow Farms, Indiana. Screenshot: YouTube.

Screenshot: YouTube.

In the early 1990s, police were investigating multiple gay men reported missing – who were all of a similar age, height, and weight. In 1994, a man named Tony Harris contacted the Marion County Sheriff’s Department to say he believed a man who frequented the gay bars – who called himself “Brian Smart” – had likely killed his friend Roger Goodlet. Harris based this claim in Smart’s odd interest in Goodlet’s missing person case and his own near-death experience with Smart sometime earlier.

Smart was identified as Baumeister, and investigators asked to search the Fox Hollow home and property. Baumeister and Julie refused the search, but in 1996, the couple had divorced, and Julie had become fearful of her husband’s behavior, so she allowed the search to move forward.

The first search of the Baumeister property turned up the remains of eleven men, and a warrant was issued for Baumeister’s arrest. One of those victims is Roger Goodlet, whose connection to Tony Harris led to police identifying Baumeister as a potential killer.

Before police could arrest him, however, Baumeister fled to Ontario, Canada, and shot himself in the head, leaving behind a suicide note that mentioned his broken marriage and failing business but not the remains. 

On December 4, 2022, a new search of Baumeister’s old farm was conducted, and a new bone was found, along with 20 locations identified as possibly concealing more human remains, WRTV reported at the time.

In May 2024, another search was conducted, and authorities recovered more than 10,000 bone fragments scattered across the 18-acre property, the Indy Star reported

The remains are being analyzed, Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison said, adding that just a tiny fraction of those bone fragments have been identified so far.

“We have roughly 10,000 bone fragments, and my guess is that we haven’t gone through 160 of those yet,” he said, according to the Star. “We’ve got a lot of work in front of us, but every day is a step forward.”

So far, authorities have identified at least 13 unique DNA profiles from remains found on Baumeister’s property, and nine of those have been identified as gay men who went missing in the 1990s. Four other sets of remains have not been identified yet. This number includes those found on the property in the 1996 search.

Two years ago, authorities asked family members whose loved ones went missing in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s to submit DNA samples to be compared to remains found on Baumeister’s property.

In total, that means Baumeister is currently suspected of killing at least 25 people (11 as the I-70 Strangler, and 13 more who were found on his property, plus an additional murder Baumeister was linked to posthumously). With 10,000 bone fragments to identify, that number could increase exponentially.

The world may never know the extent of Baumeister’s crime, and he will never be held accountable for his alleged actions, since he has been dead for 30 years. And because of that, he will always be a “suspected” serial killer.

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