Jeff Jellison, Hamilton County’s chief deputy coroner and coroner-elect, is looking to identify human remains found on an 18-acre estate in Westfield, Indiana, that once belonged to a man suspected of killing numerous young gay men, the Associated Press reported. The estate, known as Fox Hollow Farm, was previously owned by businessman Herbert Baumeister, who killed himself in Canada in July 1996 at the age of 49 when police were looking to question him about the remains found on his Indiana property.
More than 10,000 human bones and bone fragments have been found on the land since the mid-1990s, the AP reported.
“Some of them as small as a fingernail, some of them as large as some leg bones,” Jellison said in a press release, according to Fox 59. “Most of those remains were crushed before they were discarded, a lot of them were also burnt before they were discarded. Those two things right there create huge hurdles.”
Authorities have suggested that Baumeister, a married father of three, would go to gay bars and pick up young men he brought back to his home, where he killed them.
Police have linked Baumeister to the disappearance of at least 16 men since 1980 but believe the bones and bone fragments could belong to at least 25 people. In addition to the remains on his property, several bodies were found in shallow streams in Indiana and Ohio and are also believed to be linked to Baumeister.
Jellison said that 11 human DNA samples had been extracted when the investigation started 30 years ago. Eight of those samples were identified and matched, leaving three remaining. Jellison takes office in January and wants to make identifying the remaining individuals one of his first orders of business.
“These people were on a shelf for 26 years,” Jellison said. “They were forgotten, they’re no longer forgotten.”
Jellison said in the press release that he hopes advances in DNA technology could help identify additional remains but said he needs help from the community.
“If you had a relative, a loved one, that was missing from the mid-80s to middle 90s,” he said. “I need you to come forward and provide us with DNA.”
“It’s just a cheek swab,” he added. “It takes just a few seconds. You can come to us, we’ll come to you, but we need those swabs. Without those, we’re not going to go anywhere with this investigation.”