In the early 1990s, men began disappearing from the Indianapolis area. In 1994, a retired sheriff, Vandagriff, who had opened up a private investigation firm, was contacted by 28 year old Alan Broussard’s mother, who said he was missing. About a week later, he was contacted again about a disappearance, this time by the mother of 32 year old Roger Goodlet. They both had been on the way to well known local gay bars when their mothers last saw them. Because of this connection, their missing posters were distributed at gay bars around the city. He was working hard to find these men and received a tip from a magazine publisher who informed him that there were actually several gay men who had gone missing over the last few years. He took the information to police, believing that they were dealing with a serial killer, but was brushed off and said they had probably left willingly to go places where they could practice their lifestyles more freely. It’s implied that perhaps their parents were not supportive of their sexuality, so taking that and the fact that it’s the early 1990s in the height of the AIDs epidemic where treatment of gay men was not ideal to say the least, it’s unfortunately not surprising that police weren’t very eager to find out what was happening to these men.
Since police wouldn’t do anything, Vandagriff continued his own investigation and learned of an ongoing investigation just over state lines in Ohio. There had been multiple bodies dumped along interstate I-70. He discovered that like the men he was looking for, these victims were all gay. Of the bodies found dumped, four were from Indianapolis. He is sure that there is more going on than police will admit and this is further confirmed when a man who is referred to as Tony, but wanted to remain anonymous, so we don’t know his real name, reached out to Vandagriff with a tip.
Tony said that he had contacted police and FBI, but they brushed him off, so when he saw the missing persons posters Vandagriff had posted, he thought if he told him what he knew, maybe something would happen. The story is a little on the long side, but I feel like there isn’t really anything to trim out of it in order to understand everything. Thoughtco.com has an article about this case where they tell the story he told Vandagriff, so Tina, I’m going to have you read it.
“Tony said he was at a gay club when he noticed another man who seemed overly captivated by the missing person’s poster of his friend, Roger Goodlet. As he continued to watch the man, something in his eyes convinced Tony that the man had information about Goodlet’s disappearance. To try to learn more, Tony introduced himself. The man said his name was Brian Smart and he was a landscaper from Ohio. When Tony tried to bring up Goodlet, Smart became evasive.
As the evening progressed, Smart invited Tony to join him for a swim at a house where he was temporarily living, doing landscaping for the new owners, who were away. Tony agreed and got into Smart’s Buick, which had Ohio plates. Tony was not familiar with northern Indianapolis, so he could not say where the house was, though he described the area as having horse ranches and large homes. He also described a split-rail fence and a sign that read “Farm” something. The sign was at the front of the driveway that Smart had turned into.
Tony described a large Tudor home, which he and Smart entered through a side door. He described the interior of the home as being packed with furniture and boxes. He followed Smart through the house and down steps to the bar and pool area, which had mannequins set up around the pool. Smart offered Tony a drink, which he turned down.
Smart excused himself and when he returned he was a lot more talkative. Tony suspected that he had snorted cocaine. At some point, Smart brought up autoerotic asphyxiation (receiving sexual pleasure while choking or being choked) and asked Tony to do it to him. Tony went along and choked Smart with a hose while he masturbated.
Smart then said it was his turn to do it to Tony. Again, Tony went along, and as Smart began choking him, it became obvious that he was not going to let go. Tony pretended to pass out, and Smart released the hose. When he opened his eyes, Smart became rattled and said he was scared because Tony had passed out.”
I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t understand why police would brush this off so quickly with everything else going on with the bodies and missing men.
Oddly enough, Tony and Smart actually agreed to meet again the following week. I assume this is probably because Tony still thought he could have answers about what had happened to his friend, but not a good idea regardless. Vandagriff fortunately took his story much more seriously than the police did and made arrangements for someone to follow the men at this second meet up, but Smart must have changed his mind because he never showed up. At this point, Vandagriff reached out to Detective Mary Wilson whom he respected who drove Tony around trying to locate the estate Smart had taken him to. Unfortunately, he came up empty and it seemed the investigation came to a stand still.
A year later, Tony was at a bar and as luck would have it, spotted the man he had known as Brian Smart. He managed to get his license plate and passed it along to the detective Vandagriff had put him in contact with a year prior. She ran the plates and saw they were registered to a man named Herb Baumeister. (Not Brian Smart)
So who is Herb? He was born Herbert Richard Baumeister on April 7, 1947. His father was an anesthesiologist and had 3 more children after him with his wife Elizabeth. He was described as a sweet, sensitive, happy-go-lucky kid. Until he reached puberty, that is. His personality drastically changed and he started doing and saying things that were pretty concerning and disturbing to those around him.
There are a number of things that influenced this transition, so I’ll tell you about the most prominent things. For one, he developed a fascination with death. He developed a morbid sense of humor, which in and of itself isn’t the most unheard of thing, Jennifer will tell you Tina and I have been known to go off the deep end with morbid jokes, but Herb took it a step further – ok, more than a step. He once put a dead crow on his teacher’s desk. It is said that he found the crow on the side of the road, but it was also commonly known that he enjoyed and was aroused by playing with dead animals and squeezing them to feel the power of crushing their bones. Knowing this, I’m not 100% convinced that he simply found the dead crow on the side of the road. He also made comments wondering about what urine would taste like and followed this up by chasing other boys around, asking for a drink. It was also rumored that at one point he urinated on a teacher’s desk. Understandably, his peers started distancing themselves from him.
With all of this going on, his teachers did reach out to his parents to make them aware of what was going on. They had also started to notice changes in him, so his father sent him for an evaluation. This resulted in him being diagnosed with schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. So it sounds like they’re taking steps to help him, right? Well, unfortunately it stopped there. While he was diagnosed with these disorders, it’s unclear what they did for him after the diagnoses and it is said that they didn’t seek treatment for him.
In 1965, he decided to attend college at Indiana University. Unfortunately, he continued to be an outcast and ended up dropping out after only one semester. His father really wanted him to get a college education, so in 1967 he returned to study anatomy. This stint in college lasted even less than the first and he dropped out without even making it through a semester. In this short time he managed to meet a girl named Juliana (Julie) Saiter who was a high school journalism teacher and was taking classes part time at the college. Despite all his trouble with socialization, he managed to get Julie to date him. They both had similar goals and values. They both were interested in cars and had goals to someday have their own businesses. They also were both extremely conservative and members of the Young Republicans of IU.
They got married in 1971 and 6 months into the marriage, Herb’s father had him committed to a mental institution for two months. I’m not sure what made him decide to have him committed, but it shows that people around him were aware he was struggling with things. This didn’t affect his marriage with Julie (outwardly at least) and they ended up having three kids.
While Herb never completed college, he still worked to support his family. At one point, his father helped him get a job at the Indianapolis Star as a copy boy. He was very driven and hardworking, but he got on his coworkers nerves and eventually quit. He then got a job at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles where his strong work ethic helped him work his way up to program director. Even though he was a hard worker and progressed his position, his coworkers once again didn’t like him. They tried to avoid him and viewed him as an oddball who made them uncomfortable and had occasional outbursts over small insignificant things, but viewed him as harmless for the most part. This position eventually ended as well when he was fired in 1985 for urinating on a letter addressed to the Governor of Indiana.
Over the next couple years he was arrested several times for things like drinking and driving, stealing a friend’s car, and even for involvement in a hit and run. He didn’t end up spending any time in prison and got out of all the charges. It’s not clear on how he got out of these charges, but I have a feeling his father was involved as he was such a respected doctor in the area.
At this point it was pretty clear that he wasn’t finding a new job anytime soon, so Julie went back to work as a teacher and Herb took on the role of full time dad. I’m curious, knowing his history, whether you guys think he would do well as a full time dad or struggle with it and digress.
Surprisingly, he actually showed a whole other side of himself and was essentially another person. He didn’t struggle with being volatile and unpredictable like he had when working. He was actually caring, patient, and by all accounts seemed to appear to enjoy being a dad.
So things are going well, and if you remember, one of the things that brought Herb and Julie together was their dream of being entrepreneurs. So in 1988, they decided to open up a thrift shop named Sav-a-Lot. The business was so successful that after the first year they opened a second store. By 1991, only 3 years later, they were rich. They took their fortune and moved to their dream home, an 18 acre horse ranch called Fox Hollow Farms just outside Indianapolis. This mansion had all the things, including a stable and an indoor pool. Julie once described it as a utopia where the kids could “rollerblade without having to worry about cars coming around the corner.” The man who had once been known as the weirdo who urinated on things and played with dead animals was now a respected business and family man who donated thousands of dollars to charities and seemed to be living a dream life.
So it all seems like it’s on the up and up, but we wouldn’t be telling this story if that were the end of it. While from the outside looking in it seemed he had shook the *reputation (what word am I thinking of?) of his teenage years, in reality he had just learned how to hide his *again what word am I looking for >_<.
When it came to their perfect home, it had become a mess both inside and out, being overgrown with weeds and housekeeping being a low priority. The one area he kept clean was the poolhouse, where he kept the wet bar stocked and filled the area with “extravagant” decor. This is a weird one and I don’t know if it has something to do with his desire to have more friends or make up for his lack of friends growing up, but he had a bunch of mannequins that he would dress up and position to make it look like a lavish pool party filled with guests.
Another thing going on behind the scenes was tension in Herb and Julie’s marriage. It is said that from the time they first opened their first thrift store, Herb treated Julie like an employee rather than equal and yelled at her frequently. She tried to keep the peace and figured it was best to take a step back from business decisions and while this helped with the yelling, it obviously took a toll on the marriage as feelings festered. They also began struggling with money after opening the second store. Bills were piling up and Herb started drinking again due to the stress. Because of all this, Julie would frequently take the kids to stay at Herb’s mother’s condo by Lake Wawasee while he stayed behind and took care of the stores.
What Julie didn’t know was that while she was gone he was cruising Indianopolis’ gay scene. He would bring men back to the estate to party, explore his sexuality, and act out his fantasies. If you remember, both Herb and Julie were extremely conservative and this is one of the things that brought them together in the first place. So this sexual exploration with members of the same sex probably would not have sat well with Julie. From everything I read, it seemed as though she had no idea what activities he was keeping himself entertained with while she was gone.
If you haven’t figured it out already, Brian Smart never existed and was simply the name Herb would give to people he met while cruising. After they tied the car to him, Detective Wilson confronted him at his store to inform him that he was a suspect in an investigation of several missing men. She asked him for permission to search his home and he told her no and that if she wanted anything else she would need to go through his lawyer. *Discuss*
After asking Herb didn’t get her access to his home, she moved onto Julie who also refused. I was a bit surprised by this after knowing about the issues they were having, but she stood by him regardless. Her next move was to attempt a search warrant, which was also turned down due to a lack of evidence. We’ve hit a brick wall again and over the next 6 months, Herb spiraled and appeared to have a mental breakdown. They were facing bankruptcy and Julie had reached her limit. She decided to file for divorce and reached out to Detective Wilson with an interesting story. She said that two years prior, her son, who was 13 at the time, was playing in a partially wooded area behind their home and found a partially buried skeleton. When she had mentioned it to Herb, he told her that his father had used skeletons in his research and that when he found one in the garage, he buried it. At the time, Julie had believed him and all but forgotten about it. After Detective Wilson had knocked on her door and told her about the case her husband was a suspect in, it came back to her mind and she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it since. Julie also decided to let police search the property.
On June 24,1996 police entered the home and upon looking around the yard, found that what the Baumeister children had thought were small rocks and pebbles, were actually human bones. The following day, they started excavating the property. They found a total of 5,500 bone fragments and teeth. These were thought to be from 11 victims, but only 4 were ever confirmed – Roger Goodlet, Steven Hale, Richard Hamilton, and Manuel Resendez. One of the sources said 8 were identified, but I didn’t find the 4 other names.
While all of this was going on at his home, Herb was at his mother’s lake condo with one of his children, Erich. He was served with custody papers that demanded he return Erich to Julie which he did. Once Erich was safely away from Herb, the discovery of bones was broadcast. Herb promptly disappeared and on July 3rd, his body was discovered in his car where it appeared he had shot himself in the head. He left a three page suicide note explaining why he had killed himself, but didn’t include anything about the men found in his backyard. Julie helped police connect the I-70 murders to Herb through travel receipts and it is assumed that the bodies stopped appearing because they moved to Fox Hollow Farms and he had somewhere he could get rid of the bodies privately. Since he killed himself, police were never able to officially charge him with the murders, so legally he is still only a suspect. Regardless, it’s pretty hard to argue that it could have been someone else. We don’t know exactly how many men he killed, but it is estimated that it was around 20, possibly even 27 which makes him one of the most prolific serial killers in the US.
So we don’t have complete closure, but it is a lot more closure than we’ve had the last few episodes. Come back next week for another episode and don’t forget to like, follow, and leave a 5 star review for us.
Accessed December, 2021, FBI File: https://serialkillersinfo.com/documents/herb-baumeister-fbi-file/
Accessed December, 2021, https://allthatsinteresting.com/herb-baumeister
Accessed December, 2021, https://medium.com/crimebeat/herb-baumeister-and-fox-hollow-farm-8d4f49bb3031
Accessed December, 2021, https://www.thoughtco.com/herbert-richard-baumeister-973121
Accessed December, 2021, https://www.talkmurderwithme.com/blog/2020/4/6/herb-baumeister
Accessed December, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/13/world/canada/toronto-serial-killer-bruce-mcarthur.html
Accessed December, 2021, https://familydoctor.org/boys-and-puberty/
Accessed December, 2021, https://www.maggiedent.com/blog/friendless-teens/
Accessed December, 2021, https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/empowering-teens/teen-friendships/
Accessed December, 2021, http://www.schizophrenia.com/history
Accessed December, 2021, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201209/brief-history-schizophrenia
Accessed December, 2021, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/puberty-adolescent-male
Accessed December, 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354483
Accessed December, 2021, DC Eagle Documentary: 40 Years LGBTQ History in the Nation’s Capital: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHVMgsIftP0