Indiana serial killer’s 18-acre property littered with 10,000 human remains still hides secrets

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An Indiana serial killer’s property was littered with 10,000 “burnt and crushed” skeletal remains that kept many of his victims faceless for decades. 

Herb Baumeister, a successful businessman who was a married father with three children, is believed to have killed at least 25 victims from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.

He hunted mostly gay men in the Indianapolis suburb of Westfield, Indiana, where he lived on an 18-acre property known as Fox Hollow Farm.

Four decades later, authorities are still uncovering secrets buried under the vast property. Jeffrey A. Jones, who was reported missing in 1993, became the latest victim identified by the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office.

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Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison renewed the investigation into the thousands of human remains that law enforcement recovered from Baumeister’s property after his death in 1996.

Investigators have four more DNA profiles that haven’t been identified yet, which brings Baumeister’s body count up to 12, according to Jellison. 

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

Jones became Baumeister’s third victim whom the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office identified in the last six months. 

In December 2023, the coroner’s office identified Allen Livingston, who was 27 when he went missing in August 1993, and Manuel Resendez in January. Resendez was 34 when he seemingly vanished in 1996. 

Baumeister and his family moved into the now-infamous, $1 million Indiana home in May 1988. 

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He used the vast area and adjacent trail to hide thousands of decomposed remains, charred bone fragments and the human skull that was unearthed by Baumeister’s teenage son, who showed his mom (Baumeister’s wife). 

That was the beginning of the end of Baumeister’s reign of terror.

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Baumeister’s wife, who initially blocked law enforcement from searching their property, ultimately divorced Herb as it became clearer that he was a wanted killer. 

Authorities searched the property while Baumeister wasn’t home, and dug up the remains of several victims. 

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By 1996, there was a warrant out for his arrest, so he fled to Ontario, where he shot himself. He was 49 when he died. 

He was never charged with the murders, and he didn’t admit to any crimes in his suicide note. 

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While he was alive, Baumeister lived a double life, a common trait among serial killers, according to a 2005 report by the FBI. 

In one life, he was a seemingly ordinary husband and dad. He went to work and came home. 

In his secret life, law enforcement has said Baumeister went by the fake name of “Brian Smart” and mostly targeted young, gay men whom he met in bars. 

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“The majority of serial killers are not reclusive, social misfits who live alone,” the 2005 FBI report says. “They are not monsters and may not appear strange. Many serial killers hide in plain sight within their communities.

“Serial murderers often have families and homes, are gainfully employed and appear to be normal members of the community. Because many serial murderers can blend in so effortlessly, they are oftentimes overlooked by law enforcement and the public,” the report continues. 

The Hamilton County coroner’s office is still sifting through the remains. 

The FBI, Indiana State Police Laboratory, Dr. Krista Latham of the Biology & Anthropology Department at the University of Indianapolis and DNA experts from Texas-based Othram Lab were all instrumental in helping to identify the remains. 

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Othram, which is the largest forensic genetic genealogy lab in the country, partnered with the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office last year to bring closure to Baumeister’s victims.

“Othram scientists developed a comprehensive DNA profile for the unknown man using Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing.” Othram said in a statement. “After successfully completing the process, the DNA profile was delivered to the FBI’s forensic genetic genealogy team and the FBI team performed the necessary genealogical research to generate new investigative leads in the case.”