There are people in this world that if you learned they were a serial killer you would think, that isn’t surprising, they look like one. And then there are others that when you learn they did despicable crimes you are shocked thinking they seemed so wholesome, how could they have done something like that. And that is why they can get away with it for as long as they do. And that brings us to Herb Baumeister.
Herbert was the eldest child and had a relatively normal childhood but during adolescence he began to exhibit some troubling behaviors; anti-social behavior and playing with dead animals, it was also stated that he had urinated on a teacher’s desk. During his teen years he was diagnosed with schizophrenia but did not receive further treatment for it.
Herb attended both Indiana University and Butler University but never graduated from either school. He had a strong work ethic but drifted through a series of jobs. It is noted that his behavior became increasingly bizarre.
In 1971 Herb married Juliana “Julie” Saiter. They would have three children. Julie admitted later that they had been married over 25 years and had only been sexually intimate six times. In 1988, Herb had found the Sav-A-Lot store chain (a total of 2) in the Indianapolis area.
By the early 1990s, investigators with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and the Indianapolis Police Department began investigating the disappearances of gay men of similar age, height, and weight in the Indianapolis area.
Herb lured his victims by visiting bars and inviting gay men to spend the night with him. He then traveled back to his home where he would kill his victim. Although he was married and had children, his crimes happened at a time in his life when his marriage was supposedly in shambles. There were times when his wife Julie and their three children would leave the property for days, leaving Herb to do as he pleased. He had never admitted he was gay, but Julie suspected due to their non-existent sex life.
Roger Goodlet vanished and besides his family nobody seemed to care. In the early 1990’s a gay man didn’t get much attention from police. Tony Harris was a friend to Roger and was helping the family locate him. He put up missing posters in the gay bars and at one bar he noticed a man staring at the poster and licking his lips.
Gathering his courage, Tony approached the man, intuitively knowing that this man knew something. The man introduced himself as Brian Smart.
Even though he suspected Brian knew something Tony agreed to leave with him, and they eventually arrived at an estate that Brian said belonged to his boss, Fox Hollow Farm.
Engaging in sexual activity in the indoor pool, Brian said he especially enjoyed autoerotic asphyxiation and liked to take men to the brink of death, watching their eyes bulge, and their lips crack. Tony was now sure that Brian Smart was killing gay men in the Indianapolis area.
Tony told Brian that he knew he was behind the missing men and that he was going to go to the police. Brian laughed and said nobody would believe him. He had gotten away with it before, why would this instance be any different. Brian said that there was very little effort by the police, mainly because there were no leads. Brian was cocky, but he made a mistake. He didn’t kill Tony.
Tony did contact the police and they attempted to locate the property, or any homes owned by Brian Smart. Tony did see Brian again leaving a bar and Tony followed him and got his license plate number. The police were able to identify the man as Herbert Baumeister.
Police visited Herb at one of his stores and this shook him, heightening their suspicions. When they asked if they could search his property, he refused. The police then went to his wife and told her they were investigating her husband in a homosexual homicide.
Julie was angry and defended her husband, she stated if they wanted to search the property she would give them a tour, just as soon as they presented a search warrant. Police only had circumstantial evidence, and not enough for a warrant.
It wasn’t long after this that Julie and Herb’s life began to crumble. The thrift stores were failing, and Herb was becoming more and more unpredictable, Julie filed for divorce. She wanted answers over the allegations with her husband.
There was a crucial piece of information that Julie had kept from the police but had told her attorney. A few years before this all started, her son had found a skull in their backyard and carried it inside to show his mom. She went outside and found even more bones.
Her attorney contacted police with the information, and they went out to Fox Hollow Farm and were finally able to do a search of the property. There were bones scattered all over the place. The large bones were further back in the woods while the smaller bones were directly behind the house and had been burned.
The search was conducted while Herb was on vacation. It turned up the remains of eleven men, eight of whom were identified.
The eight identified victims were:
- John Lee Bayer, age 20
- Richard Douglas Hamilton, age 20
- Steven S. Hale, age 26
- Allen Wayne Broussard, age 28
- Jeffrey A Jones, age 31
- Manuel Resendez, age 31
- Roger Allen Goodlet, age 33
- Michael Frederick Kiern, age 46
The deaths occurred during the spring and summer months only, Herb’s season to kill, mainly because his wife and children would be away from the house at their lake house, and he was all alone. If it wasn’t for Tony Harris taking the chance of leaving the bar with Baumeister, then who knows how long the killing would have continued.
With a warrant out for his arrest, Baumeister fled to Ontario, where he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. In his suicide note, he described his failing marriage and business as his reason for killing himself. He did not confess to the murders of the men found in his backyard.
Police estimate that Herb Baumeister could have killed up to 27, he told Tony Harris it was closer to 50. Herb Baumeister was also believed to be the I-70 strangler referring to the stretch of highway where the bodies of another 9 men were found during the mid-’80s.
Be strong, make good choices, stay safe