Pursuit of I-70 serial killer piques KMOV team’s interest in haunted Indiana mansion
CARMEL, Ind. (KMOV) -- There are ghost trips, and then there are really ghost trips.
Carmel, Indiana sits just north of Indianapolis. In Carmel, ghost hunters annually flock to Fox Hollow Farms, considered one of the spookiest places in America. For $10 you might hear voices. Footsteps may be following you. Visitors have reported feeling punched and pinched. One even felt they were being choked.
It’s certainly possible. After all, this is where Herb Baumeister called home.
After Robin Fuldauer was found murdered in broad daylight in a busy Indianapolis shoe store, and without many leads, detectives began scrambling. There was no vehicle sighting. One witness described seeing what he thought was a homeless man in the area. Another saw a hitchhiker. Someone saw a man running. None of them proved fruitful.
Then the phone rang.
The killer had struck again, just three days later, killing two females -- 700 miles away in Wichita. Ballistics from both crime scenes matched. The gun was the same. The crime scenes were similar: A small store in a strip mall and women with brunette hair. Police in those two cities suddenly had a serial killer on their hands. But how, so close together, and so far apart?
Police were certainly no longer looking for a homeless man or a hitchhiker. Some thought he must have been a truck driver to make that long haul trip. But where was his rig? It certainly wasn’t parked in any strip mall. The phantom killer appeared and disappeared into thin air.
Detectives only had one thing to go on -- were there any other serial killer cases in their midst?
Just a little over a month before the 1-70 killing spree began, Donald Waterhouse shot and killed his parents inside their Dyersburg, Tennessee home. That might not seem like a connection, but as police followed hundreds of leads, it was soon apparent that Waterhouse bore a striking resemblance to the composite sketch, and like the I-70 victims, he shot them in the head with a .22 caliber weapon. After the shooting, Waterhouse fled, and headed north. His truck was later found abandoned in East St. Louis, right off I-70. He would not be captured until October, six months after the 1-70 murders, placing him in the Midwest during the time of the killings. Investigators in Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee all began trading information of Waterhouse.
Then there was Donald Blom.
He also matched the composite sketch, owned a .22 semi caliber weapon, and had a long rap sheet. In 1975, Blom was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 14-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 40 years. He served three. After numerous run-ins with the law, in 1992, the year of the I-70 killings, a psychologist warned that Blom had the potential for “potentially devastating results” if he wasn’t supervised by a mental health professional. In 2000, he was convicted of murdering a 19-year-old girl in Minnesota and is currently serving a life sentence without parole. Police have always suspected he is a serial killer.
Neal Falls was pulled over by police in 20 states. In the spring of 1992, he was living in Greensburg, Kansas, about 100 miles west of Wichita. Falls was obsessed with military paraphernalia. He matched the early police composite sketch. Police would question him about the murders but had no physical evidence to connect him. Falls would be killed during a struggle with a prostitute after holding her at gunpoint. After his death, police searched his car and found bulletproof vests, a machete, plastic trash bag, axes, a shovel, knives, bleach, and a sledgehammer. They were able to link those items to the murders and disappearances of nine women in three states, including Illinois.
But the big fish in the pond was sitting right in their backyard.
Born in 1947, Herb Baumeister struggled from the start. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager. Friends recall him playing with dead animals and bringing them to school. He would attend Indiana University but dropped out. His father then had him committed to a mental institution. When Baumeister was released, he landed a job at the Indianapolis Star, and then the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. That ended abruptly when it was discovered Baumeister urinated on a letter that was to be sent to the Indiana governor. Baumeister would marry his wife Julie, have three children, borrow money from his mother, and open a Save-A-Lot store. Business soon boomed, and he opened a second store. Herb Baumeister was not only on his way to becoming a millionaire, he became an important man in the community. Baumeister purchased Fox Hollow Farms, set on 18 acres of wooded land. He lived in an 11,000-square-foot Tudor-style mansion, with an indoor swimming pool and riding stable. Herb Baumeister was living the rags-to-riches American Dream.
Except it was really a nightmare.
When his wife was out of town, Baumeister would frequent gay bars, going by the name of Brian Smart, and bring men back to his home. By the early 1990s, gay men began disappearing in the Indianapolis area. They seemed to have similar age, height, and weight. Police got a tip claiming that a gay bar patron calling himself Brian Smart had killed a man. They were given a license plate number and traced it to Baumeister. Investigators went to search his home, but Julie denied them access. That changed later when one of the Baumeister children found a skull while playing in the woods of Fox Hollow Farms. Julie went to the woods, where she found a pile of human bones. When she questioned Herb about it, he claimed it was a medical skeleton that his father, a doctor, had given him years ago.
The Save-A-Lot business started to suffer, and so did the Baumeister marriage. And now, Julie began to wonder. With her husband out of town on a business trip, she called police back. They could search Fox Hollow Farms. It didn’t take long. Within days, more than 5,000 bones were found. Bones and body parts barely covered with leaves sat just 50 feet behind Baumeister’s mansion. Eleven bodies were discovered. It was a mass disaster scene. Besides those on his estate, Baumeister is suspected of killing at least nine more men along Interstate 70 between Indiana and Ohio, starting in the Indianapolis area. Julie Baumeister told police her husband made hundreds of business trips from Indianapolis to Ohio, using Interstate 70. In all, authorities now say Baumeister may be tied to nearly 30 murders around the Midwest. You had a serial killer, in the early 90′s, starting in Indianapolis, with bodies strewn along Interstate 70. It was enough to pique the interest of investigators, even with the different sexes of the victims. Baumeister was slightly taller than the composite sketch of the serial killer, but the weight may have matched, as might his light hair and boyish face. But there was no suspect to search for. Baumeister fled to Canada. He left behind a suicide note but made no mention of the killings. He said he was going to eat a peanut butter sandwich and go to sleep. He then put a .357 Magnum to his forehead and pulled the trigger.
Fox Hollow Farms was put up for sale. Eventually, it sold for a third of its asking price. It’s a tourist attraction today, where you can hear voices and footsteps, get punched and pinched. You might even get choked.
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