Unsolved 2001 homicide leads investigators working on I-70 serial killer case to Missouri man

Investigators look at similar killings that could be linked to the I-70 spree.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 3:21 PM CST
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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (KMOV) - When the killings stopped after 29 days, police were perplexed. Did the killer have his fill? Did he kill himself? Maybe he was arrested for another crime and was sitting in a jailhouse somewhere. Perhaps he found love, got married, and began a new life.

Years went by. Then word came from Terre Haute, again.

Less than a mile down the road from Sylvia’s Ceramics shop, where Michael McCown was murdered, sat the 7th & 70 Liquor Store on Prairieton Road. You can see the store from Interstate 70. And on the day after Thanksgiving in 2001, nearly 10 years after the I-70 killings, a man entered the liquor store around 6:30 p.m., then shot and killed Billy Brossman who was working behind the counter. At first, it appeared to be a random, routine robbery homicide scene.

“I was the first responding officer on this case,” said Terre Haute police detective Brad Rumsey. “You walk in on something like that, it sticks with you. Back then I never thought it would turn into a cold case.”

Surveillance images released by the City of Terre Haute showing the suspect sought in...
Surveillance images released by the City of Terre Haute showing the suspect sought in connection with Billy Brossman's murder.(KMOV)

Especially after police looked at surveillance footage. It was crystal clear.

The video tape showed the killer entering the store, grabbing some beer, then approaching the counter. He then quickly pulled a gun on Brossman, who turned over the cash register. The killer then grabbed a few bills, forced Brossman to the back of the store, where he shot him once in the head, killing him instantly. He then ran from the store, leaving the beer and the rest of the money on the counter.

Detectives kept asking themselves, what killer leaves money behind? If his motive wasn’t robbery, what was it? And then they remembered the I-70 killer from a decade before, who killed for the thrill of killing. They compared the surveillance video to the I-70 composite sketch. The similarities were remarkable.

Besides matching the composite, the surveillance tape gave detectives other clues: they noticed the killer appeared to be wearing a wedding ring. And if you listen closely, you can hear the two men speaking on the tape. But fingerprints on the beer and cash register were too small to trace. When the surveillance tape was shown in the media, tips came in. Police had leads. But they had no clue it might blossom into the I-70 killer.

They had a name. With a possible ID, Investigators kept digging. Two people, claiming they knew the suspect, both said they were nearly certain who it was. Police later found other friends of the suspect who agreed with the earlier pair. But the tips alone were not enough. They tracked the suspect down and found him living in Missouri. He told police he worked for a large department store and traveled the country doing remodeling jobs for them.

Had he ever been to Terre Haute, police asked?

Yes, the suspect said. Sometime in 2001.

Police had their suspect. Detectives from Terre Haute met with detectives from the other I-70 cities to compare notes. But they never had enough to move forward. Years would go by. They would meet with the suspect again, this time getting a DNA sample. But they could not get a match. News 4 has learned that arrest warrants were applied for in the Brossman homicide. But authorities felt there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward. But they are not giving up. The I-70 case file sits on Rumsey’s desk now. And Investigators are cautious to publicly make any connection between the cases at this point.

“It’s unknown at this time if it’s connected to the I-70 killer cases,” said Rumsey. “But there are similarities. It’s at least worth looking. But it would be premature to say absolutely this is part of that case. We have developed possible information on who that person is. We are working on that case separately from the I-70 case. Not in tandem. They are being investigated separately, but in our minds, there are similarities. One day there might be a way we can connect the two. But at this point we cannot definitely do that.”

And thus, the question looms: if the I-70 killer did indeed strike nearly 10 years later in a similar fashion, is it possible he has struck elsewhere in the past 30 years?

Victims Patricia Magers (top left), Patricia Smith (top center), Nancy Kitzmiller (top right),...
Victims Patricia Magers (top left), Patricia Smith (top center), Nancy Kitzmiller (top right), Robin Fuldauer (bottom left), Michael McCown (bottom center), and Sarah Blessing (bottom right).(KMOV)

“No one has contacted us,” Rumsey said. “I’ve been reaching out to other agencies to see if they have any cold cases that are similar to ours. It’s something you have to look at. When you consider someone killing that many people in a short time span you have to worry that he’s continued to do so somewhere else at other times and maybe it’s been missed.”

Terre Haute homicide detective Troy Davis is confident the cases will eventually be solved.

“You work these cases until you cannot work them anymore. We won’t give up. I truly believe that the I-70 killings will be solved.”

Terre Haute Police Chief Shawn Keen agrees.

“I think it’s in you. If you are an investigator, it’s in you. It’s something you just can’t set aside, and you can’t stop thinking about it when you go home.”

So, the question remains: Could the I-70 killer have returned, nearly 10 years later, near the scene of one of his earlier killings, to kill again? Could he be same man who killed Michael McCown down the street, Robin Fuldauer in Indianapolis, Patricia Magers and Patricia Smith in Wichita, Nancy Kitzmiller in St. Charles, and Sarah Blessing in Raytown?

According to multiple police sources connected to both investigations, they believe the answer to that question is yes, he certainly could be.