Decades later, killing spree victims remain unidentified
Larry Eyler and his horrific killing spree are as unforgettable as the faces of his still nameless victims.
"I think about them every day, said Newton County Coroner Scott McCord. "They are in my office. They are referred to as my kids."
Bones, dental records, DNA results and other crime scene evidence are clues to a mystery that McCord has labored years to solve.
"If my kids went missing today I would hunt for them until the day I died," said McCord. "But somebody has to miss them."
30 years ago, the Newton County Coroner was about the same age as the young men found buried in the farm country of Newton and Jasper Counties.
In the early 80's, dozens of young men living on the fringe of society disappeared. Hitchhikers, male prostitutes. Their remains were later found in shallow graves near interstate exits and along state highways.
In 1983, it seemed as if bodies were being found every other week in these fields. Dozens of lawmen scattered from Chicago to Terre Haute to Indianapolis and even as far away as Ohio struggled to compare notes, connect the dots and end the carnage.
A special police task force eventually caught up with Larry Eyler, an Indiana handyman who split his time between Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Chicago.
Convicted of one murder and sentenced to death, Eyler confessed with remarkable detail to 22 brutal killings.
"Larry confessed to picking them up along the road," said McCord. "They were hitchhiking" in the Terre Haute area.
Post mortem exams and a forensic artist show what 2 of the men probably looked like.
Victim one: white, 17-to-23 years old, between 5-2 and 5-9. He had crude tattoos of a cross and a rectangle on his right arm.
Victim two: African American, 15 to 18-years-old, 5-8 to 6-2. He wore a gold "jeans" belt buckle and belt with "devil" stitched in red.
There's no sketch of victim three, but the white man carried a lighter engraved with "Arlene", was in his mid-20's, 5-6 to 5-8 with long reddish hair.
"They are someone's son, someone's brother," McCord said.
Someone's friend, someone's student. Yet after sending flyers and information to hundreds of communities, McCord has heard from no one, received not one good lead.
"None yet," said McCord. "These kids will be home. I will get them home. I want their parents to bury them."
And after all these years, peacefully lay to rest a painful, undying mystery.
You can find more about the men investigators are trying to identify and who to call if you recognize them.
Indiana State Police
Can You Identify Me