WESTFIELD, Ind — Hamilton County Coroner-elect Jeff Jellison — who is leading the renewed push to identify the victims of a suspected serial killer — said without DNA swabs from people with lost loved ones, the case could run cold.
In 1996, about 10,000 bone fragments were found in the woods surrounding Fox Hollow Farm, the former home of Herbert Baumeister. He's accused of killing dozens of gay men in the 1990s, but was never convicted of those crimes because he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound shortly after the investigation started.
To date, eight victims have been identified. But, over the past 15 years, the thousands of other charred and decomposed remains belonging to at least 17 other people have sat at an Indianapolis lab, with more and more bone fragments being found and added to the collection over the years.
Because the bones have been damaged, it's making it harder for investigators to get a DNA profile from the fragments.
Investigators believe they can break through this brick wall in the case with a little help from the public.
"We can find remains and we can do DNA testing on those remains but unless we have a comparison sample from a family member? Then our investigation is going to come to a halt pretty quickly," Jellison said. "We need the public's help."
Jellison said they desperately need people with missing loved ones to submit DNA to see if they can find a match to some of the remains.
"If someone had a family member, a loved one, a friend, whatever, go missing in the middle '80s to middle '90s, I need you to come forward. I need to talk to you," Jellison said.
Jellison said the process is "quick, simple, and only involves swabbing the inside of the cheek."
And the stakes are high because without that DNA, Jellison said, Baumeister's alleged victims could quite possibly never be identified.
If you had a male relative go missing in the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, you should contact the Hamilton County Coroner's Office at 317-770-4415 for a cheek-swab DNA sample.