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Cadaver dogs scour suspected serial killer's former Westfield property in renewed push to find remains

Cadaver dogs found several areas Sunday where investigators will check further for human remains. Those areas are marked with red flags.

WESTFIELD, Ind. — Police renewed an effort Sunday to find human remains at Fox Hollow Farm in Westfield, where the decomposed and charred remains of at least two dozen people were found 26 years ago. 

For the first time, cadaver dogs on Sunday searched the property that once belonged to suspected serial killer Herb Baumeister. They did it because many of Baumeister's victims have never been identified. 

Investigators believe Baumeister targeted gay men, killing at least 25 people in the 1990s. In 1996, police found 10,000 bone fragments in the woods surrounding his home. 

To date, eight victims have been identified. But, over the past 15 years, the current owner of Fox Hollow Farm has found more bones and bone fragments.

"We don't go looking for them, but they do turn up and I take them to the University of Indianapolis," said Robert Graves, who has lived on the property for the last 15 years. 

He turns them over to the university's forensic anthropology lab where they sit, joining the 10,000 others without identification.

Credit: WTHR
At least 17 victims' remains were found at Herbert Baumeister's home on the grounds of Fox Hollow Farm in 1996.

Investigators hope Sunday's search will help crack the case and bring closure to families. 

Eleven cadaver dogs from Indiana Canine Search and Recovery scoured dozens of acres looking for even more bone fragments. 

The dogs are trained to detect the odor of human remains. A change in behavior lets the handlers know they've spotted something. 

Dogs found several areas on Sunday where investigators will check further. Those areas are marked with red flags. 

Investigators say it's a painstaking but incredibly important process to give families of missing loved ones some healing.

"These are missing people. These remains represent people. They represent someone's family member," Chief Deputy and Coroner-elect Jeff Jellison said. "And, if we can recover additional remains, work to identify those remains, and then get some closure for some family members that don't know what happened to their loved one."

Sunday's search is just the beginning of a much larger process of identifying Baumeister's victims, and the coroner's office is asking for families of missing loved ones to come forward. 

Jellison said they need people with male family members who went missing from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s to submit DNA to see if they can find a match to some of the remains. 

"The process is quick, simple, and only involves swabbing the inside of the cheek," Jellison said.

And he's pleading for people to do it. Without it, he says, the investigation could easily go cold.

"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. 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."

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.


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