NOBLESVILLE, Indiana (AP) — An Indiana coroner’s office is asking relatives of young men who disappeared between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s to submit DNA samples to re-identify human remains found on land once owned by a man was suspected of a series of murdersthe extent of which is still unclear.
More than 10,000 human bones and bone fragments were discovered beginning in the mid-1990s at Fox Hollow Farm, a 18-acre property in Westfield, a Hamilton County city a few miles north of Indianapolis, said Jeff Jellison, the assistant coroner of the county and coroner.
The property’s then-owner, businessman Herbert Baumeister, was 49 when he killed himself in Canada in July 1996 when investigators tried to question him about the remains.
Investigators believed Baumeister, a married father of three who frequented gay bars, had lured men into his home and killed them. By 1999, authorities had linked him to the disappearances of at least 16 men since 1980, including several whose bodies were found in shallow creeks in rural central Indiana and western Ohio.
Jellison said in a press release that investigators believe the 10,000 charred bones and fragments found at Baumeister’s property may represent the remains of at least 25 people.
He said 11 human DNA samples were extracted from the bones during the original investigation in the 1990s. Eight of those people, all young men, were identified and matched to DNA samples, but the three remaining DNA profiles are from unknown individuals, Jellison said.
Jellison, who takes up his post as Hamilton County Coroner in January, said in a press release that it was “unacceptable” that the skeletal remains sat on a shelf for about a quarter of a century. He said: “We must make every effort to identify these people and return them to their loved ones.”
Jellison said the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office is working with the University of Indianapolis Forensic Archeology Laboratory, the Indiana State Police and other law enforcement agencies to determine if some of the remains could be used to create additional DNA profiles.
Jellison said about 100 bones have been identified so far that may be suitable for DNA extraction.
He encourages relatives of young men who went missing from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s to submit a DNA sample to assist in identification efforts. Anyone with a friend who was missing during this time period can also provide tips to investigators, Jellison said.
DNA was a relatively new investigative tool a quarter century ago, but DNA profiling has now become “faster and easier to use,” Jellison said.
“These remains represent people. These people are someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s father. You’re not just a box full of bones. They are human and we need to look into that,” he said.