Herb Baumeister was the founder of the Sav-a-Lot chain of thrift stores in Indianapolis and a married man with three children and a tudor-style McMansion in the Indianapolis suburb of Westfield. Though there was some coverage of the gruesome graveyard discovery in the Baumeisters’ backyard in 1996, the public, and the media, never got to have a circus around his trial and imprisonment because he offed himself right around the time the police started digging up bodies. But yes, Herb had a habit of bringing men home while the wifey was out of town, jacking off with them, and “accidentally” killing them.
Clues That This Guy Was Fucked Up
Appearance: an upright, clean-cut Midwesterner with a bad haircut and a habit of occasionally urinating on people’s desks; a bit of a social oddball who was alternately diagnosed, in his youth, as both schizophrenic and as having “compulsive personality disorder.” Kept a bunch of mannequins in the basement “for company”; and once sent a Christmas card to coworkers showing him and a male friend in drag.
Relationship History: Married for twenty-five years to a nice gal named Julie, who tried to suck it up and deal with the fact that she and Herb only had sex six times, and that she never saw her husband naked.
Jail Time: None. For some fucked up reason, after police already had strong suspicions about Baumeister’s involvement in the disappearance of men from gay bars throughout the early 90s, they couldn’t get a warrant to search the Baumeister’s property and it took them six months to get permission from Julie Baumeister to come onto the property. The Baumeisters’ son had unearthed an entire, partially buried human skeleton at one point in the woods behind the house, but Herb had managed to pass this off as a discarded “dissecting skeleton” and Julie had, up until June of 1996, believed him.
What Got Him Off: Autoerotic asphyxiation, possibly in combination with cocaine–Baumeister is suspected of having strangled all of his victims while trying to get them off, generally in the basement by the indoor pool, during summer vacations when his wife and kids were away. It’s unclear whether this was always on purpose, but it seems he had a hidden video camera that he probably used to tape all of these encounters, the murders included. Tony Harris, a friend of victim Roger Goodlet, met Baumeister at a gay bar a few months after the disappearance of his friend, and decided to go home with him. Strangely, he went through the whole jack-off-strangle ritual with him, and faked passing out. Baumeister whispered his name, and when Harris opened his eyes and smiled, Baumeister scolded him like a schoolmarm and said, “Accidents do happen.” Harris confronted him about the murder of his friend but Baumeister calmly said he didn’t know what Harris was talking about, and drove him home.
Not Really That Nice: After digging up a total of eleven remains (mostly in the form of burned and hacked up bone fragments, some with handcuffs) on the Baumeisters’ and a neighboring property, police tried to contact Baumeister, but he had already fled to Canada. Within a few days, on July 3, 1996, Herb wrote a suicide note that mentioned nothing about the murders, ate a peanut butter sandwich, and shot himself in the head. The pile of videotapes which a Canadian police officer had seen in the backseat of his car a few days earlier, were gone.
Before long investigators connected Baumeister to the string of unsolved highway murders by the “I-70 Killer,” which mostly involved gay hitchhikers and which occurred throughout the 80s when Herb was doing a lot of traveling between Columbus and Indianapolis, along I-70. Given the numbers of identified and unidentified victims, Baumeister may have killed between 50 and 60 men in total.
Oh, and they’re still matching bodies to the Baumeister case to this day.
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