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More remains identified at suspected serial killer's Indiana estate, now 13 presumed victims

Tracing family trees to catch killers
Inside the genetic genealogy being used to solve crimes 13:49

A renewed effort to identify thousands of bones found at the Indiana estate of a long-deceased businessman suspected in a string of killings has pushed the number of his presumed victims to 13, a coroner said Tuesday, marking another grim update in a case that has spanned decades.

Four new DNA profiles have been obtained through the push to identify the remains and they will be sent to the FBI for a genetic genealogy analysis to hopefully identify them, said Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison.

Nine men were previously identified as presumed victims of Herb Baumeister, who killed himself in Canada in July 1996 as investigators sought to question him after about 10,000 charred bones and bone fragments were found at his sprawling estate, Fox Hollow Farm.

Jellison said investigators believe the bones and fragments could represent the remains of at least 25 people.

"We know that we have at this point 13 victims found on the Fox Hollow Farm property," Jellison said Tuesday.

Investigators believe Baumeister, a married father of three who frequented gay bars, lured men to his home and killed them at his estate in Westfield, about 16 miles north of Indianapolis.

In 2022, Jellison launched a renewed effort to match Baumeister's other potential victims to the thousands of charred, crushed bones and fragments that authorities found on his estate in the 1990s and then placed into storage.

"Because many of the remains were found burnt and crushed, this investigation is extremely challenging; however, the team of law enforcement and forensic specialists working the case remain committed," Jellison said, according to CBS affiliate WTTV.

Jellison continues to ask relatives of young men who vanished between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s to submit DNA samples for the new identification effort.

"That is the most efficient way that we'll be able to identify these remains," he said.

So far, that effort has identified three men based on DNA extracted from the bones. Two of those turned out to be among eight men identified in the 1990s as potential victims of Baumeister: Jeffrey A. Jones and Manuel Resendez.

Jones was 31 and Resendez, 34, when they were reported missing in 1993. Jones' remains were identified last week through a forensic genetic genealogy analysis performed by the FBI and Jellison's office, the coroner said Tuesday. Resendez's remains were identified using the same technique in January.

Last October, with the help of a DNA sample provided by his mother, other bone fragments were confirmed as those of 27-year-old Allen Livingston. According to the Doe Network, Livingston disappeared on the same day as Resendez. At that time, Livingston's identification made him the ninth presumed victim identified by investigators.

"Unusual spot to find bodies"

WTTV reported the case began in June 1996 when Baumeister's 15-year-old son discovered a human skull about 60 yards away from the home.

The investigation began while Baumeister and his wife of 24 years were in the middle of divorce proceedings, WTTV reported. The day after their son found the bones, Baumeister's wife was granted an emergency protective order and custody to keep him away from her and the three children.

At the time, Baumeister explained away the discovery, saying it was part of his late father's medical practice, the station reported. 

Three days after the boy discovered the remains, more remains were found by Hamilton County firefighters, perplexing investigators.

"It's an unusual spot to find bodies," then-Sheriff Joe Cook is quoted as telling The Indianapolis Star.

Anyone who believes they are a relative of a missing person who may be connected to the case is asked to contact the Hamilton County Coroner's Office.

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