Remains found on suspected serial killer's property in Westfield, Indiana identified

January 30, 2024

Human remains discovered in 1996 on the property of a now-deceased suspected Serial killer, have finally been identified as a man who went missing in the summer of 1993.

On January 25, 2024, the Hamilton County Coroner's Office of Indiana released a statement confirming Manuel Resendez had been identified as part of a large operation to identify a staggering 10,000 bones that were discovered on an 18-acre estate known as Fox Hollow Farm in Westfield, Indiana. Fox Hollow was formerly owned by a suspected serial killer named Herb Baumeister.

It is believed the remains, which appeared to have been burned, could belong to at least 25 victims.

Manuel Resendez was 34 years old at the time of his disappearance and was finally identified earlier this month after his family members submitted DNA samples to be tested against his remains. Resendez was from Lafayette, Indiana, and worked as a children’s counsellor.  His cause of death is unknown.

 

Who was Herb Baumeister?

The I-70 Strangler is the media moniker given to an unidentified serial killer who murdered 11 boys and men in the Indiana / Ohio area between the summer of 1980 and the fall of 1991. The victims would be picked up at local gay bars around Indianapolis and found strangled to death along the I-70. The victims were all male and between the ages of 14 - 32. The I-70 strangler case is not officially solved; however, police believe Baumeister could be responsible as the bodies stopped appearing along the intersection following his purchase of the Fox Hollow property in 1991.

Although married with three children of his own, Baumeister was known to frequent gay bars under his alias, "Brian Smart," where it is believed he would lure men to his home with the intention of harming and killing them. Police believed that they could link Baumeister to at least 16 men who had gone missing since 1980, several of whom were found dead in rural areas of Indiana and Ohio.

In the early 1990s, after a young gay men of similar descriptions began disappearing in and around Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff's Department launched an investigation. They received a call from a man named Tony Harris, whose friend, Roger Goodlet, had gone missing. Harris told police that he suspected a man named Brian Smart had murdered Goodlet after meeting him in a gay bar and going home with him.

When asked why he believed this, Tony Harris said he himself was a survivor of Baumiester, and was able to give the police an insight into how Baumiester lured and killed his victims.

Harris said he met Baumiester at a gay bar, the 501 club in Indianapolis, and accepted an invitation to go home with him, arriving at Fox Hollow.

While in the middle of their sexual encounter, Harris said Baumiester attempted to strangle him to death with a pool hose. In order to survive, Harris had to think fast, and acted as though he was unconscious. He then managed to escape the property, as well as the grisly fate Baumiester had likely planned for him that night.

Harris tried to track down the man he knew as “Brian Smart,” but it wouldn’t be until 1995 that he finally spotted the man while driving around, and followed him, so he could write down the licence plate. 

Investigators were finally able to identify the man as Herb Baumeister and informed him that he was a suspect in several missing peoples cases. Baumeister denied police requests to search his home and property, however, by 1996, Baumiester could no longer hold himself together, scaring his wife to the point that they separated. She allowed police to search the land and property after the divorce was formally filed, making sure that Baumeister himself was not in town at the time. It was then that police discovered the remains.

The remains of at least 11 different people were turned up in woodland on Fox Hollow Farm on June 24, 1996.

The property was searched again in early December of 2022, turning up twenty potential burial sites.

Although many sets of remains have been recovered over the years, only eight individuals have been formally identified, and several remain unknown, and are all thought to be male murder victims

 

Baumeister committed suicide in Canada at the age of 49 in the summer of 1996.

Before shooting himself in the head, he penned a suicide note across three sheets of paper, not once mentioning the remains found on his land. He expressed remorse for ruining his marriage and business.

The victims so far are all between the ages of 20 - 45 and went missing between 1993 - 1996.

The Hamilton County Coroner's office is asking that families in the area who have loved ones that went missing between the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties to complete a DNA test to help identify the remaining victims.

 

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