Indiana police recover 2 DNA profiles from human remains found at property of long-dead businessman

Jul 20, 2023, 11:04 AM

WESTFIELD, Ind. (AP) — Indiana authorities have recovered two complete human DNA profiles from bones and bone fragments found on property once owned by a long-deceased businessman suspected in a string of killings in the 1980s and 1990s.

Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison said Indiana State Police’s laboratory was able to produce the two DNA profiles this week from among a batch of bones and fragments submitted to the state agency as part of a renewed effort to identify more of the human remains found on Herbert Baumeister’s property.

Baumeister was 49 when fatally shot himself in Canada in July 1996 as investigators sought to question him about the remains discovered at Fox Hollow Farm, his 18-acre estate in Westfield, a Hamilton County city that’s a few miles north of Indianapolis.

Last year, Jellison asked relatives of young men who vanished between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s to submit DNA samples to his office as part of a renewed effort to identify more of the roughly 10,000 charred bones and fragments found at Baumeister’s property.

He said he’s hoping the two newly developed DNA profiles can provide closure to families of men who went missing decades ago.

“Really, those working with us from the Indiana State Police are the offensive lineman of this investigation,” Jellison told WXIN-TV. “Any identification we may get will be a result of their hard work.”

Investigators believed Baumeister, a married father of three who frequented gay bars, lured men to his home and killed them. By 1999, authorities had linked him to the disappearance of at least 16 men since 1980, including several whose bodies were found dumped in shallow streams in rural central Indiana and western Ohio.

When Jellison announced the renewed identification effort in November, he said investigators believed the 10,000 charred bones and fragments found at Baumeister’s property could represent the remains of at least 25 people. Eleven human DNA samples were extracted from those bones during the original investigation in the 1990s.

Eight of those people, all young men, were identified and matched to DNA samples, but three remaining DNA profiles are of unknown individuals, Jellison said last year.

State police investigators will now work to compare the two new DNA profiles to samples submitted by relatives of long-missing men, and also check whether they match those of the eight men whose remains were previously identified.

“They’re now doing the comparison samples and fast-tracking that process now that we have modern DNA,” Jellison told WTHR-TV.

If no matches with those samples are found, he said state police’s effort will expand nationwide by using national DNA databases. If that fails, Jellison said his office may partner with a private DNA testing company to conduct “forensic genetic genealogy” testing.

In the meantime, Jellison said state police are working to extract more DNA profiles from the remains found at Baumeister’s property.

“That’s the story I want to tell, is who these people are. That’s my job is to tell who they are and to speak for them,” Jellison said.

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Indiana police recover 2 DNA profiles from human remains found at property of long-dead businessman