Officials identify remains found at Indiana farm in 1983 as Chicago teen slain by late serial killer

Jul 25, 2023, 1:21 PM | Updated: Jul 27, 2023, 12:18 pm

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Human remains found buried in 1983 at an abandoned Indiana farm have been identified as those of a Chicago teenager who was a victim of the late serial killer Larry Eyler, authorities said Tuesday.

The remains, which were found near the remains of three young men Eyler also killed, are those of Keith Lavell Bibbs, who was 16 when he died, according to the Newton County Coroner’s Office and the DNA Doe Project.

Eyler confessed to at least 20 killings before dying in 1994 at an Illinois prison, where he was on death row for the 1984 murder of 15-year-old Danny Bridges of Chicago.

In 1990, Eyler confessed to killing a Black male in July 1983 at a Newton County farm and described that male as being in his late teens or early 20s, said Pam Lauritzen, spokeswoman for the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that works to identify cold case victims.

Bibbs, who was a Chicago resident, would have been 16 at the time of his death, she said.

The Newton County Coroner’s Office worked with the DNA Doe Project, Indiana State Police and the Identify Indiana Initiative to identify Bibbs nearly 40 years after his remains were discovered.

He is the last to be positively identified of the four victims found buried in shallow graves in October 1983 at the abandoned farm in Lake Village, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) southeast of Chicago. All four had been drugged and murdered by Eyler, according to his confessions.

Newton County Coroner Scott McCord said he was working Tuesday on paperwork needed to get Bibbs’ remains sent to his relatives for burial. He said the family is requesting privacy while they grieve.

“Everything’s done except for getting him back home,” he told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “It’s been a long road getting all those kids identified.”

The DNA Doe Project said in a news release that Bibbs’ DNA was “highly degraded” and investigators spent more than two years repeatedly trying to create “a workable DNA profile” to compare to databases used for forensic cases. In January, the nonprofit said a team of investigative genetic genealogists had finally made progress unraveling Bibbs’ “complex family tree,” leading to his identification.

Two of Eyler’s four victims found buried at the farm were identified early in the investigation as Michael Bauer and John Bartlett. In April 2021, the coroner’s office announced that authorities had identified a third victim as John Ingram Brandenburg Jr. of Chicago, leaving only Bibbs’ body unidentified at that time.

In December 2021, authorities announced that the body of another of Eyler’s victims found at a different site in rural northwestern Indiana had been identified as 19-year-old William Joseph Lewis of Peru, Indiana.

Lewis’ body was also found in October 1983, but in a Jasper County field, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) southeast of Chicago. He was last seen alive in 1982 by his family at a friend’s funeral in Houston, Texas, officials said.

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Officials identify remains found at Indiana farm in 1983 as Chicago teen slain by late serial killer