HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. — After more than 30 years, an Indianapolis family finally has answers in the decades-long disappearance of their loved one.
Allen Livingston went missing in Indianapolis in 1993.
On Monday, the Hamilton County Coroner was notified by the Indiana State Police that Livingston’s remains had been positively identified among those found on suspected serial killer Herbert Baumeister’s property in 1996.
Allen’s remains were among 10,000 bone fragments found on the Fox Hollow Farm Property, where Baumeister used to live, in Hamilton County.
“We’ve all had that feeling that he was out there,” said Eric Pranger, Livingston’s cousin.
Pictures of 27-year-old Allen Livingston before he went missing in 1993.
The positive ID was made as part of a reinvigorated look at the investigation by Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison.
Jellison said it’s exciting to get the first ID out of this new investigation but they also realize the reality of it.
“Very quickly we realized we had another murder victim,” Jellison said.
Investigators believe Baumeister preyed on Indianapolis gay bars for years in the 1980s and 1990s. He would pick up men, bring them back to his secluded Hamilton County home and kill them.
It wasn’t until 1996 that Baumeister was found out. Shortly after the first of the 10,000 bone fragments were found on his property and an investigation was opened, Baumeister shot himself in Canada.
The investigation and remains mostly sat untouched for 25 years after that. Now, Jellison is partnering with the Indiana State Police, University of Indianapolis and FBI to use new DNA technology to try and identify the remains that have gathered dust for so many years.
“That’s exactly how this person was identified,” Jellsion said. “A DNA profile from a human remain was compared to a family reference sample by the Indiana State Police and we now have our first identification.”
Jellison notified Livingston’s mother Monday and Pranger found out the following day. It’s been a mix of emotions for the family.
“I feel happy and sad at the same time,” Pranger said. “Happy we were able to identify Allen but sad we got this news.”
The news fulfills a mission for Pranger and his family – giving Allen’s mother Sharon answers before her own passing.
“She’s got closure, even though we only have one piece of Allen, that’s fine,” Pranger said. “It’s enough.”
Pranger hasn’t just been sitting back waiting for this closure, he’s a big part of why the investigation into Baumeister is getting another look. Pranger called Jellison more than a year ago and asked the coroner to try and identify more of the remains from Fox Hollow Farm.
“That’s what got this whole ball rolling,” Jellison said. “And then a year and a half later, our first identification out of 10,00 remains that we have is Allen Livingston. Where does that come from? That’s a God thing.”
Jellison said Pranger’s phone call spurred what has become a complex foundation for this new phase of the investigation, filled with experts from several different fields.
“Potentially would we be sitting here today and still not be doing anything with these remains without his phone call? Probably a pretty good likelihood,” Jellison said.
Jellison is hoping this is just the beginning. He has goals to meet.
“One, provide closure for the family members and, two, to provide a final resting spot for those folks that have been house at the University of Indianapolis for 20 years,” Jellison said.
The initial investigation in 1996 identified remains of eight people found on the Baumeister property and three more DNA sets were not identified. Allen’s remains are the first to be identified in this new investigation but Jellison expects more.
“The ISP informed me this morning that from the 44 remains that have been sent to them this year we also have four more individuals that are identified,” Jellison said.
That is four more people Jellison’s team will now work to identify but they need help.
“I need a family reference sample, I need a DNA swab,” Jellison said. “It takes 30 seconds to do that, it’s just a Q-tip type swab on the inside of the cheek. We can come to you, you can come to us, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if you’re in Indianapolis or another part of the U.S.”
Jellison is looking for family members of people who went missing between the 1980s and 1996. Baumeister lived in Hamilton County and operated in Indianapolis but Jellison said families looking into this should not limit themselves by location.
“We don’t know what happened,” Jellison said. “We don’t know how far his reach was.”
For families wondering if their missing loved one could be among the remains found on Fox Hollow Farm, Jellison asks they don’t count their relative out based on sexuality.
“We have no indication all these victims were gay, so absolutely I’m not going to box myself in like that,” he said.
Investigators have long said there could be as many as 25 victims among the remains found on Baumesiter’s property. With the original eight victims and three DNA profiles who were first discovered in 1996, plus Allen’s ID and the four additional unidentified DNA profiles annouced this week – that adds up to 16 DNA profiles identfied in the remains.
Jellison is worried there could be more than 25 victims among all those thousands of bones.
“I used to say 20, 25 just like you mentioned, but I’m not going to stick to that number any longer,” Jellison said.
As Jellison continues this investigation, he’s reminded of his mission by the painting on his wall. It says “No Longer Forgotten.”
“My wife painted that for me and I look at it every day and it’s the reason we’re doing what we’re doing because they are no longer forgotten,” he said.
Livingston’s loved ones highly encourage anyone who might think they could find answers about their missing relative at Fox Hollow Farm to reach out to Jellison.
“Reach out to the the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office and submit a DNA sample, that’s what we did,” Ranger said.
You can call the Hamilton County Coroner’s office at (317) 770-4415.