WESTFIELD, Ind. — “Our phone’s ringing off the hook.”
That’s Jeff Jellison, who is both the Chief Deputy Hamilton County Coroner and the Coroner-Elect.
He said a single phone call months ago prompted a review of the notorious case of serial killer Herbert Baumeister.
“A family member had called me and they were convinced that their loved one was a victim in Fox Hollow Farms,” Jellison said.
The location was once the property of Baumeister. Forensic teams in the 1990s recovered bones and bone fragments from the property. Investigators suspect they came from maybe 25 different murder victims. From this and other searches, some 10,000 bones and bone fragments were collected.
Before Baumeister could be caught and questioned, he fled to Canada and killed himself.
That left DNA to link the bones to missing persons. Eleven DNA profiles were isolated. Of that eight were identified, but just four sets of remains were claimed by family members.
And just recently, the renewed investigation contacted family members for two sets of unclaimed remains.
“And I can say that later today,” said a smiling Jellison. “The coroner’s office will be handing those remains over to a family today.”
The identities of those victims and their families have not been disclosed.
Jellison said the case has received a lot of traction since being picked up in the local news.
“We’re being contacted from folks by our from all over the nation that are wanting to provide us (with) DNA swabs because they have someone missing,” he said.
There is a tremendous amount of work ahead, Jellison added. Soon, Indiana State Police specialists will be going through the thousands of bones and bone fragments still housed at UIndy to determine which can be tested for DNA. Ground penetrating radar is coming in to get a better look at what may be beneath the surface at Fox Hollow Farm.
Still, Jellison said he wants his busy office phone to keep ringing
“If you have someone missing from the middle 80s to the middle ’90s, I need to talk to you,” he said. “I need a DNA swab.”
The phone number at the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office is (317) 770-4415.