INDIANAPOLIS — It was on a Friday night in November 43 years ago that Brian Kring was on a date with a fellow employee from the Burger Chef on Crawfordsville Road in Speedway.
“On taking her home, which was a little bit before twelve, we passed by the Burger Chef and she says that she remembered that she didn’t see Jayne’s vehicle there, the Vega,” said Brian Kring. “One of the employees called in and said that their van broke down, I vividly remember that, and I guess because of that, I told them that I would come back by and help them close.”
Kring was 17-years-old and a student at Ben Davis High School who had a job flipping burgers at the fast-food restaurant.
Jayne Friedt was his manager. Ruth Ellen Shelton, Daniel Davis and Mark Flemmonds were his coworkers.
They all should have been on the job when Kring returned shortly after midnight to help them close.
“I drove around to the back of the building, I guess to go around to the other side to park, and when I pulled around to the back, I the first thing I noticed was the back door was cracked open and I decided to go in the back door.
“I walked in there and I didn’t see anybody, and pretty sure I checked the whole store, walk-in freezer and whatever, and nobody’s there,” Kring recalled. “When I was walking around, I did walk into the manager’s office and I noticed that the safe is sitting wide open, cash drawers are laid out, and after that is when I called somebody and they told me to call the police.”
While Speedway Police were on the way, Kring said he was joined by another employee, stopping by after he took the night off work because he said his van wasn’t running.
“Danny Davis wasn’t supposed to be closing that night so he asked his mother if he could stay and close because of the employee that had the van that broke down, he was supposed to come in and close,” said Kring. “Shortly after I go there that employee showed up at the Burger Chef.
“As soon as he found out that I called the police, he took off.”
At first, officers speculated that the employees cleaned out the cash registers and took off, a theory that was horribly disproven when the four bodies were discovered in a wooded area in Johnson County two days later.
Flemmonds was killed because he came to work to cover for the girl Kring took on a date that night.
Friedt’s car was discovered in a park near Speedway Police headquarters.
Daniels and Shelton were both shot to death.
“I always thought it could have easily been me,” said Kring. “I could have easily missed them by five minutes, thirty minutes, walking in on that whole situation.
“It really hit me this last November 17th probably the worst out of all the years because there’s just some things that I don’t understand because I just have some questions on why some things haven’t been investigated that I know of.”
Investigators theorize the employees were the victims of a crew of three-to-five men who had been robbing fast-food restaurants, particularly Burger Chefs, and shooting people in Indianapolis.
Three of the suspects died in the 1980s, though investigators are aware one man admitted his role in the killings to a relative.
Three years ago, one of their associates told Fox 59 News that he was not with his friends the night of the Speedway Burger Chef robbery, had passed two polygraph tests, had no knowledge of the activities of the other members of the crew and doubted if the case would ever be solved.
“What do you think happened to those kids that night and why?” I asked Kring.
“Oh, it was drugs,” he said. “Somebody owed somebody. Either one of two people.
“Something that should have never happened and it was botched and I believe somebody recognized somebody or somebody tried to take whoever came in and they hurt that individual or whatever.
“There was one known drug dealer around that he only used young kids to deal the drugs and it seems like everything is around young kids and that’s the thing that bugs me the most and we don’t even know if the thing is being investigated.”
In 2018 ISP said it was submitting evidence for updated forensic testing.
If you have information about the Burger Chef murders, call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.