WESTFIELD, Ind. — Indiana State Police have recovered 2 complete DNA profiles from remains recovered at serial killer Herbert Baumeister’s property in Hamilton County as the local coroner’s office continues trying to identify as many potential victims as possible.
According to Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison, ISP scientists were able to produce the two DNA profiles this week after being asked to test a batch of remains. The remains, consisting of roughly 10,000 bones and fragments, were originally found in Baumeister’s yard in the 1990s.
The investigation into Baumeister, considered one of Indiana’s most notorious serial killers, began in 1996. Police believe he lured gay men to his Westfield home in the mid-80s through the mid-90s before killing them and disposing of their bodies in the back of his property.
Despite it being over 20 years since Baumeister’s death, the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office is continuing the work to identify his victims.
Part of the process is working with ISP on DNA testing, a process that Jellison said may be starting to pay off.
“Really, those working with us from the Indiana State Police are the offensive lineman of this investigation,” Jellison said. “Any identification we may get will be a result of their hard work.”
Although Jellison said that ISP is encouraged by this week’s results, and believes that more DNA profiles may be on the way, the work to identify these potential victims is far from over.
Now, investigators will begin the process of trying to match a name and identity to the DNA recovered.
First, Jellison said the profiles will be compared by ISP with samples already provided to the Coroner’s Office by people who believe their relatives may have been a victim of Baumeister.
If no matches are found, state police’s search will expand nationwide by using CODIS and other databases.
If ISP is unable to yield any matches, Jellison said his office may partner with a private DNA testing company to conduct “forensic genetic genealogy” testing.
Despite this step toward identifying more of Baumeister’s victims, Jellison said that his office will continue to work with ISP to test more batches of remains for DNA profiles.
However, the coroner did clarify that not all of the 10,000 bones, which are currently being stored within the University of Indianapolis’ archaeology department, will be good candidates for DNA testing.
Jellison also added that investigators are not totally sure at this moment whether the recently uncovered DNA profiles are that of previously identified victims, such as two victims whose remains were finally returned to their families last December.
Finally, Jellison said a key for investigators thus far has been the comparison samples provided by people who suspect their relatives were victims. He said he encourages anyone who even has an inclination that a family member was a Baumeister victim to contact his office.
“Anyone who had a relative go missing during this time period, please reach out to us,” Jellison said. “You can come to us, get swabbed and we will get your DNA entered into CODIS for future searches. It is an easy process.”
The phone number at the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office is (317) 770-4415.