SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Forty years ago, four young fast food employees were murdered after being kidnapped from a Speedway Burger Chef restaurant. The murders remain unsolved, but a Speedway man is working to keep their memories alive.
“It humanizes them, it humanizes Ruth, Jayne, Mark and Daniel, that they were more than just what happened to them,” said Alex Wisemiller, who organized the new memorial at Leonard Park.
Wisemiller grew up in Speedway, and from time to time heard stories about the Burger Chef murders. He came up with the idea of the memorial about six months ago.
“It is brought up around here, but it’s kind of a hushed subject, a lot of people don’t like to talk about it,” said Wisemiller.
Forty years ago, Burger Chef employees Ruth Shelton, Jayne Friedt, Mark Flemmonds and Daniel Davis were found brutally murdered in rural Johnson County, but no arrests have ever been made.
“They were just kids, they were at the beginning of their lives and they had so much going for them,” said Wisemiller.
Getting people to talk about those four young lives is exactly what Wisemiller is hoping for with this memorial. He hopes people who visit the memorial will think not of what happened, but of each life itself.
“Now people can learn more about who they are and the impact they made on so many people even today,” said Wisemiller.
Each tree has a plaque with one of their names, and a few lines about them. During a private dedication ceremony last week, the family of Jayne Friedt left behind her Burger Chef uniform necktie.
Now there’s a lasting spot for their legacies, a place to focus on who they were, not the way they died.
“My hope is that anyone can come here to this spot and sit down on this bench, and just reflect on anyone if they’ve ever lost somebody and just know that your loved ones, they’re never truly gone, and that they’re just a whisper away,” said Wisemiller,
This is still an open investigation, and if you know anything you’re asked to call the Indiana State Police.