INDIANAPOLIS — From rural communities across Indiana, young gay men have moved to the big city, leaving behind their families to find a place where they could openly express their sexuality. When some of them began disappearing, no one came looking for them.
Years later, at least four gay men have been identified among the remains of at least seven bodies discovered on an 18-acre suburban estate whose owner committed suicide in July. Three were male prostitutes working the gay bars, police said.
"They go to the nearest big city where there’s a number of gay clubs and gay life," said Ted Fleischaker, publisher of The Word, a gay newspaper with 10,000 readers in Indianapolis. "They may or may not even bother to tell their mom and dad they’re even gone. They won’t even go home for Christmas."
They were reported missing between July 1993 and July 1994, and by that time, "there was definitely some nervousness" among the gay community, said Jeff McQuary of Justice Inc., which promotes the civil rights of gays.
The dead were found along with spent shotgun shells and handcuffs on the Fox Hollow Farms estate. Herbert Baumeister, 49, lived there until he went to Canada, where he shot himself to death in a park in Ontario, police said.
Baumeister left behind a four-page letter that revealed nothing about the bones.
However, Baumeister’s ties to the Indianapolis gay community are unquestioned. Police have spoken to men who had sexual encounters with Baumeister, said Sgt. Ken Whisman, the lead investigator.
Whisman, however, refused to call Baumeister a serial killer, saying that since the causes of death remain undetermined, the cases aren’t even classified as homicides.
Baumeister’s wife, Juliana, contacted police earlier this year after her 15-year-old son had found a skull on the estate. Baumeister told his family the skull had belonged to his father, who was a doctor.