Hey, everybody you're listening to Unpopular Culture - This episode is the first episode in our SERIAL KILLERS series: About Herb Baumeister and his Massive Burial Ground of a Home called Fox Hollow Farm.
⚠️ warning: contents unpopular. The following audio contains graphic material.
- In 2012, Rob and Vicky Graves sat down for an interview and stated the following events to be true: (music stars)
- In Caramel, Indiana, a beautiful quiet suburb, Rob and Vicky are thrilled to have found the perfect home. One that matches everything they were looking for, it was huge, gorgeous and.... surprisingly cheap? They take the cheap price and feel blessed over their good fortune. Within weeks, the two are riddled with disturbing nightmares that compell them to physically run away from the house in their sleep. Quickly, they begin experiencing extreme paranormal situations, together and separately from one other. Sightings of a man in a red shirt standing in the woods watching them become part of their everyday existence. The pressure becomes too much to handle.
- They go to the real-estate agent and demandanswers. They are stunned to learn that their Dream Home, formerly a symbol of decadence and luxury is in fact a mass grave and the site of horrific murders by one of the nation's most prolific serial killers: Herb Baumeister.
- This is the Unpopular Culture Podcast. You are listening to Part 1 of our Serial Killers Series: "The House on Fox Hollow Farm"
- Known as the I-70 Strangler for a series of murders in the midwest in 1980's, Herb Baumeister becomes known for turning his massive estate into an enormous gravesite. This horrific string of sexual strangulation murders has us wondering: what kind of person is capable of such a thing? In this episode, This is a look into the psychological profile of Herb Baumeister and details of his infamous murder spree.
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- On a seemingly ordinary night at an Indianapolis police station in 1993, a disheveled man stumbles through the door and gives the police answers they didn't know they needed.
- Donovan Baxter said he was headed out for a normal Friday night at his favorite gay-bar. While sipping his drink, he was lost in a Missing Persons poster with his old friend's face on it that hangs behind the bar. His friend, Roger Goodlet, had been missing for weeks, and Donovan had lost faith that the local police department could find him.
- An attractive guy was suddenly standing next to him, and whispered that he once knew Roger too. He introduced himself as "Brian Smart."
- Donovan was smitten, and the two hit it off. The next thing he knew, he was invited stay at Brian's house.
- The drive out there was more rural than Donovan expected. He couldn't see much and felt a little nervous, still thinking of his missing friend, not to mention the recent string of abductions in the area. And Donovan matched the visual profile of the victims.
- On the way into the massive home, Donovan could see a sign over the split-rail fence, and could only read the words Fox and Farm.
- Once inside, Brian was charming and over some drinks, the two got comfortable.
- They fooled around in his large, luxurious indoor pool. Brian asked "Have you ever tried bondage or autoerotic asphysxiation?" to which Donovan replied no. Brian asked, "Can we try it?" and Donovan sheepishly replied with a yes.
- Brian Smart pulled out a garden hose and started chocking Donovan. At first, Donovan was turned on by this, but something went wrong very fast.
- Donovan tells the Indianapolis police that in that moment, he saw something in "Brian Smart"s eyes, and realized he wasn't going to stop choking him.
- Donovan panicked and pretended to pass out. He knew Herb was trying to call him, but knew the only way out was to play it cool, like a playful accident gone to far. So, he played along when Herb apologized for almost killing him.
- Donovan politely asked to be taken home.
- There was no longer a doubt in Donovan's mind that this "Brian Smart" had killed his friend previously, and had surely just tried to kill him. Once he was home, he ran to the police station.
- And so the search began for Brian Smart.
PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILE OF HERB BAUMEISTER
- More often than not, these serial killers are hidden in plain sight. They have a job, they have a wife, a family, neighbors, friends, people that know them and speak well of them. So often nobody suspects a thing until it's too late. A trail of bodies, a police investigation, interviewed witnesses and neighbors are dumbfounded that this person they thought they knew could do the things they did. Some monsters are created through repeated trauma, excessive violence and neglect. Herb Baumeister, by all evidence was born this way.
- From early on in his childhood, Herb exhibited bizarre behavior.
- In elementary school, he told his classmates he wanted to taste human urine, and picked up dead crows off the side of the road that he would later plant in his teacher's desk drawer.
- Herb's father identified something wasn't right with him and ordered extensive medical exams for his son, and the results came back that he was "schizophrenic, or having a two-or-more-sided personality base."
- Based on what I've read on Herb Baumesiter, I don't see any evidence of schizophrenia or multiple personalities. And these are, in fact two very different things. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder involving hallucinations, delusions, paranoia or catatonia, caused by psychological trauma, and also genetics, traumatic brain injuries or drug use. So, someone who is schizophrenic can see bugs crawling on their skin that aren't there or often hear voices telling them to harm themselves. In the movie K-Pax (2001), there is an man in the mental hospital who thinks everyone stinks, and tells them so. This is an olfactory hallucination, meaning smelling things that aren't there. So when we talk about Schizophrenia, this is the kind of stuff you look for. Multiple Personality Disorder is a literal split in the psyche where someone takes on multiple alters, and is almost always caused by intensive trauma or neglect in childhood. So, these are people who have the ability to shift between plains of consciousness. In an off-season podcast we released this past January, Dr. Kirk Honda and I reviewed the movie Split (2017), whose lead character, Kevin, deals with 23 different personalities (You can check that out at upcpodcast.com) So, these are the kinds of things that people with Multiple Personalites deal with. So, Clearly, neither of these things fit Herb Bauemeister. The ediology, or the causes of what makes a person Schizophrenic or have Split Personalities, are absent. Not to mention, the symtoms aren't there. He wasn't hallucinating or acting like different people... and his dad seemed supportive and caring so there was no neglect or abuse.
- So, if he's not Schizophrenic, and he doesn't have Split Personalities, I'd say his personality traits are consistent with something called anti-social personality disorder.
- This is defined in the DSM5 as a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others. Obviously, not all people with anti-social personality disorder are serial killers, it's a spectrum. But Herb exemplifies many of these qualities.
- Though I could never formally diagnose somebody without having met them personally, we can look at the criteria in the DSM5 and see that what we know about Herb is consistent with Anti Social Personality Disorder.
- Reckless Disregard for the safety of others **Michael laughs here** isn't this obvious since hes a serial killer (Coworkers from a newspaper job he had recalled a time that they attempted to include him, inviting him to a football game and Herb offered to drive. The day came and he literally showed up in a hearse. They reluctantly obliged, but were shocked and horrified when he flashed the lights the whole way there, as cars moved over, and laughed maniacally.)
- Deceitfulness as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure (As we learned from Donovan's story, Baumeister uses the alias "Brian Smart" to lure gay men back to his home and murder them for his own sexual pleasure)
- Failure to conform to social norms, with respect to, lawful behaviors, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest. (We see this consistently from Baumeister, even in his early childhood- putting the dead bird in his teacher's desk and as we'll see coming up, a history of trouble with peers at work. This constant prankster behavior feels milicious and is indicative of what is to come from Baumeister later in his life.)
- He was alone in high school and even in college, consistently known to his peers as an outcast. Here's where Baumeister contrasts with a lot of other popular serial killers. Take somebody like Ted Bundy or Charlie Manson. People find them very charming and ingratiating, but Baumeister was obviously not that. He had a prankster, bizarre humor mentality.
- His father helped him get several jobs, the first of which being an advertising executive for the newspaper. He was known, yet again, as an outsider by his peers, but his superiors remember him to be "eager" and thought he tried too hard.
- He got another job through his father, at the BMV. Again, his superiors noticed a "go-get-em attitude mixed with a high degree of intelligence" Although to the people that truly knew his daily reality, they described his behavior as bizarre. So we know he's smart and ambitious, which are characteristics of the more popular serial killers. But, he doesn't seem to have the third characteristic that these people have: manipulation. In order to be manipulative, your peers have to like you. His behavior was constantly perceived as awkward and bizarre. And it was.
- He urinated on his boss desk about a year after being at the BMV and although his coworkers were sure of the culprit, they couldn't prove it. He would inevitably be fired later on, because he urinated on a letter addressed to the Governor of Indiana.
- During the BMV job, he did manage to meet his wife, Juliana. But after he was let go from the BMV, they were able to open a Sav-A-Lot in conjunction with a local Children's Charity, in 1988. Within a couple years, they opened another. Herb's intelligence and ambitious pays off and he thrives as an independent business man.
- Because they were so successful, in 1991, they moved to huge mansion, called Fox Hollow Farm on eighteen-and-a-half acres, 20 miles outside of the city, hoping to live a typical American Dream with their three kids.
- However, their happily ever after was cut short, and their marriage started to show signs of strain within a couple years. The house reflected this disarray in their lives. The land became overgrown and the house full of unkempt clutter and trash. The few friends they had described their relationship as dangerously lopsided, saying that Juliana seemed unable to be herself, and that Herb was too overpowering. Juliana was documented in therapy sessions later in their marriage as having only had sex with Herb 6 times in their 25 years of marriage and that she had never seen him naked. Imagine what it would be like to married to a monster for 25 years and have no idea. The dynamic of their marriage shows Herb's need to aggressively control others, and the fact that they've barely had sex, shows that he's not aroused by conventional things.
- What would it take to shake this woman out of her complacency, of how blind she is to the world she's actually living in? What would it take to convince you that the person you're with is a murderer?
- For Juliana, that day comes in 1994 when her ten-year-old son hands her a human skull that he found in the backyard and asks "Mom, what's this?"
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- It's been a couple years, and police are still looking for "Brian Smart" who we now know as Herb Baumeister.
- Up until this point he has successfully gotten away with murder after murder, and this is how he gets caught.
- Donovan Baxter, the man who escaped being murderered at Fox Hollow Farm by pretending to pass out was out in the world on an ordinary day in 1994, and spotted "Brian Smart" again, sitting in his car at a stop sign. Donovan was able to write down his license plate number.
- The police immediately investigate and find that "Brian Smart" is an alias for the true serial killer: Herb Baumeister. When they come to the door, Baumeister is uncooperative, and without more evidence police are yet again unable to investigate further.
- BUT, as Baumeister is now aware that he has been found out, he unravels. Within the six months after police visit his door, his business, marraige and mental health crumble.
- After his son finds a skull in the backyard and brings it to his horrified mother, She cracks. Abashed by the man she's been living with, she calls the police one day while Herb is on vacation, allowing them to search the property, and any hope he ever had of being free was suddenly shot. She divorces him and his downfall begins.
- This infamous investigation in 1996 would become the focal point of the 1-70 Strangler Case. 5,500 bones and teeth were uncovered at the residence of Herb Baumeister. The corpses barely identifiable, but the few of them that were confirmed the story of Donovan Baxter identifying "Brian Smart" in a bar and ultimately leading to his arrest.
- Upon even further investigation and his name and face surfacing to the public, Baumeister was tied to the 1-70 murders in Ohio, less than a decade before.
- While all of this is happening, Baumeister hears word of the investigation and panicks, and flees to Canada. In a suicide note, he writes that he feels sorry for his failed business and failed marraige, but never mentions any of the murders. Sitting on a lake shore in Ontario, he shoots himself in the head.
- The scene of Baumeister's death is described as: "A sand mound like an altar for himself, he laid on it with his arms stretched out, and he had placed dead birds around in a ritualistic fashion."
- So, we've found that Baumeister's personality traits are consistent with psychopathic behavior, and we know now that he was not only responsible for the gay men who went missing in the 1980's, but also the 1-70 murders a decade before.
- Often times, Serial killers will commit their murders far away from home, then as their confidence grows, they get closer to home. This can help establish a pattern of behavior. Baumeister started strangling people on the I-70 in Ohio and eventually got more confident and comfortable and close to home in Indiana, which ultimately led to his downfall as he collected bodies at his own home. Has anyone ever seen the show Dexter? The main character of the show is a serial killer who is always meticulous, taking great care to avoid such pitfalls. This requires a mind that is thinking 10 steps ahead and considering every contingency.
- Serial killers will often target a population they feel is weaker than them. Her Baumeister targeted intoxicated and disarmed gay men at a bar.
- Targeting gay men of similar look, size, etc. suggests Baumeister has a specific person in his past that is the source of all of this. Although, we'll probably never know. It could also indicate he is either worried or frustrated about being gay himself or with others thinking he's homosexual. By strangling gay men, it's possible that he's able to purge himself of this bottled-up sexual impulse.
- This kind of murder as known as a lust-murder. Psychologists coin this term "Erotophonophilia." Erotophonphiles get sexual pleasure from killing or thinking about killing their partners. These fantasies are extremely violent, often involving mutilating, torturing and murdering their victims during sex. What's unique about them is that they are continually dissatisfied, and this is why serial killers are the kind of people that are most likely to be erotophonophiles.
- "One of the most cited studies in the area of lust murder is a 1990 paper by Dr. P.E. Dietz and colleagues published in the Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. They examined 30 sexual sadists (most of which were sexual murderers). They found that the majority were employed white males (75%), and many were married (50%), had a history of homosexual experience (43%)," All of these are the case with Herb Baumeister.
- You don't always know people the way you think you do. In the case of Juliuana Baumeister, she lived on top of a mass gravesite for more than a decade and slept next to a serial killer and never knew. Donovan, didn't know the attractive guy who charmed him at the bar was the man who had strangled his friend.
- As disparaging as all of this might be, don't let it keep you from making new friends. Just have a healthy skepticism!
As the old Russian proverb goes "Trust, but verify."
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Erotophonophilia And the psychology of sexual homicide
This Breathtaking Estate Witnessed Brutal Murders And Became A Massive Burial Ground