Serial Killer Herb Baumeister on Fox Hollow Farm

Serial Killer, Herb Baumeister, AKA The "I-70 Strangler" and responsible for "The Gay Murders" in Indiana in the late 1980's and early 1990's was an odd man that rode around in a hearse and urinating on a lot of different things... In this episode, Michael Drane, UPC's resident psychotherapist dives into the Psychology of Erotophonophilia & Auto-Erotic Asphixiation. You'll also hear a psychological profile of Herb Baumeister, prolific serial killer and murderer who turned his massive estate, "Fox Hollow Farm" into a burial ground. This episode includes original music by Michael Drane, himself. If you want to support Michael and help the podcast grow—please support us on Patreon. Go to patreon.com/upcpodcast to become a stalker and get bonus episodes! 

Hello, my friend. You're reading our shownotes for one of the Unpopular Culture Podcast episodes. 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. If you like this episode, please listen to the podcast on your favorite podcatcher, or on YouTube & Become a Stalker to get bonus episodes! 

Rob & Vicki Graves (2012)

Rob & Vicki Graves (2012)

In 2012, Rob and Vicki Graves sit down for an interview and state the following events to be true: 

In Carmel, 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. Imagine waking up from a dead sleep to the feeling of the night air, the feeling of the grass under your feet. Quickly, they experience 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 routine existence. The pressure becomes too much to handle.

This inexpensive picturesque house has apparently come with a serious catch. They go to the real-estate agent and demand answers. Rob & Vicky 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 pseudo anonymous serial killers in American history: Herb Baumeister.

Wanted poster fir Herb Baumeister "I-70 Strangler"

Wanted poster fir Herb Baumeister "I-70 Strangler"

Known as the I-70 Strangler for a series of murders in the midwest in 1980's, Herb Baumeister eventually becomes even more 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? This episode is a look into the psychological profile of Herb Baumeister and details of his infamous murder spree. The following story of a man who escaped being murdered by Baumeister is true, but his name has been changed to protect his own privacy.

    Rural Carmel, Indiana is a conservative, tiny town in the midwest. It's the early 1990's and a slew of murders has taken place in the area, particularly many young men have gone missing from gay bars. As this is a conservative, small town in the early 90's, most are staying quiet about the killings. Most gay people in the area were not openly OUT, out of fear for their safety and social acceptance. Known as "The Gay Murders"—not even mainstream news was covering the event. Though the local police were aware, they had little to no evidence, and this might be because the gay population was too scared to admit they had seen something or even been at the gay bar.
    And then, on a seemingly ordinary night in 1993, a man anonymously called the police and gave them the answers they had been looking for. Donovan Baxter tells the police he was headed out for a normal Friday night at his favorite gay-bar. Hanging on a Missing Person's Poster behind the bar was the face of an old friend, Roger Goodlet. Roger had been missing for weeks, and at this point Donovan told the police, he had lost faith that anyone could find him.
    This same night, a stranger introduced himself as "Brian Smart."


    In this A&E Documentary called "Investigative Reports", the man we're referring to as "Donovan Baxter" recounts the night he met this stranger. Donovan was clearly suspecting of Brian Smart's insincerity and he was curious, enough to follow him home. The drive out to his house 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 intriguing and over some drinks, the two got comfortable. Brian Smart pulled out a garden hose and started choking Donovan. At first, Donovan was turned on by this. With auto-erotic asphixiation, there are two factors: the physical element where oxygen being deprived from your brain literally increases the amount of pleasure you feel. And then there's the more psychological level where you are feeling a loss of control and an impending fear that you might die. And while facing your own mortality might be a tantilizing high for some, Donovan was not into dying that night. 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. (AUDIO)
    There was no longer a doubt in Donovan's mind that this new stranger 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 begins 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. 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 symptoms 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.
        The first is Reckless Disregard for the safety of others. LOL Isn't this obvious since he's 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.) The second thing is 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). The third thing is 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, and was consistently known to his peers as an outcast. While in college at Indiana University, he studied anatomy, and this suggests a fixation with the construction and deconstruction of the body—which is common in serial killers. But where he differs from a lot of popular serial killers is the social aspect, or being even kind-of liked by his peers. Take somebody like Ted Bundy or Charlie Manson. People find them very charming and ingratiating, but Baumeister had a prankster mentality and a bizarre sense of humor.
          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. 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 ambition paid off and he thrived as an independent business man.
         

Modern image of Fox Hollow Farm from the Syfy Channel

Modern image of Fox Hollow Farm from the Syfy Channel

Because they were so successful, in 1991, they moved to a huge mansion, called Fox Hollow Farm on eighteen-and-a-half acres, 20 miles outside of the city, hoping to live the typical American Dream with their three kids.
          However, their happily ever after was cut short as 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 be 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. Also, the fact that she had never seen him naked hints at a sense of shame he might have had about his own sexuality, maybe even sexual repression.
           You might be listening to this thinking any one of these is a red flag. 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? But before we get too judgemental, let's put this into perspective. Imagine your loved one, your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife. Now imagine they are secretly a killer, a mass-murderer. Could anyone in your life convince you that this is true? What would it take for them to convince you? We can't underestimate the power of denial. Maybe it would take something tangible, like a photo or a body....... For Juliana, that day came in 1994 when her ten-year-old son took her out to the backyard to find bones and a human skull, and asked "Mom, what's this?" In this investigate report, Julie Baumeister recounts how it felt to discover the remains of human bodies in her backyard.

 

Herb & Julie Baumeister, newly engaged

Herb & Julie Baumeister, newly engaged

    It's been a couple years since the night Donovan Baxter narrowly escaped being murdered, and police are still looking for "Brian Smart" who we now know is 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 is out in the world on an ordinary day in 1994, and spots "Brian Smart" again. "Brian" is sitting in his car at a stop sign and Donovan is able to write down his license plate number. He calls into the police station and reports the license plate number, reminding them that "Brian Smart" tried to kill him at his home and also probably killed his missing friend, Roger Goodlet.
    The police immediately investigate and find that "Brian Smart" is an alias for a man named Herb Baumeister. When they come to the door of Fox Hollow Farm, Baumeister is uncooperative, and without more evidence police are unable to investigate further.
    Driven by escalating paranoia that he's been found out, Baumeister unravels. Within the six months after police visit his door—his business, marriage and mental health crumble.
    Bewildered and shocked after their son finds a skull in the backyard, Juliana finally understands the gravity of the situation. This is when 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. Alone in his hotel room, Herb Baumeister finds out his home is being searched, and knowing that it is littered with bodies, he feels his freedom slip through his fingers. This infamous investigation uncovers 5,500 bones and teeth buried at the residence of Herb Baumeister. The corpses are barely identifiable, but the few of them that are—confirmed Donovan Baxter's story of "Brian Smart."
        Upon even further investigation and his name and face surfacing to the public, Baumeister is tied to the 1-70 stranglings, less than a decade before. This was a series of nine murders across Interstate 70 in Indiana and Ohio that police were still trying to solve. Many believe that Herb Baumeister's face match the drawings of witness sightings of this infamous "I-70 strangler." Also, because none of the bodies were found for these murders, many believe that they were the unidentified bodies on Fox Hollow Farm.
        While on vacation, Baumeister hears word of the investigation and panics, fleeing 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."

Random image of a gay bar in the early 1990's (Credit here)

Random image of a gay bar in the early 1990's (Credit here)

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. Herb Baumeister targeted intoxicated and disarmed gay men at bars. Targeting gay men of similar look, size, etc. suggests Baumeister had 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 was 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 is 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.
    As a weird sidenote, before anyone knew he was an infamous serial killer, Herb Baumeister was interviewed by his local news station for finding a photographing a dead animal on the side of the highway. Wonder why he was hanging out near the highway? It's shocking too, that this story made the news—just shows how truly small-town it was, and furthermore just shows how shocked everyone was to find out about their own resident serial killer. We're not talking about some hardened inner-city was violence and murder run rampant, we're talking about a sleepy, conservative, rural community where painted squirrels on the freeway make the news.

You don't always know people the way you think you do.

In the case of Juliana Baumeister, she lived on top of a mass gravesite for more than a decade and slept next to a serial killer and never knew. 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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—Corey Stewart, 
Writer, Editor & Host
@corstew91