In 1994, Julie Baumeister had been having problems in her marriage. She thought her husband, Herb Baumeister, was acting “off” though people had been saying that about Herb since he was a teen telling lewd jokes and playing with dead animals. He even once urinated on a teacher’s desk. Julie herself must have worried their marriage wasn’t normal for a long time. In their 23 years of marriage she says they’d had sex six times, just enough to produce their three children.
Herb’s family had noted anti-social behavior in Herb since he was a child. In his teens, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but he never received treatment for this diagnosis. Sometime after their marriage Herb was institutionalized by his father for a month with Julie’s blessing but the story surrounding that was that Herb was depressed. Everyone thought he eventually got it together. Herb had always been a hard worker and he started a successful thrift store chain and moved his family into a $1 million, 11,000 square foot, 18-acre estate in Westfield, Indiana they called Fox Hollow Farm.
Still, that year in 1994 Julie thought Herb was acting more strange than usual lately. That’s when her son brought home a human skull. He found it in the woods by their home, the woods that were a part of the family’s estate. She asked her son to lead her to where he found the skull and the 13-year-old led her to a pile of bones.
Like many predators, it’s possible Herb tried to protect himself by grooming his family to bring concerns to him instead of an outsider or the police. Julie didn’t go to the police. She asked Herb about the human remains and he explained that his late father, an anesthesiologist, had given him a medical skeleton. He never explained why he left “his father’s old medical skeleton” in the backyard, and Julie never asked. For years people thought Julie Baumeister was a silly, stupid, or gullible woman. Now that we know more about abuse, I’d venture a guess that she simply thought believing her husband’s story and not asking questions was the safest option for her and her children.
It seems like Julie spent as much time keeping the kids away from Herb as possible. The last few summers, she’d taken the kids to the family’s lakeside condo 100 miles away, leaving Herb to “focus on business” back in Westfield alone. It was during this time that gay men and boys started disappearing from Indianapolis. It wasn’t until one man was shaken enough by a violent sexual encounter with a wealthy man named “Brian Smart” that he came forward to police. “Brian Smart” turned out to be Herb Baumeister.
After five months of investigating Herb, police finally convinced Julie Baumeister to allow them to search Fox Hollow Farm while Herb was out of town at the lake condo. The search ended up taking two weeks. “Hundreds” of human bones were found. Eventually, police identified eight victims, though at least three unidentified bodies were also found. The victims were:
- Johnny Bayer, 20
- Allen Wayne Broussard, 28
- Roger A. Goodlet, 33
- Richard D. Hamilton, 20
- Steven S. Hale, 26
- Jeff Allen Jones, 31
- Michael Kiern, 46
- Manuel Resendez, 31
Three unidentified men
By the time an arrest warrant was issued for Herb Baumeister, he had disappeared. Herb was missing for 8 days before his body was found at a campsite in Canada. His 3-page suicide note blamed stress related to his marriage and business for his suicide and made no mention of the fact that he was on the cusp of being publicly outed as a serial killer of gay men.
Investigators believe that in addition to the bodies found on his property, Herb Baumeister could be responsible for an additional nine murders of men along I-70 in the 1980s.
Unfortunately, many of Herb Baumeister’s victims remain unidentified.
The remaining Baumeister family quickly moved away from Fox Hollow Farm, rumors proliferate that the estate is haunted by the spirits of the men whose bodies were hidden there. The couple who bought the home have seen dismembered spirits in their home and in their woods. One man who lived on the property said “There are places in my house my wife doesn’t like to go – that make her hair stand up on the back of her neck.” The home and surrounding woods have been investigated by countless paranormal groups and has been featured on the TV shows Behind Mansion Walls, Paranormal Witness, Ghost Adventures, True Nightmares and the documentary The Haunting of Fox Hollow Farm.
Here the home’s current owner shows the property and describes paranormal experiences he has had in the home with a team of paranormal investigators: