Bodies in the Backyard: The Herb Baumeister Story
Learn about this horrific serial killer who hunted for prey at bars.
Many serial killers have disappeared over the ages and never been found, but few have been this close to capture. At the point where police confirmed that Herb Baumeister was the killer that they were looking for, he disappeared until he was found dead from suicide. For this reason, he was never truly brought to justice, at least not in any kind of legal way. Despite his lack of trial, police are completely convinced that he was the man responsible for many terrible crimes.
A Strange Man
Despite his normal upbringing, Baumeister didn’t exactly grow up normal. Friends knew him to have certain concerning behaviors, often showing anti-social habits that most parents don’t want to see. In school, he had a poor reputation and was often seen doing strange things. Not that he was the bad-boy type, but that he freaked the other students out.
Several peers came forward and told investigators he would play with the bodies of dead animals. It is unclear whether he killed the animals in question. As he grew up, the strange boy grew to be a strange man. Though he was a good worker, his coworkers found him odd.
A History of Psychosis
As he grew older, those close to Baumeister noticed that something was off about him. At a young age, doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia. As he aged, he seemed increasingly disturbed, warranting concerns from his wife and father. At one point, he was even institutionalized. This time, he received treatment and seemed to come out better than ever. He could even find success in opening his own business.
Finding the Perfect Victims
In most instances, it was eventually determined that Baumeister’s victims were all gay men. They all had a similar look, and more often than not they were picked up from gay bars in various areas. These victims did not simply disappear. People knew they were vanishing, but hadn’t figured out how. Like most serial killers, Baumeister’s victims had a lot of similarities, which is likely how he chose his victims. He would reportedly hang out at the bar until he could take someone home, where they would eventually be killed. Some believe that he built his choice of victims around a repressed homosexual urge, citing his wife’s admission that they had only had intercourse twice in nearly three decades.
His Would-Be Capture and Evasion
A victim’s friend would ultimately be the downfall of Baumeister. This friend could tell the police who had killed his friend. Even though Baumeister had given a fake name, the friend could describe him and lead the police right to Baumeister. Police alerted Baumeister to this without arresting him, which compelled him to flee across the country into Canada. In Canada, Baumeister killed himself, citing marital troubles and poor business decisions. There was no mention of the murders.
An action like this is easy to take as an admission of guilt, but the police didn’t stop there. Baumeister’s wife was incredibly worried about the legal development and allowed police to search the property. On the property, they found 11 bodies in total. Pairing this with a wide string of other bodies that had been found in various rivers similarly, Baumeister’s killings were extensive.
Though he was never charged for his crimes, a killer is off the streets. Looking at a picture of him, you would find Baumeister to be unassuming and far from threatening, but images can be misleading. This mousy man was a notorious serial killer, trapping, strangling, and killing many men throughout Indiana. On record, we believe Baumeister to have been involved with a minimum of 20 killings in his area.