This Day in Infamy: Michael Wayne Jackson Begins Murder Spree

On this date in 1986, Michael “Mike” Wayne Jackson (41) shot and killed probation officer Tom Gahl during a home visit. Jackson fled, setting off a three state crime spree during which he is suspected of committing kidnappings and two other murders in his effort to evade law enforcement. Briefly named to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, Jackson was cornered in a Wright City, Missouri barn where he ended his own life with a self-inflicted shotgun wound ten days later.

This Day in Infamy: The Osbourne Family Murders

Sometime in the late evening of September 17, 1983, the Osbourne family of Fort Wayne were bludgeoned in their home. Killed were father R. Daniel Osborne (35), his wife, Jane (34), their son, Ben (11), and the family dog. The couple’s daughter, Caroline (2), was also beaten but managed to survive. Both Jane and Caroline had been sexually assaulted. Almost unimaginably, the tragedy was not discovered for two days, during which time the toddler was left alone with the corpses of her parents and brother. When rescued, she reportedly told police “Mommy and Daddy are sleeping.”

After being charged with an unrelated crime four months later, Calvin Perry III (18), apparently confessed to killing the Osbournes. But he would never be put on trial for the crimes. Perry was found dead, hanging in his cell, within 48 hours of his incarceration. His guilt is still debated to this day.

Just The Facts: The LaSalle Street Murders

Photo courtesy of The Indianapolis Star

Date: November 30, 1971

Place: 1318 North LaSalle Street, Indianapolis

Perpetrators: Fred Harbison and Ted Uland, perhaps unnamed others

Claim to Infamy: At least one person entered into the home shared by businessmen Bob Gierse and Bob Hinson, killing both men, along with their friend James Barker. The victims’ throats were cut so deeply in the attack, they were almost beheaded. The multiple murder was one of the most sensational crimes to occur in the state at the time.

Current Status: After decades of rumors and allegations against various individuals, in 1998, Fred Harbison wrote a deathbed confession to the killings. In his letter, he stated he had been hired to act as a hitman by Ted Uland, Gierse and Hinson’s former employer. Uland possessed insurance policies on both men that were about to expire. He also believed Gierse and Hinson had stolen several thousand dollars from him and wanted revenge. The third victim, James Baker, had been killed because he came to the house to visit his friends and happened upon the murders in progress.
            Unfortunately, Uland had preceded Harbison in death. In 2003, the case was granted an exceptional clearance and declared closed.

Random Disturbing Fact: Although theft was apparently a motive for the crime, in a no-honor-among-felons twist, Uland reneged on their deal and refused to pay Harbison for the murders.

This Day in Infamy: Mollie’s Down in the Well

Mollie Starbuck

July 9, 1904 – William Starbuck returns from a “trip to town” and cannot find his wife Mollie or infant daughter. After a thorough search of their Greensboro farm, he hears the distant sound of a woman’s shrieks. Following the shouts into the forest, the desperate man finally traces their source to an abandoned cistern where he finds Mollie. Bruised and raving at the bottom of the well, she’s screaming about being chased by a monster, and the body of baby Beulah’s is floating in the water beside her.

Mollie dies two days later without ever regaining her sanity. She is buried in the same grave as her child.

Although her physician proposes that Mollie was suffering hallucinations brought on by postpartum depresssion which then caused her to kill both herself and her daughter, a reward worth more than $10,000 in today’s currency is offered to anyone who can prove otherwise. A freelance detective soon provides a likely young suspect, Haley Gipe. Gipe is eventually convicted on shoddy evidence and serves six years in connection with the crime.

In Their Own Words: Belle Gunness

Beginning in the summer of 1905, the following ‘lonely hearts’ ad began appearing in Norwegian-language newspapers. Translated into English, it read:

WANTED—A woman who owns a beautifully located and valuable farm in first class condition, wants a good and reliable man as partner in same. Some little cash is required and will be furnished first class security.

Anyone interested in the ad was directed to contact “B.G.” in care of the newspaper.

D.J. Hunter, Belle’s postman at her LaPorte Farm, later said she often received as many as eight to ten letters per day from hopeful love interests, including several of her future victims.

Cold Case: Jerry Michael “Mike” Bayles Jr.

In the early hours of a chilly October morning in 1970, a ten-year-old Indianapolis boy left home to deliver newspapers to his neighbors. Three hours later, his nude body was found discarded along a rural road fifteen miles from his home. He had been stabbed to death.

The events surrounding the murder are as strange as they are tragic. For one thing, the paper route actually belonged to one of Mike’s brothers. Gordon “Bud” Bayles, fifteen, was a delivery boy for the Star but had been employed only about five weeks. According to a statement Bud gave at the time, Mike had volunteered to run the route for him that Saturday. It was a decision that quite possibly cost the younger boy his life.

Shortly before six, a customer toward the start of the route heard the soft smack of a newspaper hitting her porch and then a scream. She looked out her window but saw only the passing headlights of a car. Another customer, William H. Johnson, found the boy’s bicycle and bag when he stepped outside for his paper about half an hour later. A later count of the newspapers in the bag revealed only two were missing, indicating that whatever had happened to Mike must have occurred just after he began the route. The following day, a third witness came forward claiming he’d seen a man dragging a boy into a car at knifepoint in the same location where the bike and bag were later found. The witness said he’d called out to the man, questioning him, but the knife-wielding man had claimed to be the boy’s father. Mike apparently had not contradicted this claim, and the witness did not report what he’d seen until he heard about the murderered child the next day. A polygraph test indicated the witness was telling the truth. Unfortunately, he was unable to provide a good description of either the man he’d spoken to or another, smaller man he thought he’d seen waiting in the car.

Mike’s body was found by a Knightstown farmer later that same morning. Wearing only in socks and left alongside a gravel road, the fifth-grader had been stabbed eight times in the back and abdomen. Although an autopsy would eventually determine he had not been sexually assaulted, police refused to rule it out as a motive. The rest of Mike’s clothes and the weapon used to commit the crime were never found. Since DNA fingerprinting had not yet been discovered at the time, neither the child’s corpse nor the newspaper bag could be tested for trace evidence. (It is unknown whether any forensic evidence was preserved for potential testing in the future.) When a grand jury declined to indict an escaped psychiatric patient for the crime despite a history of sex crimes against minors, Prosecutor Nobel R. Pearcy cited a lack of evidence for the failure.

Anyone with information concerning the murder of Jerry “Mike” Bayles is strongly encouraged to contact Indiana State Police @ 1-765-778-2121 or 1-800-527-4752.

A Little Ditty About A Serial Killer

Inspiration strikes in the strangest of places.

Belle Gunness was a lady fair

In Indiana State.

She weighed about three hundred pounds,

And that is quite a weight.

That she was stronger than a man

Her neighbors all did own;

She butchered hogs quite easily,

And did it all alone.

But hogs were just a sideline

She indulged in now and then;

Her favorite occupation

Was a-butchering of men

Anonymous, “The Ballad of Belle Gunness”

This Day in Infamy: Fort Wayne Authorities Apprehend “Desperado”


From The Indianapolis News, February 8, 1871:

“Fort Wayne, February 8 On Monday last, Rueben Stevens was arrested near here, as being one of the ringleaders of a mob who took from the Allen County, Kansas, jail a man named Dotson, charged with murder in the first degree, last June. The charge against Dotson was such an aggravated one that the citizens took the law into their own hands. Stevens being identified was arrested, but made his escape, and has been hunted through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina, and was finally arrested. He is now confined in our county jail awaiting a requisition from Kansas.”

Historic Infamy: Indiana State Reformatory

c. 1911

“The present day Pendleton Correctional Facility can trace its origin to the banks of the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The first Indiana State Prison was constructed in Jeffersonville in 1821. In 1861, the facility at Michigan City was established and Jeffersonville became known as the Indiana State Prison South and the institution at Michigan City was designated as the Indiana State Prison North. The housing of offenders was primarily determined by the geographical location of the sentencing court whereby the old National Road (U.S. 40) was established as the dividing line.

In 1897, as a result of the penological reform movement prevalent at that time, the Jeffersonville facility was designated as the Indiana Reformatory.”

IN.gov
IDOC: Facility History