May 13, 1931 – James Warren Jones was born to James Thurman Jones and Lynetta Putnam in the small community of Crete. By all accounts, little Jim was a strange, lonely child who was obsessed with religion and death. He also showed signs of delinquency, often stealing and cursing at his adult neighbors.
Forty-seven years later, then-Reverend Jim Jones coerced his followers to commit mass suicide/murder in a Guyanese jungle under the guise of political activism. More than 900 people died that day.
April 28, 1978 – Divorced mother Terry Lee Chasteen was taking her three small children – Misty (5), Stephen (4), and Mark (2) – to the babysitter when another driver motioned for her to pull over. Terry pulled to the side of I-465, and the man pulled in behind her, explaining something was wrong with one of her rear tires. He offered to look at it for her, and the young mother gratefully accepted.
Tragically for Terry and her children, their supposed Good Samaritan was actually a conniving, violent criminal named Steven Timothy Judy. Once he had access to Terry’s car, Judy disabled it under the guise of fixing the nonexistant problem with her tire. Then, when she was unable to drive away, he convinced her to accept a ride.
Within an hour, Terry and all three children were dead.
After initially proclaiming his innocence, Judy later confessed to raping Terry before strangling her to death in full view of her children. Then the remorseless killer threw each of the kids, one by one, as far as he could into the cold water of White Lick Creek and watched as they drowned.
Steven Timothy Judy was executed in Indiana’s electric chair on March 9, 1981.
April 7, 1947 – On this day in Indiana Infamy, Herbert Richard Baumeister was born in Indianapolis to Herbert E. Baumeister and his wife Elizabeth. Almost 50 years later, he was posthumously identified as a serial killer believed to have been responsible for the deaths of at least a dozen men, some of whom he disposed of on his Westfield property.
March 6, 1994 – Convicted killer and Indiana native Larry William Eyler (41) died of complications related to AIDS in the infirmary of the Pontiac Correctional Center (IL). Two days after his death, Eyler’s defense attorney released a posthumous statement in which Eyler confessed to the murders of at least 21 young men. In the confession, he also alleged Robert David Little (52) of Terre Haute had been his accomplice in some of the killings, and was the sole person responsible for the death of Daniel Bridges. Little, an Indiana State University professor with whom Eyler had lived for seven years, was brought up on charges in connection with one of the murders but later acquitted. He then returned to teaching.
February 9, 2005 – After receiving a tip from Missouri authorities, Indianapolis police discovered three bodies buried in basement of a Linwood Avenue residence.
Siblings Kenneth (29) and Kari (18) Allen had been pulled over for speeding in St. Charles County, Missouri the previous day. During a search of their rental car, several suspicious items – including bloody bedding, credit cards, and identification belonging to an elderly couple – were found. When questioned, Kari abruptly admitted to helping her brother kill not only their grandparents, Leander and Betty Bradley, but also their mother, Sharon Allen. Indianapolis police executed a search warrant based on the information and found all three bodies beneath freshly-poured concrete in the basement of the Bradleys’ home.
The motive for all three deaths was the same: Kenneth had wanted his grandfather’s life savings to pay off gambling debts. He pleaded guilty in January 2010 and received a sentence of life in prison without parole, plus 130 years. Kari pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit murder. In April 2010, a judge sentenced her to 38 years in prison, plus two years in community corrections programs.
November 9, 2001: Amanda Van Scyoc, 18, was reportedly last seen alive by her mother, Linda Warner, shortly before the elder woman left for work. Four days later, Amanda’s nude body was found by deer hunters near the Ohio River. An autopsy later revealed both that she’d been strangled to death at least three days prior to her body being found and, according to multiple news reports, semen belonging to her stepfather was collected from her remains. Despite this, no one was ever charged in connection with her death and the case is still officially listed as unsolved.
For more about Amanda’s murder, check in again later this week for the full case write-up. In the meantime, anyone with information is encouraged to contact:
Indiana State Police District Investigative Commander 19411 Highway 41 North Evansville, IN 47725 1-812-867-2079 or 1-800-852-3970
On this day in 1983, the bodies of Jamie Engelking (21), her children Jessica Brown (2) and Brandon Engelking, Jr. (1), along with family friend Amanda Davis (12), were found buried in a shallow grave in Bartholomew County. They had disappeared the previous August when Jamie took the children camping.
Robert Bassett Jr. was found guilty of the murders in 1998 and sentenced to four life sentences without the possibility of parole. The Indiana Supreme Court later overturned that conviction, stating pre-trial publicity had tainted the jury. Bassett was tried and convicted again a couple years later.
On this day in 1897, a vengeful mob broke into the Ripley County Jail and forcibly removed five robbery suspects before lynching them. The vigilantes strung up the suspects’ naked and battered bodies from an elm tree about two blocks from the jail then dispersed a little before 1 AM. It is believed that an estimated 250 people were present during the hanging. Approximately only 800 people lived in Versailles at the time.
The lynching victims were identified as:
LYLE LEVI, 57, shot through the breast then dragged to the tree and hanged
WILLIAM JENKINS, 27, skull crushed in with a stool, noose put around neck, body dragged to the tree and suspended
HENRY SCHULER, 24, skull crushed, body dragged to the tree and suspended
CLIFFORD GORDON, 22, bound, dragged to the tree and hanged
ALBERT ANDREWS, 30, bound, dragged to the tree and hanged
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.