Wanted: John Dillinger

A 1933 WANTED poster for Indianapolis native and notorious bank robber John Dillinger.

The reward for his capture would double by the following year.

Set Up and Murdered: Dusty Lawrence

Dusty Lawrence, 30, with his wife and child, who were also present at the shooting.

It wasn’t supposed to happen that way.

On March 28th, Dusty Lawrence, his pregnant wife Betsy, and their daughter, five-year-old Madisyn, left their home in Anderson for a trip to Indianapolis. Dusty intended to meet a potential buyer for some items he’d offered for sale on Facebook Marketplace and took his family along for the ride, hoping to share a pleasant Sunday afternoon drive.

He would never make it home again.

Shortly after they arrived at the 3700 block of Rinehall Drive on Indy’s far East side, Dusty was shot at least once while his family watched helplessly from inside the car. Although he was still alive when police arrived on the scene, the young father later died at a local hospital. Neither Betsy or Madisyn were injured in the attack.

Anyone with information on the murder of Dusty Shane Lawrence is urged to contact IMPD (317-327-3475) or Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-TIPS (8477).

On This Day in Infamy: A Serial Killer Exposed

In the predawn hours of April 28, 1908, a fire broke out in a two-story farmhouse in LaPorte. By the time the blaze was extinguished and the ruins sifted through, a serial killer would be exposed and a mystery posed which still remains unsolved to this day.

Brynhild Paulsdatter Storset Sorenson Gunness, better known as Belle Gunness, had a rather unfortunate past. Not only was the hardy hog farmer twice-widowed, but mysterious fires seemed to plague her properties. She’d lost both a candy store and a house in Chicago before purchasing a 48-acre farm on McClung Road in LaPorte, and it was her house that had erupted in flames that early April morning. When the volunteer fire department responded to the blaze, they expected to find the bodies of Belle and her children—Myrtle, 11, Lucy, 9, and Phillip, 5— but ended up finding more than they had bargained for…much more.

By the time the smoldering farm had given up its secrets, at least 13 bodies had been discovered and no one was even sure if Belle’s cadaver was among them. A subsequent investigation revealed she had been running ‘Lonely Hearts’ ads in newspapers, drawing victims to her with the lure of a prosperous farm and the promise of matrimony. The unlucky suitors who responded to her ads were instructed to bring a large cash deposit when they came to visit, in order to prove their financial solvency and worthiness to assume management of the farm. But, once they set foot on the farm, the men were never seen alive again. Belle ruthlessly robbed and killed her unsuspecting visitors before hacking their bodies to pieces and depositing them in various places around her property. The body of Jennie Olsen, Belle’s foster daughter, was also found. Belle had told everyone the girl had gone to school in California.

Ray Lamphere, Belle’s former handyman and occasional lover, was eventually convicted of arson, but he was never convicted of murder because no one was certain that the body found in the burned-down farmhouse belonged to Belle, or if it was she who had killed the children. For one thing, the corpse in question was quite a bit smaller than Belle had been in life, and there were reported sightings of her long after the fire. On his deathbed, Lamphere allegedly told at least one person that he’d taken Belle to a train station after the fire was set and she was waiting for him, living in disguise as a man, until they could be reunited.

Supposed sightings of Belle continued for years. In 1931, a California woman living under the name of Esther Carlson was accused of poisoning a man for his money. It was thought that the woman might be Belle living under an alias, but she died awaiting trail and before a definitive identification could be made. However, former LaPorte residents viewed the woman’s remains and stated that they did indeed believe the woman to be Belle.

In the end, no one knows how much money Belle made from her lethal scheme, just how many people she killed, or even the true circumstances under which she actually died. The bloody mystery of Belle Gunness, LaPorte’s murderous matron, still remains unsolved today.

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”

Unsolved Mysteries: Unidentified Victims of Serial Killer Larry Eyler

Indiana authorities are hopeful advanced DNA technology will help return the names to two unidentified males discovered deceased in 1983. Both are claimed victims of serial offender Larry Eyler.

The DNA Doe Project has been entrusted with applying forensic genealogy resources to track down the identity of both males. “Adam Doe” is a black male that was between 15 to 18 years old at the time of his death in 1983. He was tall standing between 5’8″ to 6’2″ and had short black hair. The investigation revealed he may have been seen hitchhiking during the Summer of 1983 in Terre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana.”Brad Doe” is a white male that was 17 to 23 years old at the time of his death in 1983. He had medium length reddish brown hair and stood around 5’5″ tall. He had two tattoos on his right forearm and had severely fractured his nose earlier in life.

Please call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST if you have any information that could help identify either of these males.

This Day in Infamy: 13-yr-old Found Strangled Near Pogue’s Run

March 18, 1986, the body of Dawn Stuard, an eighth-grader at Forest Manor Junior High, was found facedown in the mud along the banks of Pogues Run on the east side of Indianapolis. The location was just seven blocks from her home.

More than twenty-five years later, Paul Reese, Sr. was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering the girl after witnesses and DNA evidence tied him to her killing. At the time of his murder trial, Reese was already incarcerated in connection with a crime spree which had resulted in the shooting of IMPD Officer Jason Fishburn. He was sentenced to an additional sixy years for taking Dawn’s life.

This Day in Infamy: Death was the Punishment for Poor Grades


People who knew father David Wayne Johnson, 50, described him as “an excellent employee who took an active interest in his son.” That “active interest” resulted in him beating the boy to death.

On Monday, March 4, 2002, Johnson received a call from one of his son’s teachers at Prarie Heights High School. The teacher wanted to touch base because he was concerned about Kyle’s performance in class, particularly since the freshman had recently moved in with his father and even transferred schools in an attempt to raise his grades. Apparently, the boy’s efforts had failed to meet expectationswith horrifying results.

After an altercation that went on for hours, David Johnson called 911 later that same night, explaining that he and Kyle had “a little fight.” Although the boy was unresponsive, David claimed he “didn’t hit him hard,” and his son was “just a 15-year-old kid who doesn’t want to go to school and doesn’t want to do homework and he laughs at everything I say.”

Kyle was airlifted to a local hospital, but it was too late. He was DOA.

His father later confessed to slapping, kicking and punching Kyle. He further admitted that, after Kyle had been knocked to the ground, he rolled the boy onto his stomach, sat on his back, and punched him in the back of the head. A ligature of some kind was used to choke the teen. An autopsy would eventually determine his cause of death was a lascerated liver caused by blunt force trauma and strangulation.

David Johnson was initially offered a plea deal by LaGrange County Prosecutor Tim Cain which could have resulted in the killer serving only five years with time off for good behavior. Judge George E. Brown rejected that plea as too lenient, and Johnson was subsequently offered another deal. On November 6, 2002, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for a sentence of twenty years in prison.

“I don’t think he meant to kill Kyle,” the teen’s mother, Terry Stephenson, said after her ex-husband’s appearance in court. “But he did.”




Sources:
1. Stoner, Andrew E. Notorious 92. Bloomington, Rooftop Publishing, 2007.
2. https://www.kpcnews.com/article_a7fb56b3-80a2-5c2e-b465-4fb28cee5515.html
3. https://www.kpcnews.com/article_c0502e11-4c9c-5c4b-be3f-a2d9e0f0bf7c.html

This Day in Infamy: Two Men Sentenced to Execution

Portions of Harry Miller's body were found along the banks of a lake near Carrolltown, Kentucky.

On February 25, 1937, Franklin County Judge Roscoe C. O’Byrne sentenced two men, John J. Poholsky and Frank Gore Williams, to be executed for their participation in a grisly murder scheme. The two ex-cons, along with co-conspirators Heber “Jimmy” Hicks and William A. Kuhlman, had killed and dismembered retired fire captain Harry R. Miller of New Trenton, Indiana in a plot to steal the dead man’s wealth. The corpse was then disposed of in various locations, including along the banks of a lake near Carrolltown, Kentucky (pictured above). Eventually, all four men would be put to death for the crime.