Historic Infamy: Peoples Temple and the Beginning of the End

A newspaper ad for the first Peoples Temple, a multicultural church founded in Indianapolis by an ambitious young Jim Jones.

A little more than twenty years after the ad ran, Jones would engineer the murder and mass suicide of more than 900 people in Guyana.

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.

In Their Own Words: John Dillinger


“All my life I wanted to be a bank robber. Carry a gun and wear a mask. Now that it’s happened I guess I’m just about the best bank robber they ever had. And I sure am happy.”

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.

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).

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.

Just The Facts: The Burger Chef Murders

Date: November 17, 1978

Place: 5725 Crawfordsville Road in Speedway, Indiana

Perpetrators:  (unknown)

Claim to Infamy: Four young employees, Daniel Davis (16), Mark Flemmonds (16), Jayne Friedt (20), and Ruth Ellen Shelton (17), were abducted from the restaurant when they were closing up for the night. Their bodies were discovered two days later in a wooded lot in Johnson County. Ruth Ellen and Daniel had been shot to death, while Jayne had been stabbed twice in the heart with a hunting knife. Mark died choking on his own blood after receiving a blow to the head. Although robbery is the presumed motive, less than $600 was taken from the registers.  Additional money in the girls’ purses and the store safe was left untouched.

Current Status: Unsolved

Random Disturbing Fact: Daniel was new to the Friday night crew. The girl who’d previously worked that shift quit the week before, and he took her spot.  It was his first ─ and last ─ Friday night working until close.


Anyone with information regarding this crime is encouraged to call the Indiana State Police (317) 232-8248 .

In Their Own Words: Ricky Hobbs

stopping at slowyear 

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t know Sylvia that well. It was just a casual relationship.”

– Ricky Hobbs describing his “relationship” with Sylvia Likens, the girl he helped torture to death. Among other sadistic acts, Ricky helped brand the words “I’m a prostitute and proud of it” into the girl’s stomach with a needle.

Just The Facts: Larry Eyler

eyler

Name: Larry William Eyler

Known Aliases: (none)

Murder Moniker: The Highway Killer

Date of Birth: December 21, 1952

Claim to Infamy: While in prison for the dismemberment and murder of Chicago teenager Danny Bridges, Eyler confessed to 21 other murders.

Indiana Connection: Born in Crawfordsville, Eyler later lived in Lebanon, Fort Wayne, and Terre Haute. Among other jobs he held, he was a Pinkerton guard at Marion County General Hospital and the manager of a public assistance program in Vigo County. Though he never earned a degree, he attended Indiana State University. Eyler hunted his victims and disposed of their mutilated bodies in several places in the state, as well as in Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

Current Status: On March 6, 1994, Larry Eyler died in prison of complications from AIDS.

Random Disturbing Fact: In his confession, Eyler named at least two accomplices. They were never brought to justice.