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.

This Day In Infamy: July 3

Herbert Richard Baumeister in a 1986 mugshot.

1996: Herb Baumeister Eats His Last Peanut Butter Sandwich

July 3, 1996 – Suspected serial killer Herb Baumeister kills himself with a single gunshot to the head rather than answer questions regarding human remains on his Westfield estate. In his suicide note, the founder of Sav-A-Lot thrift stores states his intention to eat his favorite snack, a peanut butter sandwich, and then “go to sleep.”

The remains of eleven men were found on his property, only eight of whom were eventually identified.

He is also suspected of being the I-70 Strangler, killing at least nine and dumping their bodies along the interstate between Indianapolis and Ohio.

This Day in Infamy: Woman Drives Wrong Way on Highway, Kills Seven





Judy Kirby exits the Morgan County courthouse, May 2001.

On March 25, 2000, a Martinsville resident deliberately drove her car into oncoming traffic, killing six children and one adult.

Estimated to have been travelling at over 90 miles per hour, Judy Kirby was headed northbound in the southbound lane of Indiana State Highway 67 when her rammed into a van driven by Thomas Reel (40). Reel and his two children, Jessica (14) and Bradley (13), were killed in the collision. Kirby’s three children, Jordan (12), Joney (9), and Jacob (5)—as well as a nephew she was raising, Jeremy Young (10)—also died.

Kirby was found guilty of seven counts of murder and sentenced to 215 years in prison in connection with the crash. Her request for a new trial was denied in 2016.




Sources:

http://www.dailyjournal.net/2015/03/05/driver_who_killed_7_denied_new_trial_/

https://amp.usatoday.com/story/news/crime/2015/03/05/judy-kirby-get-new-trial-fatal-wrong-way-crash-conviction/24455637/

https://www.hoosiertimes.com/herald_times_online/news/local/judy-kirby-returns-to-court-where-she-was-convicted-for-deaths-of-7-in-2001/article_e92bdc9c-c9d5-585f-a522-03a04f55a183.html

https://www.indystar.com/story/news/history/retroindy/2014/03/25/judy-kirby-wrong-way-driver/6861745/

https://www.indystar.com/story/news/crime/2014/11/07/wrong-way-driver-convicted-killing-asks-new-trial/18650347/

Wenck, Ed. Hoosier Killers: Indiana’s Darkest History. Indianapolis, Blue River Press, 2012.

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: Angel of Death Suspended from Hospital

On March 9, 1995, Orville Lynn Majors was suspended with pay from his nursing position in Vermillion County Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit after supervisors noticed that an usual number of patients died while he was on duty. Although his victim count is believed to be far higher, he was later found guilty of six counts of murder and sentenced to 360 years. In 2017, Majors died of natural causes in prison.

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.

This Day in Infamy: The Hollandsburg Murders

Just after midnight on February 14, 1977, Roger Drollinger (23), Michael Wright (21), Daniel Stonebraker (20), and David Smith (17) forced their way into a remote trailer near Raccoon Lake in Parke County. Within an hour, they had robbed, tortured, and brutally shot five people inside. What they didn’t realize was that someone had survived.

Betty Jane Spencer was watching television with her son Gregory Brooks (22) and stepson Ralph Spencer (14) when four men cut the mobile home’s electricity and kicked in the door. The intruders pulled Reeve Spencer (16) out of bed then ordered everyone to “get down, noses to the ground.” Forcing the family to lay down shoulder-to-shoulder on the living room floor, the armed men ransacked the mobile home. When Raymond Spencer (17) arrived home from work, he was also forced to line up on the ground. The men demanded money and were given everything the blended family had — roughly $30. Then, Betty said, “I heard some clicking noises behind me. Suddenly a shot was fired and a piece of Greg’s head fell right beside my face.”

The home invaders fired a total of eleven shots into their victims. Yet somehow, Betty was still alive. Realizing her attackers believed they’d succeeded in killing her, she remained as still as possible, helplessly playing dead and listening as blood gushed from her sons’ wounds. Once the killers left, she walked through the snow to her neighbor’s house to report the murders of her sons. The detailed eyewitness information she was able to give police eventually led to the convictions of all four men.





This Day in Infamy: The Delphi Murders

Four years ago today, someone killed Liberty “Libby” German and Abigail “Abby” Williams in the woods near Deer Creek in Caroll County. Their families have been waiting for justice ever since.

On the Monday afternoon of February 13, 2017, the eighth-grade girls had the day free from classes at Delphi Community Middle School. Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, they asked Libby’s older sister drop them off at the Delphi Historic Trails around 1:30. A little more than half an hour later, Libby posted a picture of Abby walking along a stretch of abandoned railroad track known as the Monon High Bridge. It was the last sign of life from either girl.


Volunteers found their bodies the next day. They were located in a nearby ravine on the property of 77-year-old Ron Logan. Neither girl’s cause of death was released.

When police recovered the girls’ phones from the scene, they made a chilling discovery. Libby had left behind clues to her own murder. Apparently realizing the danger she and Abby were in, Libby had managed to record the man believed to be their killer.



Police have released two sketches in connection with the case. The first sketch, depicting a middle-aged man with a goatee, was released July 17, 2017. Then, in April of 2019, Indiana State Police announced that their attention had shifted away from the goateed man to a younger, clean-shaven man instead. He was described as a white male between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-10, weighing 180 to 200 pounds, with reddish brown hair. Police also said he possessed “a youthful appearance, but could fall in the age range from his 20s to late-30s.” Authorities did not say what had caused the direction of the investigation to change.

The case remains unsolved.


If you recognize either of these men, or if you were in the area of the Delphi Historic Trails on the day the girls disappeared, police would like to speak with you. Although you can remain anonymous, there’s a $240,000 reward if your tip leads to an arrest.

Email: Abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com

Tip Line: (844) 459-5786

Indiana State Police: (800) 382-7537

Carroll County Sheriff: (765) 564-2413

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.”