Investigators believed Baumeister, a married father of three who frequented gay bars, lured men to his home and killed them. By 1999, authorities had linked him to the disappearance of at least 16 men since 1980, including several whose bodies were found dumped in shallow streams in rural central Indiana and western Ohio.
Jellison said in a news release that investigators believe the 10,000 charred bones and fragments found at Baumeister’s property could represent the remains of at least 25 people.
He said 11 human DNA samples were extracted from the bones during the original investigation in the 1990s. Eight of those people, all young men, were identified and matched to DNA samples, but the three remaining DNA profiles are of unknown individuals, Jellison said.
Jellison, who takes office in January as the Hamilton County coroner, said in a news release that it “is not acceptable” the skeletal remains have sat on a shelf for about a quarter-century. He said “we need to make every effort possible to identify these people and return them to their loved ones.”
Jellison said the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office is partnering with the University of Indianapolis’ forensic archaeology laboratory, Indiana State Police and other law enforcement agencies to determine if some of the remains can be used to create additional DNA profiles.
Jellison said that so far about 100 bones have been identified that may be viable for DNA extraction.
He is encouraging relatives of young men who went missing from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s to submit a DNA sample to aid in the identification efforts. Anyone with a friend who went missing during that time-frame can also provide tips to investigators, Jellison said.
DNA was a relatively new investigative tool a quarter-century ago, but DNA profiling now “has become faster and more user-friendly,” Jellison said.
“These remains represent people. These people are someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s father. They’re not just a box of bones. They’re people and we have to pursue it,” he said.