INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana authorities have identified an Indianapolis man who disappeared in 1993 as the ninth suspected victim of a long-dead businessman suspected in a series of murders in the 1980s and 1990s, a medical examiner said Tuesday.
A bone recovered from Herbert Baumeister’s property in Indianapolis in 1996 was identified as Allen Livingston’s remains through forensic genetic genealogy testing thanks to a DNA swab sample provided by his mother, Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison said.
Livingston was 27 when he was reported missing to Indianapolis police in August 1993, the coroner said.
His identification makes Livingston the ninth suspected victim of Baumeister identified by investigators among about 10,000 charred bones and bone fragments found on Baumeister’s sprawling property, Jellison said.
Baumeister was 49 when he killed himself in Canada in July 1996 as investigators sought to question him about human remains discovered at Fox Hollow Farm, his 7.3-acre property in Westfield, a town in Hamilton County , which is a few miles north of Indianapolis.
Investigators believed that Baumeister, a married father of three who frequently visited gay bars, lured men to his home and killed them. By 1999, authorities had linked him to the disappearances 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 announced last year a renewed attempt to identify the charred bones and fragments by asking relatives of young men who disappeared between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s to submit DNA samples. He said investigators believe the bones and fragments could represent the remains of at least 25 people.
Livingston’s family prompted the re-identification effort, Jellison said, when one of his cousins called him last year and said his family believed Livingston may have been among the remains found on Baumeister’s property. Jellison said the cousin told him Livingston’s mother was sick “and the family would like to give her some peace.”
Jellison said he marveled at the fact that Livingston’s remains were the first to be identified from 44 individual bones or fragments that have since been sent to the Indiana State Police Laboratory for analysis for DNA extraction.
“What is the probability that out of 10,000 remains remain? Out of 10,000, we selected 44 and the first identification is a person from the family who initiated this whole thing,” he said. “Where does it come from?”
Jellison said he called Livingston’s mother on Monday to break the news after state police lab employees informed him that they had managed to identify the bone as belonging to her son.
“Yesterday was an emotional day in our office,” he said. “We have identified a person who has been missing for 30 years. This person is likely a murder victim. So our initial reaction was to celebrate the success of our work, but we very quickly turned to the harsh reality that we have another murder victim.”
Jellison said many of the thousands of bones and fragments recovered from Baumeister’s property were both burned and crushed. In studies based on DNA, he said, “those are probably the two worst things you can do to preserve remains.”
The original study in the 1990s collected 11 human DNA samples from bones and bone fragments. Eight of those people, all young men, were identified and matched with DNA samples, with Livingston now the ninth to be identified, Jellison said.
Four additional DNA profiles have been created from the bones and fragments and work is underway to compare them with DNA samples provided by relatives of other missing men, he said.
So far, more than 30 families have provided DNA samples, and Jellison hopes more families will submit more samples.
“If you have someone who went missing in the 1980s to mid-1990s, please contact us,” he said, “because we do not know the extent of this crime.”