Saturday, December 1, 2012

I-70 Killer


Interstate 70 runs from Baltimore, Maryland to Cove Fort, Utah. Beginning in April 1992, the highway has lent its name to a serial killer known as the "Interstate 70 Killer," who has committed a string of murders within a few miles of it in several Midwestern states. The first victim was Robin Fuldauer, 26, who was killed April 8, 1992 at a Payless ShoeSource store in Indianapolis, Indiana. Three days later, Patricia Magers, 32, and Patricia Smith, 23, were slain in a Wichita, Kansas bridal shop. On May 3, 1992, Nancy Kitzmiller, 24, was going to start a government job when she was murdered at a Western boot shop in St. Charles, a suburb of St. Louis. Missouri. Sarah Blessing 37, was slain in a gift shop at a local mall in the Kansas City suburb of Raytown four days later on May 7. At 3:30pm, an auctioneer saw a mysterious unidentified man walk in and out of his store suspiciously. Minutes later, Tim Hickman, who owned a video store next to Sarah saw a man walk past his store and went into the gift shop. He then heard a loud pop and saw the man walk around the corner near the store. A grocery clerk collecting shopping carts saw the man climb a hill to Interstate 70 and vanish. Meanwhile, Tim went into the gift shop and found Sarah's body. Ballistics test confirmed that all women were killed by the same person, and the gun was linked to another victim. On April 27, 1992, ceramics store clerk Michael 'Mick' McCown was murdered in Terre Haute, Indiana, possibly because he was mistaken for a woman.

There are also possible links to four more deaths along Interstates 35 and 45 in Texas. On Sept. 25, 1993, antiques store clerk Mary Ann Glasscock, 51, was killed execution-style in an Fort Worth, Texas antique store and Amy Vess, 22, was murdered Nov. 1, 1993, while working at a dancewear shop in Arlington, Texas. Witnesses describe the killer as a thin white man, 5' 7" to 5' 9," mid-20s to early 30s, with sandy blond hair with a reddish tint and day-old beard stubble. The best lead in the case came from Witchita in the Smith/Majors murder. Shortly after the two were shot, a man came to pick up a commerbun for his tuxedo and was confronted by the killer. Surprisingly, he let the eyewitness leave without injury. The man went to police and helped create a composite of the killer.

There are also possible links to four more deaths along Interstates 35 and 45 in Texas. On Sept. 25, 1993, antiques store clerk Mary Ann Glasscock, 51, was killed execution-style in an Fort Worth, Texas antique store and Amy Vess, 22, was murdered Nov. 1, 1993, while working at a dancewear shop in Arlington, Texas. Witnesses describe the killer as a thin white man, 5' 7" to 5' 9," mid-20s to early 30s, with sandy blond hair with a reddish tint and day-old beard stubble. The best lead in the case came from Witchita in the Smith/Majors murder. Shortly after the two were shot, a man came to pick up a commerbun for his tuxedo and was confronted by the killer. Surprisingly, he let the eyewitness leave without injury. The man went to police and helped create a composite of the killer.
Herb Baumeister from Westfield, Indiana, was suspected of being the killer, but he committed suicide after numerous human bones were discovered on his estate. The bones turned out to be male; Baumeister was alleged to have killed male homosexuals and could not be linked to the murders of the women. Donald Michael Prince, later Donald Albin Blom, convicted in the murder of Kathlyn "Katie" Elizabeth Poirier and a second unknown victim since has also been named as a suspect in the I-70 killings. He was known to be suffering from throat cancer, which is now in remission, and to have owned a .22 semi automatic similar to that which killed Patricia Magers and Patricia Smith.


The so-called “I-70 killer” remains elusive 20 years after a multi-state crime spree, but police say they haven’t given up on the case.
Authorities believe the same man was responsible for killing six people in five Midwestern cities in April and May of 1992. Four of the killings occurred in strip malls along Interstate 70 — two in Missouri, two in Indiana. The other two victims were at a bridal shop near Interstate 35 in Wichita, Kan.
The killer’s victims included Sarah Hart Blessing, a 1973 graduate of Shawnee Heights High School at Tecumseh. Blessing, 37, was fatally shot May 7, 1992, at a retail store where she worked in Raytown, Mo.
Another victim was Nancy Kitzmiller, 24, who worked at Boot Village in St. Charles, Mo., near St. Louis. Customers found her body in a back room of the small store.
St. Charles police on Wednesday provided previously unreleased information in hopes of generating new leads. Lt. David Senter said that based on ballistic evidence and witness statements, the weapon was a .22-caliber gun, possibly an Intratec Scorpion or Erma Werke Model ET 22. Ammunition was CCI brand .22-caliber long rifle, copper-clad lead bullets.
Senter said the case remains open, even if finding the killer all these years later is something of a longshot.
“The investigator met with (Kitzmiller’s) family last week,” Senter said. “That brings it home because they are still around, still here. It’s a constant thing for them.”
Nancy Kitzmiller’s father, Don Kitzmiller, didn’t have a listed phone number. But he recently told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the pain remains.
“It’s not cold to us,” Kitzmiller said. “It happened yesterday to us. To lose a child is something you never get over.”
Police cite common factors in all six killings. All the victims worked at small shops near the interstates, mostly businesses with just an employee or two, Senter said. Five of the victims were women and police believe the killer mistook the lone male, who wore his hair long, for a woman. All six were shot in the head. In most cases, a small amount of money was taken, though police said robbery was incidental.
“Killing was the motivation, no doubt in my mind,” said Lt. Mike Hennessey, a Wichita detective assigned to the case.
The spree began April 8, 1992, in Indianapolis, where 26-year-old Robin Fuldauer was killed at a Payless shoe store. Three days later, Patricia Magers, 32, and Patricia Smith, 23, were shot to death at La Bridal shop in Wichita.
The lone male victim, 40-year-old Michael McCown, was killed at his shop, Sylvia’s Ceramics, in Terre Haute, Ind., on April 27, 1992.
Kitzmiller was killed May 3, 1992. Four days later on the other side of Missouri, Blessing was shot to death at the Store of Many Colors in Raytown, a gift shop near Kansas City.
“It started and ended very quickly,” Hennessey said. “It just happened in such a short period of time and he seemed to pick his victims very carefully. Something set him off.”
Perhaps the best description of the killer came in Raytown. A neighboring video store owner saw a man enter the gift shop, then heard a pop. A grocery clerk saw the man climb a hill to I-70, then vanish. The video store owner found Blessing’s body.
Authorities believe the killer was a white male in his mid-20s to mid-30s, probably closer to mid-30s, Senter said. That would make him in his mid-50s if still alive.
The same killer may have been responsible for three crimes in Texas in 1993 and 1994 in which women at small shops were targeted. Two of those victims died, and one survived a bullet to the neck.
Crime-fighting technology has improved vastly since the early 1990s, especially DNA technology. But police said the killer simply left little to go on.
“Since none of this was sexual crime-based and we have no prints to work with, DNA is out of the question,” Hennessey said. “What cracks most of these cases is the killer talks. But serial killers don’t tell anyone. That’s how they get away with it.”

2 comments:

  1. Mary Ann was a dear friend and mentor - I miss her

    ReplyDelete