I am going to die. The thought runs through your head as he tightens the grip around your neck and pushes you down below the surface of the water. You reach back and try to hit him, scratch him, do something to get him off of you and although, you are almost the same size, it is not a fair battle. He had seemed nice and charming, bought you drinks and eventually invited you back to his house to see his mansion and the indoor pool. He seemed successful, he seemed like the kind of guy you wanted to meet.
In the early 1990s, multiple men started disappearing in the state of Indiana. They were all young, openly gay, and seem to vanish without a trace. Little did anyone know, they were all hidden in the same place.
On the outskirts of Indianapolis there is a mansion. Behind the main house, you will find the woods and in between the trees, hundreds of bones were found scattered. Each victim had been strangled and carried outside to the edge of the woods, where their bodies were set on fire and their bones were scattered throughout the woods behind the farm. By the driveway there is a sign that reads: “Fox Hollow Farm”.
The mansion on the 18-acrer estate is breathtaking but despite the beauty of the million-dollar home, the feeling you get when you look at it is strange. Although it is daylight and you can faintly hear birds singing, you know something is just not right. You feel like someone is watching you, like someone is standing in each of the dark windows, looking out at you.
The house was owned by Herb Baumeister, who used to live in the house with his wife and three small children. Baumeister was the founder of the thrift store chain Sav-a-Lot in Indiana, was well-liked and respected in the community. He seemed to have come a long way, considering the troubles he had as a child. The young Baumeister had been antisocial, had been caught playing with dead animals, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. However, as he grew older, he developed a strong work ethic and although he still was exhibiting bizarre behavior, no one seemed worried. In the early 90s, Baumister began visiting gay bars in the area, using the alias “Brian Smart” when he introduced himself to other men. Around the same time, men began disappearing and although no bodies had been found, the police suspected that a serial killer could be at work. It would be years, before it was finally discovered that Baumister was “Brian Smart” and before the police finally gained access to Baumister’s home, where the remains of eleven men were discovered.
Baumeister’s preferred method of killing was strangulation. After having lured his victims back to his home, he showed them the indoor pool and encouraged them to jump in. When in the water, he would start talking about erotic strangulation. Police suspected that Baumeister committed most, if not all, of his murders in the pool room by strangling his victims, before disposing of their bodies in the woods behind the house. Although he was married and had a family, Baumeister was able to commit the murders while his wife and children were away on summer vacation – Baumeister himself stayed behind to take care of their family business.
The bones of eleven men were found on Fox Hollow farm in 1996. However, before police could arrest Baumeister, he had already fled the country. He was found in Canada shortly after, killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In addition to the eleven found on Fox Hollow Farm, it is also suspected that Baumeister could have been the “I-70 Killer”, who murdered nine other victims (also gay men) and left their bodies on the interstate highway between Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis.
Fox Hollow still stands as it did back in 1996. The pool where the murders most likely took place is still there, the woods behind the farm are still there – and even though it has been years, bones are still being found, which may explain why it is said to be haunted. The current owners have reported seeing a man, wearing a red T-shirt, who is walking towards the woods, even though he has no legs. They have also seen objects move my themselves, a full-body apparition, they have been touched, and EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon or ‘the voices of ghosts’) have been recorded in the house and out in the woods. In 2014, Ghost Adventures investigated the house (Season 9, episode 9) and found evidence of ghosts. Other paranormal groups have also collected evidence at the house and these videos can be found on YouTube. Most of the evidence indicates that Fox Hollow is haunted by the victims but it has also been rumored that Baumeister himself haunts the property.
No matter if you believe in ghosts or not, everyone can probably agree that Fox Hollow Farm is one of the most chilling places in America. If you are interested in learning about Baumeister then I suggest you visit: http://murderpedia.org/male.B/b/baumeister-herbert.htm.
Original photo: Cat Sanchez.