Efforts under way to ID two unidentified victims of Eyler
The identities of two murder victims long attributed to a Putnam County-raised serial killer are still being sought by northwestern Indiana authorities.
Newton County Coroner Scott McCord has teamed with the non-profit organization Can You Identify Me, dedicated to America's unidentified, to help find names for three still-unidentified murder victims in Newton County.
Two of those were young men whose demise was linked to Larry W. Eyler, a one-time Greencastle area resident who was born in Crawfordsville and dropped out of South Putnam High School in 1970.
All of the murders attributed to Eyler, who worked as a liquor store clerk in Greencastle for several years while in the midst of his killing spree, occurred between 1982 and 1984.
Before dying of AIDS in a Pontiac, Ill., prison at age 41 in March 1994, Eyler reportedly confessed to the murders of 21 other young men across four states (Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin) in an effort to avoid the death penalty. Many of his victims were known to be gay men.
Eyler was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the 1984 murder and dismemberment of Daniel Bridges, a 15-year-old Chicago boy but died before that sentence could be carried out.
Bridges' dismembered body was discovered in a trash dumpster in the Rogers Park neighborhood on Chicago's far North Side after an alert janitor saw Eyler place trash bags in the dumpster of an apartment building where he did not reside.
In July 1986, Eyler was found guilty of the Bridges murder, the only case in which he would be convicted.
The two Newton County cases now being championed by coroner Scott McCord involve two unidentified Eyler victims:
-- "Adam Doe," who was a 15- to 20-year-old African-American. He stood 5-foot-10 to six feet tall with cropped hair and wore a belt buckle with the word "Devil" on it.
-- "Brad Doe," who was a 17- to 22-year-old white male with red hair. Standing 5-foot-5 to 5-10, Brad had a cross tattoo and a rectangular tattoo on his right forearm.
Investigators have long presumed both young men were picked up by the serial killer while they were hitchhiking. Both young men were found dead in 1983.
"Brad Doe" might have been from Illinois, although either victim could have been from anywhere in the United States, and possibly Canada.
Coroner McCord and the Can You Identify Me group are asking the public to participate in the "Spread the Word" awareness campaign by downloading flyers of Adam and Brad (along with a third unrelated victim, Charlene Doe) online at www.canyouidentifyme.blogspot.com.
"We hope people will print out the flyers and post them throughout their local areas, so that we can find the real identities of Adam, Brad and Charlene," Morris said, "so that they can be each reunited with their families and receive a dignified resting place."
Charlene was an African-American female age 25-45, who was found dead next to a man named Tony in Willow Slough State Park in August 1988. It is believed she and Tony were killed on July 4 of that year.
While they are only three out of more than 40,000 unidentified people in America, McCord has made it his mission to find names and proper burials for the three people he lovingly refers to as "my kids" in a recent statement.
"I met Rebel J. Morris, founder of Can You Identify Me, and Betsy James Cooper, the organization's director of forensic art, in 2011," McCord said, "and they immediately went to work assisting me in trying to figure out who these three victims really were."
Authorities believe the Eyler killing spree began with the March 22, 1982 death of Jay Reynolds, who was found stabbed to death on the outskirts of Lexington, Ky.
Nine months later the scene shifted to the north side of Indianapolis, where on Oct. 3, Delvoyd Baker, 14, was found strangled with his body dumped along the roadside.
Steven Crockett, 19, was a victim on Oct. 23, 1982, stabbed 32 times with four wounds in the head, discarded outside Lowell, Ind. The killings moved into Illinois with Robert Foley left in a field northwest of Joliet on Nov. 6, 1982.
On Christmas Day 1982, 25-year-old John Johnson's body was discovered in Lake County in a field outside Belshaw, Ind.
Three days later, the murder spree moved into Putnam County as the body of 21-year-old John Lee Roach was discovered in a wooded area southeast of Putnamville, near the State Road 243 exit of Interstate 70.
But that wasn't the only body found that day. Less than 50 miles northwest of where Roach was discovered with his pants pulled down around his ankles (in what would become a signature aspect of the Eyler killings), the brutally slashed body of Steven Agan, 23, Terre Haute, was found in Vermillion County.
The late Jack Hanlon, former longtime Putnamville Indiana State Police detective, described Agan's body as "field dressed" in the manner a hunter would cut up a deer that had been shot and killed.
The connection of the Roach and Agan murders, along with a May 9, 1983 discovery of the body of Daniel Scott McNeive, 21, Indianapolis, refocused the investigation on west-central Indiana. McNieve's body was found in a field along State Road 39 just off I-70 near the Hendricks-Morgan county line.
Just about a year after the Roach-Agan discoveries, authorities found two more bodies in a field along the north side of U.S. 40 (west of Belleville and east of Cox's Plant Farm) on Dec. 7, 1983. Only one of those victims has been identified, Richard Wayne, 21, Indianapolis.