Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Herb Baumeister

The Dark Side

"Youre not free until youve been made captive by supreme belief."

Marianne Moore

Realizing that he had uncovered a much larger case than that of a missing person, Vandagriff notified the Indianapolis Police Department. While the police had earlier sent Tony and his incredulous story packing, Virgil took Tony Harris and his information to the one person in the department whom he believed would see the value in the tale. She was the no-nonsense detective Mary Wilson who, Vandagriff knew, was already working on a number of other missing persons cases. He found in her a ready ear.

Mary Wilson, dark-haired, pretty and in her mid-forties, had steadfastly worked her way up through the ranks of the Indianapolis Police Department, from "beat cop" to detective. She had served in the sex crimes division, where she quickly learned the pathology of sexual criminals and the abberations connected with their acts. By the time she transferred to Missing Persons, she realized that people arent always as they seem on the surface.

"Mary liked almost everything about missing persons cases," says authors Fannie Weinstein and Melinda Wilson in Where the Bodies Are Buried. "The sense of closure that came with finding people. Talking to family members and friends. Retracing someones steps. Following every lead to its logical end, like unraveling all the threads in a piece of cloth. It was the purest kind of police work there was, as far as she was concerned."

In fact, she had been the principal investigator in the Jeff Jones disappearance, the case that Vandagriff had read about in the Indiana Word and whose details matched so closely with those of the missing persons reports for Roger Goodlet and Alan Broussard. Mary, as it turned out, was investigating disappearances of other Indianapolis men, too. Those of 20-year-old Richard Hamilton, 21-year-old Johnny Bayer, 28-year-old Allan Livingstone, and others dating back to the early 90s. All homosexuals.

Mary recognized Tony Harris as perhaps the long-lost "connection" that might help tie these many disappearances into one nutshell. He had actually survived a night with the possible killer and was willing to talk about his experience, in all its sordid and mind-bending details. Repeating his story to Mary, he then accompanied her on the prowl through the northern suburbs to find the scene of his "nightmare". Pulling into one gateway after another, none of the private manors struck a familiar chord. And in the meantime, Mary designated plainclothesmen to field the gay bars in town the 501 Club, the Varsity and Our Place where they talked to the bar owners and their frequenters for information that might identify the elusive kidnapper and throttler.

"Get me this guys license plate number," she told Tony, "and well take it from there." Quote Fannie Weinstein and Melinda Wilson, "(Mary) wasnt sure Tony could come up with the number. But he and his friends had a better shot at it than she did. They were in the bars, and there was the chance that Brian might show up again there."

Tony still continued to drop in at Vandagriffs office to speak randomly to Connie Pierce, with whom he felt a bond. Open-minded and sympathetic, Connie also matched her boss perception of crime fighting in that all pursuits are fair game. While Vandagriff utilized all the high-technology components of law enforcement, Connie knew that he wasnt beyond using such means as hypnosis, for instance, to help solve some 300 crimes.

It was Connies idea to call a friend of hers, a psychic named Wanda, who lived in Ohio. She related the facts derived from the tape recordings that Vandagriff had made of Tonys interviews in hopes that Wanda might shed some light on the whereabouts of the house with the mannequins. While she couldnt pinpoint a location, Wandas words made Connie shudder:

"I see a man tied to a bed, handcuffed, spread-eagled. I see pictures being taken while he is being strangled. The tongue is swollen, quite long coming out of his mouth. And the eyes oh! Thats a hell house! Tell Tony never to go there again!"

Impressed with the womans dramatic warning, Vandagriff continued to check on the houses identity through more routine means.

"My clients had paid me what they could afford to investigate the disappearances of their sons, and even though the Indianapolis police had taken up the case I felt like I just couldnt drop it in their laps and walk away," he explains. "The money I was paid had long been used up on equipment and man-salary, but that didnt matter; when I feel Im onto something...well, thats my nature. Hey, I knew we were talking murder here," he deliberates, "the existence of a what I smelled as a serial killer."

He dispatched one of his investigators, Bill Hilzley, who had been a state trooper for many years and knew the highways and byways of the Indianapolis area, to search the country suburbs. His quest brought him to a property sign at the end of a long driveway in Westfield marked, "Fox Hollow Farms." He was aware of Tony Harris statement about seeing a sign outside Brians house that read "Farms" something, and thought he would investigate.

The estate Hilzley came upon greatly resembled Tonys description, large, run down and morbid. Nobody seemed to be home, so he parked his Isuzu and peered through several windows hoping to catch sight of an indoor pool or to smell the sharp odor of chlorine. Knowing that he was stretching the legalities of his job, he didnt tarry, but felt sure that this might be the place that Tony had visited. It belonged, he found out, to a family named Baumeister. Vandagriff ordered aerial shots made of the property. When he showed the photos to Tony, however, the latter digested them a moment before replying, "No, I dont think so...the driveway is too short from what I remember it to be."

 

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