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Larry EYLER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Highway Murderer"
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 19 - 23
Date of murders: 1982 - 1984
Date of arrest: August 21, 1984
Date of birth: December 21, 1952
Victims profile: Gay men
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Indiana/Illinois, USA
Status: Sentenced to death October 3, 1986. Died of AIDS in prison on March, 6, 1994
 
 

 
 

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Larry Eyler

A native of Crawfordsville, Indiana, born December 21, 1952, Eyler was the youngest of four children born to parents who divorced while he was young. Dropping out of high school in his senior year, he worked odd jobs for a couple of years before earning his GED. Sporadic enrollment in college between 1974 and '78 left Eyler without a degree, and he finally pulled up stakes, making the move to Chicago.

Unknown to friends and relatives, Larry Eyler was a young man at war within himself, struggling to cope with homosexual tendencies which simultaneously fascinated and repelled him. Like John Gacy and a host of others, he would learn to take his sex where he could find it, forcefully, and then eliminate the evidence his abiding shame of.

On March 22, 1982, Jay Reynolds was found, stabbed to death on the outskirts of Lexington, Kentucky. Nine months later, on October 3, 14-year-old Delvoyd Baker was strangled, his body dumped on the roadside north of Indianapolis. Steven Crockett, 19, was the victim on October 23, stabbed 32 times with four wounds in the head, discarded outside Lowell, Indiana. The killer moved into Illinois on November 6, leaving Robert Foley in a field northwest of Joliet. 

Police were slow to see the pattern forming, unaware that they had already spoken with one survivor. Drugged and beaten near Lowell, Indiana, on November 4, 21-year-old Craig Townsend had escaped from the hospital before detectives completed their investigation of the unprovoked assault.

The transient slayer celebrated Christmas 1982 by dumping 25-year-old John Johnson's body in a field outside Belshaw, Indiana. Three days later, it was a double-header, with 21-year-old John Roach discovered near Belleville, and the trussed-up body of Steven Agan, a Terre Haute native, discarded north of Newport, Indiana.

The grim toll continued to rise through the spring of 1983, with most of the action shifting to Illinois. By July 2, the body-count stood at twelve, with the latter victims mutilated after death, a few disemboweled. Ralph Calise made unlucky thirteen on August 31, dumped in a field near Lake Forest, Illinois. He had been dead less than twelve hours when he was discovered, bound with clothesline and surgical tape, stabbed 17 times, his pants pulled down around his ankles.

On September 30, 1983, an Indiana highway patrolman spotted a pickup truck parked along Interstate 65, with two men moving toward a nearby stand of trees. One appeared to be bound, and the officer went to investigate, identifying Larry Eyler as the owner of the truck. His young companion accused Eyler of making homosexual propositions, then asking permission to tie him up. A search of the pickup revealed surgical tape, nylon clothesline, and a hunting knife stained with human blood. Forensics experts noted that the blood type matched Ralph Calise's, while tire tracks and imprints of Eyler's boots made a fair match with tracks from the field where Calise was discovered.

While the investigation continued, with Eyler still at liberty, the murders likewise kept pace. On October 4, 1983, 14-year-old Derrick Hansen was found dismembered, near Kenosha, Wisconsin. Eleven days later, a young "John Doe" was discovered near Rensselaer, Indiana. October 18 yielded four bodies in Newton County, dumped together at an abandoned farm; one victim had been decapitated, and all had their pants pulled down, indicating sexual motives in the slayings. Another "John Doe" was recovered on December 5, near Effingham, Illinois, and the body-count jumped again, two days later, when Richard Wayne and an unidentified male were found dead near Indianapolis.

By this time, police had focused their full attention on Larry Eyler. Craig Townsend had been traced to Chicago, after fleeing the Indiana hospital, and he grudgingly identified photographs of Eyler. Another survivor chimed in with similar testimony, but investigators wanted their man for homicide, and the circumstantial case was still incomplete. 

Facing constant surveillance in Chicago, Eyler filed a civil suit against the Lake County sheriff's office, accusing officers of mounting a "psychological warfare" campaign to unhinge his mind. His claim for half a million dollars was denied, and as he left the courtroom, Eyler was arrested for the Ralph Calise murder, held in lieu of $1 million bond. Police were jubilant until a pretrial hearing, on February 5, 1984, led to exclusion of all the evidence recovered from Eyler's truck. Released on bail, the killer went about his business while investigators scrambled to salvage their failing case. 

On May 7, 1984, 22-year-old David Block was found murdered near Zion, Illinois, his wounds conforming to the pattern of his predecessors. Police got a break three months later, on August 21, when a janitor's skittish dog led his master to examine Eyler's garbage, in Chicago. Police were swiftly summoned to claim the remains of Danny Bridges, 15, a homosexual hustler whose dismembered body had been neatly bagged for disposal.

Eyler's arrogance had finally undone him. Experts noted that the Bridges mutilations were a carbon copy of the Derrick Hansen case, outside Kenosha, in October 1983. Convicted of the Bridges slaying on July 9, 1986, Eyler was sentenced to die. By that time, Mother Nature had already passed heown death sentence on Eyler: he was infected with AIDS.

On november 1990, bargaining to save himself from execution, Eyler agreed to help Indiana authorities olve a number of his crimes if they would intervene to get him off death row. He confessed to the Agan torture-slaying and surprised investigators by naming an alleged accomplice, 53 years old Robert David Little, chairman of the Departament of Library Science at Indiana State University, in Terre Hte. According to Eyler, Little snapped photos and masturbated while Larry disemboweled the victim.

Based on his confession, Eyler received a 60-year prison sentence, and Little was arrested on murder charges. That case went to trial at Terre Haute, and in the absence of physical evidence to support Eyler's statement, Little was acquitted of all charges on April 17, 1991. Back in Illinois, Eyler offered to clear 20 murders in exchange for commutation of his sentence to life imprisonment, but state authorities refused.

He die of AIDS on March, 6, 1994, after confessing 21 murders to his attorney (including four committed with an accomplice who remains at large).

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Larry Eyler

In 1978 Eyler was arrested for stabbing a young male. He had put the kid in handcuffs first. But the kid fled from the hospital so Eyler was released.

Known victims -

March 22, 1982 - Jay Reynolds. Stabbed to death outside Lexington Kentucky.

October 3, 1992 - Delvoyd Baker, 14, found strangled and dumped in Indianapolis.

October 23, 1992 - Steven Crockett, 19, stabbed 32 times (4 in the head), dumped outside Lowell, Indiana.

November 6, 1982 - Robert Foley, dumped outside Joliet.

December 25, 1982 - John Johnson, 25, left in a field outside Belshaw, Indiana.

December 28, 1982 - A double header, John Roach, 21, outside Belleville and Steven Agan, found still tied up, in Newport, Indiana.

5 more wound up dead in the next few months.

August 31, 1983 - No.13 goes down. Ralph Calise was dead less than 12 hours when discovered in a field outside Lake Forest, Illinios. He had been stabbed 17 times and his pants were down around his ankles.

On September 30 - Eyler detained on traffic violation. His boot prints and tyre tracks matched those found near Calise body. BUT police had no firm evidence so Eyler remained free.

October 4, 1983 - Derrick Hansen, 14, found sexually abused and dismembered in Kenosha, Washington.

October 15, 1983 - 'John Doe' discovered near Rensselear, Indiana.

October 18, 1983 - 4 bodies found in Newton County, dumped together. All had their pants pulled down. One was decapitated.

December 5, 1983 - 'John Doe' found near Effington, Illinois.

December 7, 1983 - Richard Wayne and another 'John Doe' found dead near Indianapolis.

By now the police had loads of circumstantial evidence on Eyler. they had connected him to 18 murders.

The police found an Eyler survivor, Craig Townsend, who identified Eyler though a photo line-up.

By now the police were following Eyler everywhere so he took a lawsuit out against them, trying to get himself $500,000. This attempt failed and he was arrested for the murder of Ralph Calise.

Eyler beat the Calise charge. The Judge threw it out because the police obtained evidence illegally.

February 1, 1984 - Eyler was released on bond awaiting further trials.

August 21, 1984 - Cops called to dumpster that Eyler had just been seen dumping 8 trash bags into. When open the police found that the bags contained most of Danny Bridges, 15.

Eyler went down this time.

October, 1986 - Eyler sentenced to Die by lethal injection.

In 1990 Eyler made the news again when he offered information on 20 more murders if his sentence was commuted to life. The state refused and he is still awaiting death

A Very Funny Bit of Information.

Larry Eyler lived with his lover (male) and his lovers wife and three kids.


Larry Eyler

One of the many serial killers who struggled with the fact that he was homosexual, Larry Eyler was the youngest of four children brought up in Indiana, often beaten by step-fathers and sent to live by his mother with a bunch of other families.

Eyler, a house painter and liquor store clerk, stalked the streets of midwestern cities and towns of Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Wisconsin, even though he wasn't a "transient" by any stretch.

He had three areas where he worked and played, as well as killed. He could be found in Greencastle, Indiana, where he worked in a liquor store, a friend's place in Terre Haute, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois, where he shared his space with not only his lover, but the lover's wife and kids.

Living this way gave him a wide area to find victims to fullfill his violent sexual needs. And when he would be satiated, he would take out his anti-gay sentiments on his victim, usually ending up with the victim dead of stab wounds while bound.

In March of 1982 it all began, with Jay Reynolds found stabbed to death outside Lexington Kentucky.

In October of the same year, police found the body of 14 year old Delvoyd Baker outside Indianapolis. Two weeks later, another body, that of 19 year old Steven Crockett was found, stabbed 22 times, in Lowell, Indiana.

Police didn't make any connection yet, when in November, they found the body of Robert Foley in a field outside Joliet, Ill.

Now they were seeing a pattern of assaults on young men, with stabbing and strangulation present in every case.

On Christmas of 1982, Eyler murdered 25 year old John Johnson outside Belshaw, Indiana. Incredibly, three days later he killed two more, 21 year old John Roach in Belleville, and 20 year old Steven Agan in Newport Indiana.

Eyler was now on cruise control. He settled into the fact that he could now have his homosexual flings, and seemingly "cover-up" his disguist by eliminating his lovers and dumping them off the highways around the midwest.

1983 was no different, as he began killing around Illinois. In July of 1983, Eyler was now responsible for 12 murders, and he was now increasingly mutilating his victims after death. The sex and murder was no longer enough.

On August 31st, Robert Calise was murdered near Lake Forest, Ill. He was bound with clothesline and tape, and stabbed 17 times.

A month later, a police officer in Indiana spotted a pick-up truck off the side of Interstate 65, with two men nearby walking towards a group of trees. It appeared that one of the men was tied up. When the officer approached them, the bound young man told him that Eyler made homosexual propositions, including asking permission to tie him up.

When the officer searched the truck, he found surgical tape, clothesline, and a hunting knife stained with blood.

Eyler was immediately taken in, where forensic experts matched the blood on the knife with that of Calise. Experts were also able to match tire tracks left at the Calise sight with that of Eyler's truck.

You would think that this was enough to put Eyler behind bars, but authorities let him go, while they continued their investigation.

And on October 4th, 1983, 14 year old Derrick Hansen was found dismembered near Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Almost two weeks later, a "John Doe" was found near Effingham, Ill., with yet two other victims, this time Richard Wayne, and an unidentified male, found dead outside Indianapolis.

By this time, Eyler was under intense constant surveillance, albeit not a very good job of it to say the least.

Eyler went as far as filing a civil suit with authorities for what he claimed was harrassment against the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

What he got was arrested for the Calise murder, seemingly putting an end to a serial killers reign on the Interstates of Mid-America.

However, once again, officials blew it, as on Feb. 5th, 1984, at a pretrial hearing, it was determined that all evidence recovered from Eyler's truck was not allowed into court.

Eyler was free once again. And embarrassed law officials rushed to regain control of the case that was in the palm of their hands just a few days before.

On May 7th, 1984, 22 year old David Block was found murdered near Zion, Ill. The M.O. was the same as the other slaying attributed to Eyler.

Then Eyler did something that even the local authorities could not botch.

In August, the janitor where Eyler lived was led to garbage bags neatly placed on the sidewalk for removal by his excited dog.

When the janitor opened them, he found the dismembered remains of a local 15 year old hustler named Danny Bridges.

Finally, Eyler slipped enough for the authorities to lock him up for good. Convicted of the Bridges murder, Eyler was sentenced to die in July of 1986.


Larry Eyler, the Highway Murderer

By Michael Newton


Road Kills

By any standard, the Highway Murders case was an investigators nightmare. A brutal killer roamed at will across the American Midwest, targeting male prostitutes and hitchhikers, hacking them to death and discarding their mutilated bodies in rural locales, sometimes buried in clusters with weird ritual trappings. At least ten victims were killed before members of various law enforcement agencies realized their separate cases involved a single predator. Even then, years of suspicion and police harassment in the gay community prevented witnesses and traumatized survivors of the crime spree from communicating with authorities.

The Highway Murders spanned four states and 14 counties, from southeastern Wisconsin to north-central Kentucky. At its worst, the case highlighted breakdowns in communication at the city, county, state and federal levels, while the slayer--or slayers--was free to hunt from Chicagos mean streets and the gay bars of Indianapolis to small farming communities. Even after a task force was formed and a prime suspect was identified, the murders continued--13 more, in fact, to haunt police as they pursued their man.

Knowing a killer and confining him are sometimes very different things, as illustrated in this case by careless, bungled searches and interrogations, leading to judicial suppression of critical evidence, freeing the murderer to kill again. Even surveillance failed, as rivalry between police departments and inept communication left the slayer free to travel widely, often unobserved. For a time, it seemed as if the stalker was unstoppable--until his own clumsy arrogance landed him back in court and ultimately sent him to death row.

But even then, the Highway Murders case had more surprises left in store. The slayer caged was thought to work with an accomplice--a respected academic from a leading Indiana university--and he agreed to testify against the man he claimed was both the mastermind and gloating witness to his vicious crimes. That trial and its surprise result added another twist to one of Americas most convoluted serial murder cases and left the conclusion in doubt--perhaps forever.


Pattern Crimes

Nineteen-year-old Steven Crockett was the first known victim of the Highway Killer, stabbed to death and discarded in a cornfield outside Kankakee, Illinois, 40 miles south of Chicago and fifteen miles east of the Indiana state line. Discovery of his mutilated corpse on October 23, 1982 raised no alarms outside the immediate area of Kankakee County.

Number two, although unrecognized as such for nearly seven months, was 25-year-old John R. Johnson. He vanished from Chicagos grubby Uptown district, a neighborhood of rootless drifters and transplanted Appalachian hillbillies, one week to the day after Steve Crocketts body was found. Missing for two months, he was found near Lowell, Indiana--some 35 miles northeast of where Crockett was found--on Christmas Day.

Police in Illinois and Indiana had no reason to suspect the two crimes were related, and since the FBIs National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime would not begin computerizing records of unsolved murders until June 1984, there was no handy method to check on similar crimes in different states. The Highway Killer was a busy predator, however, and he would soon provide authorities with evidence of his existence.

Sadly, they chose to ignore it.

Two more mutilated bodies were found by Indiana police on December 28, 1982. The days first victim, 23-year-old Steven Agan, had left his mothers home in Terre Haute to catch a movie with the boys and never returned. Found in a wooded area near Newport, in Vermillion County, Agan had been slashed across the throat and stabbed repeatedly about the abdomen, leaving him disemboweled. Relatives called to identify the body insisted that the white tube socks found on his feet in death were not a part of Agans wardrobe.

Victim number two for December 28 was John Roach, a 21-year-old Indianapolis resident, stabbed to death in a maniacal frenzy before his body was dumped along Interstate Highway 70 in Putnam County, thirty-odd miles southwest of his home. Again, the connection in two separate cases--drawn from separate jurisdictions, forty miles apart and separated from each other by Parke County--might have been missed, except for a quirk of fate.

Since neither Vermillion nor Putnam Counties had their own forensic pathologists, both victims were sent to Bloomington Hospital, for examination by Dr. John Pless. The crimes, while not identical, were similar enough that Dr. Pless was moved to suspect a serial killer at large. Before days end, Pless reported his suspicions to the Indiana State Police--who in turn dismissed him as an alarmist.

The killers next victim may have been 22-year-old David Block, a recent Yale graduate who vanished on December 30, 1982, while visiting his parents in Chicagos affluent Highland Park suburb. Blocks new Volkswagen was recovered from the Tri-State Tollway near Deerfield, north of Chicago, and while he remained missing, authorities noted that Deerfield lies in Lake County, Illinois--sixty miles north of Lake County, Indiana and the scene of John Johnsons death. By the time Blocks skeletal remains were found near Zionsville, Illinois on May 7, 1984, advanced decomposition and exposure to the elements ruled out definitive pronouncement on the cause of death.

Members of the Chicago and Indianapolis gay communities already recognized what police were loath to admit: that a serial killer of gays was at large and trolling for victims across the Midwest. The crimes revived ugly memories of John Wayne Gacy--then on death row at Menard, Illinois--but Gacy had concealed his victims, while the Highway Killer seemed to flaunt his crimes. By January 1983, a gay newspaper in Indianapolis had established a hot line for tips on the case and profiled the killer as a self-loathing homosexual who killed his one-night partners to refute unwelcome desires. Local police, for their part, still refused to link the crimes and had no luck prospecting for leads in the citys gay bars, where their appearance was regarded as a threat and violation.

The next verified Highway victim was 27-year-old Edgar Underkofler, found stabbed to death outside Danville, Illinois on March 4, 1983. As in Steven Agans case, the killer had removed Underkoflers shoes and stockings, replacing them with white tube socks the victim never owned.

Jay Reynolds was the sixth to die, the 26-year-old proprietor of an ice cream shop in Lexington, Kentucky. Reynolds left home to close his business on the night of March 21 and never returned. His mutilated corpse was found the next day, discarded along U.S. Highway 25 in rural Fayette County, south of town.

Aprils first victim--and number seven on the Highway Killers confirmed hit parade--was 28-year-old Gustavo Herrera, found by construction workers in Lake County, Illinois, near the Wisconsin border. A resident of Chicagos Uptown district, Herrera was a father of two, but he also frequented local gay bars. Aside from multiple stab wounds, his killer had cut off Herreras right hand and removed it from the scene where he was found on April 8, 1983.

Another victim surfaced in Lake County one week later, on April 15. The youngest killed to date, he was 16-year-old Ervin Gibson, found outside Lake Forest. Gibsons body had been crudely camouflaged with leaves, and he was found stretched out beside the lifeless body of a dog. Detectives noted that both victims had been dumped near exit ramps for Interstate Highway 94.

The slayers first black victim, 18-year-old Jimmy T. Roberts, was found in Cook County, Illinois, near the Indiana border, on May 9, 1983. A Chicago native, Roberts had been stabbed more than thirty times, after which the killer pulled his pants down and rolled his body into a creek. The water had removed any signs of sexual assault, but a sadistic motive was clear, as in the eight previous crimes.

The case changed forever when another victim was discovered on May 9, 1983. Discovered in a field beside Indiana State Road 39, in Henderson County, 21-year-old Daniel McNeive was a sometime street hustler from Indianapolis. He had been stabbed 27 times, one of the abdominal gashes leaving his entrails exposed. Because Henderson County had no forensic pathologist, the corpse was sent to Bloomington Hospital--and Dr. John Pless once again saw marks of a familiar hand at work. Disturbed, Pless reached out for the state police a second time.

This time, they listened to him and believed.


The Suspect

Six days after McNeives corpse was discovered--on May 15, 1983--members of several Indiana law enforcement agencies gathered to discuss the Highway Murders. Meeting in Indianapolis, they organized a task force, formally christened the Central Indiana Multi-Agency Investigative Team. Lieutenant Jerry Campbell, from the Indianapolis Police Department, was assigned to lead the team, assisted by Sergeant Frank Love from the state police.

A month later, on June 14, fifty officers from eight jurisdictions gathered to review a score of unsolved murders, all involving young men or teenage boys who were stabbed or strangled to death, their bodies dumped along highways throughout the state.

By the time of that second meeting, the task force already had a prime suspect on tap. June 6 brought a phone call from Indianapolis, naming 31-year-old Larry Eyler as the Highway Killer. The caller had no direct evidence of murder, but alluded to an incident from August 1978, when Eyler had attacked hitchhiker Mark Henry at Terre Haute.

Eyler had given Henry a ride on August 3, then drew a butcher knife when Henry rejected his sexual overtures, swerving onto a dark side street where he forced Henry into the bed of his pickup truck, stripped and handcuffed his victim, then bound Henrys ankles and began stroking his body with the knife. Terrified, Henry broke free and hobbled from the truck, Eyler pursuing him and stabbing Henry once, with force enough to puncture a lung. Henry played dead, whereupon Eyler sped from the scene. Left alone, Henry had staggered to a nearby trailer court and roused a tenant there who drove him to the hospital.

Eyler, meanwhile, had also stopped nearby, choosing a house at random to confess his crime and surrender a handcuff key. Police found him waiting in his pickup and arrested him, confiscating a sword, three knives, a whip, and a canister of tear gas. Bond was initially set at $50,000, reduced to $10,000 on August 4 by a sympathetic judge, whereupon one of Eylers friends posted $1,000 as surety for his release.

Charged with attempted murder, Eyler beat the rap on August 23, after his lawyer gave Henry a check for $2,500 and Henry declined to press charges. Judge Harold Bitzegaio had dismissed the case on November 13, 1978, after charging Eyler another $43 in court costs.

The Henry stabbing was not Eylers only contact with police. Three years after that incident, in 1981, he was arrested for drugging a 14-year-old boy and dumping him unconscious in the woods near Greencastle, Indiana. That victim had also survived, his parents dropping charges when he left the hospital with no lasting damage.

Larry Eyler seemed to lead a charmed life, but he came from humble beginnings. The youngest of four children, born at Crawfordsville, Indiana in December 1952, he saw his parents divorce when he was still a toddler. Dropping out of high school in his senior year, Eyler later earned his GED and dabbled at college, attending sporadically from 1974 through 1978, finally quitting without a degree. He favored military T-shirts and fatigues, but never served in uniform. Of late, he lived in Terre Haute with Robert David Little, a professor of library science at Indiana State University. Eyler worked part-time at a Greencastle liquor store and frequently drove to Chicago on business unknown.

By July 1983, task force members were focused on Eyler as their only suspect in the Highway Murders case. FBI profilers were less certain, noting evidence of separate killers in at least two of the homicides. Indiana officers concentrated on Eyler, since they had no other prospects. He was shadowed daily, photographed as he traveled to and from work, followed to various bars after dark. No murders were committed while Eyler remained under surveillance, but skeletal remains of an eleventh victim--this one unidentified--were found in Ford County, Illinois on July 2, 1983. Investigators dutifully added the corpse to their list.

On August 27 police trailed Eyler to an Indianapolis gay bar, watching as he left a short time late, with another man. Eyler drove his one-night stand to a Greencastle motel, where they rented a room. The move broke Eylers pattern, which favored open-air sex in the bed of his pickup--complete with a plastic-wrapped mattress--and officers feared they might miss a homicide in progress while they idled outside the motel. Finally, one of them crept up to the room and peered through the window, jogging back to report no evidence of any violent crime.

Manhunters didnt know it yet, but they had mounted their last stakeout on the man whom they believed to be the Highway Killer.


The Break

Near midnight on August 30, 1983, 28-year-old Ralph Calise left the apartment he shared with a girlfriend in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, near Uptown. Calise liked to party and often disappeared overnight, but he never returned from this excursion. A tree-trimming crew found his mutilated corpse on August 31, in Lake Forest, near the sites were Gustavo Herrera and Ervin Gibson were murdered in April 1983.

Calises slaying seemed to fit the Highway Killers pattern. Found naked to the waist, his pants pulled down, the victim had been stabbed seventeen times with a long-bladed knife, virtually disemboweled. Marks on his wrists suggested he was handcuffed prior to death. Tire tracks and footprints at the scene offered police their first real traces of the killer who had claimed at least a dozen lives.

Background investigation on Calise revealed a troubled life. He had dropped out of college in his first semester, compiling a record of arrests for drug possession, arson, and episodes of violence. Police recommended psychiatric treatment, but Calise had no money for counseling and a stint with the Salvation Army failed to turn his life around. Known to friends and family as a heavy drinker and drug user, Calise was living on welfare when he met his killer in August.

A review of the Illinois cases to date told police that four Highway Killer victims-- Crockett, Johnson, Herrera and Calise--had lived in or near the Uptown neighborhood before they were murdered and dumped in outlying districts. More to the point, Herrera and Calise had once lived only two doors apart, on North Kenmore Street. Around the time these revelations broke--on September 3, 1983--Illinois detectives also learned for the first time of Indianas ongoing investigation into four similar cases.

The interstate connection grew more plausible when Chicago officers heard about Craig Townsend, taken from the Uptown neighborhood on October 12, 1982, by a man who drove across the state line, drugged and beat him, then dumped him semi-conscious near Lowell, Indiana. Transported to Crown Point for treatment, Townsend fled the hospital without describing his attacker to police. He was missing in September 1983, but authorities had his mug shot on file, taken after an arrest for drug possession.

On September 8, 1983, investigators from Waukegan and Indianapolis converged on Crown Point, Indiana, for a conference on the Highway Murders. FBI agents were invited to attend the gathering, providing a psychological profile of the slayer from the bureaus Behavioral Science Unit at Quantico, Virginia. That profile described the killer as a macho man who affected military garb and patronized redneck bars in a bid to deny his own sexuality. Murder after sex was the ultimate denial, certain corpses covered with leaves or loose dirt to negate the final act.

Indiana detectives agreed that the profile seemed to fit Larry Eyler in all respects, from his Marine Corps caps and T-shirts to his drinking and high-speed night drives in his pickup. Informed of Eylers frequent visits to Chicago, Illinois police gave their Indiana counterparts photographs of tire tracks and footprints from the Calise murder scene, for future comparison against Eylers pickup and boots. They also agreed to keep watch on Eyler if he surfaced in Chicago.

Before the month was over, Indiana state police would have their chance to stop the Highway Killer--but the opportunity would find them grossly unprepared.


Caged

On September 30, 1983, Chicago police spotted Larry Eyler cruising for dates in a district favored by male prostitutes. Rolling surveillance was established, officers watching from their cars as Eyler picked up one young man, then dropped him off a few blocks later. Detectives swarmed to question him about the meeting, their witness explaining that he had rejected Eylers offer of money for sex because he simply wanted to party.

Surveillance continued as Eyler drove around Uptown, finally stopping for Arkansas transplant Darl Hayward. In the pickup, Eyler offered Hayward $100 for sex, specifying bondage as his preference. Hayward resisted briefly, then agreed. Still unaware of the detectives tailing him, Eyler lost them by driving south on Interstate 90, leaving Chicago behind and crossing into Lake County, Indiana. Despite their suspicions of a possible murder in progress, no one from the surveillance team alerted Indiana officers that Eyler was headed their way with a potential victim.

East of Lowell, Eyler parked along the highway and persuaded Hayward to remove his shirt. That done, Eyler convinced his date to leave the truck and hike across a nearby field, to have sex in an abandoned barn. They were returning to the pickup when State Trooper Kenneth Buehrle passed by, a few minutes before 7:00 A.M., and saw the truck parked illegally, two men emerging from the woods. He stopped to question them, intending--so he later said--to issue a citation for parking illegally beside an interstate highway.

All that changed in a heartbeat, when Buehrle took Eylers drivers license and radioed his dispatcher to check for outstanding warrants. Task force members working on the graveyard shift heard Eylers name on the air and rushed to the scene. They questioned both men, then handcuffed Eyler and drove him to the state police barracks at Lowell, his truck was towed along behind.

At the Lowell barracks, Hayward finally admitted that Eyler had offered him money for sex. No cash had changed hands by the time Trooper Buehrle arrived, though, and Eyler still had the C-note in his pocket. It was 1:30 P.M. before detectives questioned Eyler, considering a new charge of soliciting prostitution. Examination of his boots revealed nicks on the soles that resembled plaster casts from the Calise crime scene, and Eyler surrendered the boots without protest. He also consented to a search of his truck, believing that police would do it anyway, whether he agreed or not. A bloodstained knife was removed from the pickup and Illinois detectives were summoned to Lowell, but they had not arrived when Eyler was released--without his boots, a phone call, or advisement of his legal rights--at 7:00 P.M.

Next morning, shortly after 4:00 A.M., Lt. Jerry Campbell led a squad of officers to Robert Littles home in Terre Haute. This time they had a search warrant. Among the items seized were handcuffs and credit card receipts from Eylers room, plus telephone records found in the kitchen. Eyler was not arrested and his pickup was not impounded, as police withdrew to study their haul of potential evidence.

The phone records surprised them, revealing a pattern of long-distance calls to Littles home number, placed from various locations, often in the dead of night. Three calls from Illinois especially intrigued authorities. One had been made from Cook County Hospital on April 8, 1983, a few hours before Gustavo Herreras body was found. A second was traced to the home of John Dobrovolskis, on Chicagos Mid-North Side. The third call was made from a number later disconnected, leaving officers to speculate in vain on its source.

Inspired by the Dobrovolskis lead, Lake County police visited his home on October 3 and found Eyler there, his pickup parked outside. On impulse, they seized the truck and took Eyler in for questioning, assuring him that he was not under arrest and would not need a lawyer. By the time Eyler finally requested an attorney, at 4:00 A.M. on October 4, he had already confessed to having a long-term affair with John Dobrovolskis--himself a married man with children--and admitted he preferred to bind his partners prior to sex. Released at 4:40 A.M. without his truck, Eyler took the morning train back to Chicago and the Dobrovolskis home.

Shortly after his release, two mushroom hunters found a mans dismembered torso in a plastic trash bag, discarded near Highway 31 at Petrified Springs Park, in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. An autopsy revealed that the head, arms and legs had been severed with a fine-toothed saw, and that the torso had been drained of blood. Although the severed parts were never found, X-rays identified the victim as 18-year-old Eric Hansen, a street hustler from St. Francis, Wisconsin, last seen alive in Milwaukee on September 27.

And the grim discoveries continued. On October 15, a farmers plow turned up skeletal remains of a John Doe victim in Jasper County, Indiana, southwest of Rensseler. The bones were notched by knife wounds, indicating death by stabbing. Four days later, mushroom hunters stumbled on the Highway Killers private graveyard. At a long-abandoned farm outside Lake Village, Indiana, four more victims were discovered in varying states of decomposition. Three were white males, planted close together, while a black victim had been segregated from the others, on the far side of a tree. Inside a nearby barn, detectives found a pentagram and an inverted cross--considered signs of Satanism--painted on a sagging rafter. Two of the victims would remain forever nameless; the others were identified as 22-year-old Michael Bauer and 19-year-old John Bartlett.

News of the discovery brought two surviving victims forward. Ed Healy wrote police from West Virginia, recalling the night of June 1, 1980, when Larry Eyler handcuffed him for sex, then beat him for an hour and threatened him with a shotgun. Jim Griffin, from Chicago, identified Eyler as the man hed taken home for sex on November 30, 1981. At Griffins home, Eyler had turned violent, beating Griffin with his fists, threatening him with two knives and an ice pick. Police also located Craig Townsend on October 26, 1983, recording his account of an attack by Eyler twelve months earlier.

At the same time, a noose of scientific evidence was tightening around Larry Eyler. FBI lab technicians found human blood, type A-positive, on the knife removed from Eylers truck, and distinctive nicks on the soles of his boots were matched to plaster casts of footprints from the Calise murder scene. When they cut the boots open on October 26, technicians found more blood--again A-positive, Calises type--inside, soaked through the inner lining. Handcuffs seized from Robert Littles home were found consistent with the marks left on Calises wrists. The tires on Eylers truck, likewise, matched casts of tracks from the Calise crime scene.

A preliminary hearing was convened in Waukegan, before U.S. District Judge Paul Plunkett, on October 28, 1983. Various witnesses described the evidence connecting Eyler to Calises murder and he was held over for trial, jailed in lieu of $500,000 bond. Investigators from four states heaved a collective sigh of relief.

But they were premature.


Freedom

Attorney David Schippers knew a bad search when he saw one. Once a prosecutor in Chicago, he brought his knowledge of police methods with him when he entered private practice. Now, as Larry Eylers lawyer, he was instantly alert to problems with the evidence and statements gathered by investigators working on the Highway Murders case. On December 13, 1983 Schippers filed a motion to suppress all evidence collected in the case, including Eylers statements to police on September 30 and October 3-4, plus items seized in various searches of his truck and Robert Littles home, conducted on September 30, October 1, November 1 and November 22, 1983.

The suppression hearing convened in Lake County, before Judge William Block, on January 23, 1984. Testimony spanned four days, with witnesses including seven police officers, John Dobrovolskis, his wife Sally, and Larry Eyler himself. In each case, Schippers tried to show a pattern of negligent and illegal behavior by investigating officers, suggesting that the evidence they seized and statements they recorded should be inadmissible at trial.

State Trooper Kenneth Buehrle was first on the witness stand, describing his stop of Eyler and Darl Hayward on September 30. On cross-examination Buehrle admitted that Eyler had committed no offense except illegal parking on the interstate. Indiana State Police Sgt. Peter Popplewell recalled Haywards comments of September 30, then admitted leaving those statements out of his official report. Prodded by Schippers, Popplewell also granted that it was unusual for citizens to be handcuffed and jailed for twelve hours, with their vehicles impounded, for illegal parking. Sgt. John Pavlakovic noted that he ordered Eylers removal to Lowell in handcuffs, still insisting that Eyler was in custody but not under arrest.

Prosecutor Peter Trobe opened the January 24 proceedings with a tape recording of Eylers statement on September 30, 1983. Task force Sgt. Frank Love next described his interview with Eyler, admitting that the task force had no evidence to charge Eyler with a crime when he was jailed. Love also conceded that he was rather concerned by Eylers 12-hour confinement, in the absence of probable cause for arrest. Another task force member, Sam McPherson, said Eylers boots were close enough to the Calise tracks to merit investigation--but he could not explain why Eyler was released, if the boot evidence incriminated him.

Eyler took the stand on January 24, admitting that he gave consent for officers to search his pickup, claiming that he feared he would be held in jail until he acquiesced. Confused and frightened, Eyler said he had agreed to everything his captors asked for, in a bid to win release.

Detective Dan Colin was first on the stand for January 25, describing most of the Highway Killers victims as gay hustlers. Ralph Calise, he admitted, had no such record, and the murder scene betrayed no evidence of sexual assault. State police corporal David Hawkins recalled that the search warrant for Robert Littles home was lost overnight, apparently misfiled at the Vigo County courthouse. John and Sally Dobrovolskis described police barging into their home without warrants or permission on October 3. John recalled that Sgt. Roy Lamprich not only rejected Eylers plea for an attorney but ordered Dobrovolskis not to call one.

On February 2, Judge Block ruled that there had been no justification for jailing Eyler on September 30 or searching his pickup. Every act that followed was a direct consequence of the illegal arrest and detention for those investigative purposes, Block said. Facts contained in a police affidavit for the October 1 warrant on Littles home were also insufficient to support a legal search. The seizure of Eylers pickup on October 3 was tainted but permissible, since Eyler had granted permission. It was a small concession, and too little to support a case. The judges order ruled out any use in court of Eylers boots, his handcuffs, or the bloody knife. Nothing remained except the tire tracks, of a relatively common type.

Eyler was free. Fearing harassment by police in Indiana, he immediately pulled up stakes and settled in Chicago. There was nothing that police could do but watch him go.


Guilty

At 6:00 A.M. on August 21, 1984, the janitor of an apartment house on West Sherman Street, in Chicago, set out to prepare his buildings garbage dumpster for the morning pickup. He found it overflowing with gray plastic trash bags and began to remove them. In the process, one bag slipped from his grasp and fell to the pavement, disgorging a severed human leg.

Police were summoned and found that the other trash bags held dismembered remains of a young white male, his body cut into eight pieces. Witnesses recalled watching a tenant of the house next-door deposit the bags around 3:30 P.M. on August 20. One identified the man as Larry Eyler, a tenant at 1618 West Sherman. Eyler had seemed strange the day before, with a glassy look to his eyes. Asked why he was dumping trash in a neighbors bin, he replied, Im getting rid of some shit.

Police raided Eylers apartment at 7:00 A.M. and caught him in bed with John Dobrovolskis. He was jailed for questioning, while the dumpster remains were sent to the Chicago Police Departments crime lab, there identified as 16-year-old Danny Bridges. Fingerprints lifted from the trash bags matched Eylers, and he was formally charged with first-degree murder at 8:00 P.M. Evidence found in his apartment included numerous bloodstains, a box of trash bags matching those from the alley, a hacksaw, and a T-shirt owned by Danny Bridges.

Prosecutors announced their intent to seek the death penalty, states attorneys Mark Rakoczy and Rick Stock assigned to handle the case. Eylers hopes for acquittal rested with public defenders Claire Hilliard and Tom Allen. David Schippers declined to represent Eyler at trial, but agreed to serve Hilliard and Allen in an advisory capacity.

Eyler pled not guilty to the murder charge on September 13, and legal maneuvers delayed his trial for nearly two years. Finally, the proceedings opened in Cook County Criminal Court on July 1, 1986, before Judge Joseph Urso. Jurors convicted Eyler of all counts on July 9, but his fate would be decided in the trials penalty phase, beginning on September 30--three years to the day since he was stopped by Trooper Kenneth Buehrle in Lake County, Indiana.

On October 3, 1986, Judge Urso sentenced Eyler to die for killing Bridges; Eyler was also sentenced to fifteen years in prison for aggravated kidnapping and five years for attempting to conceal his victims death.

There were still appeals to be filed, but all in vain. Three years after he was condemned--on October 25, 1989--the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed Eylers conviction and capital sentence, fixing his tentative execution date for March 14, 1990.


Repentance

Appeals proceeded on Eylers behalf, with the anticipation that he could spend years--even decades--on death row. The cases first new surprise surfaced in October 1990, when Vermillion County prosecutor Larry Thomas announced that he was reopening the Agan murder case. A month later, Eyler agreed to cooperate with Thomas and named an alleged accomplice in that slaying. Eyler made his formal statement to police on December 4, 1990, including a comment that I ask God to forgive me, because I can never forgive myself.

Four days later, detectives served search warrants at the Terre Haute home of Professor Robert Little, and at Littles office on the campus of Indiana State University. The items seized included numerous videotapes and some 300 still photographs, including snapshots of Larry Eyler posed in jockey shorts and boots, holding a riding crop. Detained at City Hall, Little answered preliminary questions, then demanded an attorney when the subject matter changed to murder. His lawyer was summoned but never arrived, and Little was soon released without charges.

On December 13, Eyler was escorted to Clinton, Indiana escorted by Vermillion County Sheriff Perry Hollowell. On arrival, he pled guilty to the Agan murder and agreed to testify against Little at trial. Eylers statement to Judge Don Darnell included the claim that on August 19, 1982, [Little] asked me, did I want to play a scene--allegedly their code for a staged homosexual act, climaxed by murder. They picked up Agan together, Eyler said, and drove him to an abandoned farm building off Route 63, where he was bound, suspended from a rafter, and stabbed to death. According to Eyler, Little photographed the murder in progress and kept Agans T-shirt as a souvenir.

On December 18, Eyler returned to Clinton for a polygraph test, which he reportedly passed. Little surrendered the same day, in Terre Haute, and pled not guilty to first-degree murder. He was held without bond, suspended with pay from his university post pending disposition of the case. On December 28--eight years to the day after Steve Agans body was found--Eyler received a 60-year prison term for the crime.

Suddenly, Larry Eyler was a hot property in Indiana. Prosecutors from five more counties contacted his attorneys, offering 60-year prison terms if Eyler would confess to unsolved murders in their jurisdictions. He agreed, offering to clear twenty homicides in return for commutation of his death sentence, but Cook County prosecutors flatly rejected the deal on January 8, 1991.


Justice?

Robert David Little made an unlikely monster. At age fifty-three, a respected professional and former president of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union chapter in Terre Haute, he was regarded by colleagues as innocuous. His worst mistake, most of them said, was opening his home to Larry Eyler between 1975 and 1984--a lapse in judgment that now threatened his very life.

Jury selection for Littles trial began at Newport, Indiana, on April 9, 1991. Prosecutor Mark Greenwell was matched against defense attorneys Dennis Zahn and James Voyles. Opening statements were made on April 11, Greenwell telling jurors that Little had conceived a murder plan on the night of December 19, 1982, after watching the violent porn film {Caligula} with Eyler. A copy of the film on videotape had been seized when police searched his home in December 1990, but nothing else was found to support the murder charge. It rested entirely, as Greenwell admitted, on the testimony of convicted killer Larry Eyler. Without his statement, we dont have a case, Greenwell said.

Littles defenders countered with a claim that Eylers statements were self-serving lies. He hoped to save himself by sacrificing Little, they maintained. This is Larry Eylers story Voyles observed, what he has chosen to tell you eight years afterward. To discredit the lie, Voyles and Zahn planned to prove that Little was in Florida, visiting his parents, on the night Steven Agan was killed.

Eyler was the states first witness on April 11, repeating his tale of murder inspired and directed by Little. Eyler claimed that Little joined in stabbing Agan, then masturbated while Eyler finished the job. When he was done, Eyler said, Little had lowered his camera and complained that it went too fast. A new twist was added with Eylers claim that Little--not Eyler--had murdered Danny Bridges in Chicago.

Two more prosecution witnesses--Mark Miller and Keith Hegelmeyer--testified on April 11 that they had posed nude while Little snapped photographs, but neither recalled any violent behavior and their testimony added nothing to Littles acknowledged interest in nude photography.

Agans grisly murder was portrayed for jurors on April 12, Greenwell displaying photographs and bloody clothes before criminologist Michael Goldman described how Agans body was cut open and his intestines were hanging out in the open. Pathologist John Pless confirmed that Agans murder was the worst case Ive seen without the body having been cut into pieces. Still, nothing was produced connecting Robert Little to the crime.

The defense case was simple, branding Eyler a liar and presenting an alibi that placed Little hundreds of miles from the crime scene. His mother testified that Little never missed a Christmas visit to Tampa between 1958 and 1990, adding that he had arrived in Florida before December 19, 1982. A neighbor confirmed Littles presence in Tampa, but thought he might have arrived as late as December 22 or 23. Greenwell produced documents proving that Littles car had been repaired at a Clinton, Indiana, garage on December 21, 1982--with the bill paid in cash--but none of his witnesses from the garage could remember who brought in the car. Money had also been withdrawn from the automatic teller at Littles bank, shortly after midnight on December 22, 1982, but again there were no witnesses to the transaction.

Little declined to testify, putting his trust in the jury, and his faith was rewarded with acquittal on April 17, 1991. Mark Greenwell declared himself a little disappointed, but not surprised by the verdict, freely admitting that star witness Eyler had gross credibility problems.

The sole convicted Highway Killer ran out of time on March 6, 1994. Stricken with AIDS-related complications, Eyler died that day in the infirmary at Pontiac Correctional Center. Before his death, he confessed to twenty-one murders, vowing that he was joined in four of the crimes by an accomplice still at large. Eylers lawyer announced her intent to aid survivors of those victims in suing the alleged accomplice for wrongful death, but no such litigation has been filed to date.

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