Is there such a thing as the perfect crime? The Golden State Killer got away with murder but was still caught 44 years later. But what happens when there isn’t any DNA to link the killer to the icy cold case?
This is what happened in the 26-year-old cold case of the I-70 serial killer. Many people confuse this case with the I-70 Strangler, but that guy was caught. His name was Herb Baumeister, and he targeted gay men.
This case is strange in the fact that the killer walked into a store, shot his weapon, and walked right back out, leaving behind shell casings and the body of a petite brunette. That’s all. There weren’t any sexual assaults to leave DNA. He didn’t torture his victims. He simply wanted to kill.
April 8, 1992:
A 26-yr-old brunette woman opened the Payless Shoe Source shoe store in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her name was Robin Fuldauer. Register receipts show that sometime between 1:30 pm and 2 pm, a man walked into the store and shot Robin in the back of the head with a .22. A customer walks in around 2 pm and finds the place empty and calls the police. She hadn’t noticed Robin’s body face down in the back room. Strangely only a few dollars was stolen from the cash register. Police wonder if this was a botched robbery attempt. That theory would be dropped quickly when the Phantom Assassin found his next target.
April 11, 1992:
Three days later & 700 miles east along I-70, the killer strikes again. This time there were two victims. Both women are petite with shoulder-length brown hair. They were busy closing the bridal shop and were waiting for a late customer to arrive.
Pat Majors and Patricia Smith had already shut off the lights and locked the door when a man knocked on the front glass. Patricia Smith unlocked the door with the customer’s order in hand. He had already paid, so she expected to hand it out the door. Instead, she was pushed inside and ordered to the back by the Phantom Assassin. The two women were quickly shot in the head, but before the killer could leave the customer showed up
The gunman tried to force the man into the back room, but instead, the witness entered a dialog with the killer. Somehow he was able to persuade the killer to let him go. The witness fled the scene and called the police. They arrived on site, not knowing what to expect. The two women were quickly found in the back room. One was declared dead at the scene, and the other died later in the hospital. The only clues left behind were the shell casings and the witness description. Surely that would be enough to catch the guy. Right? Wrong.
April 27, 1992:
Sixteen days later, in Terre Haute, Indiana, the killer strikes yet another petite brunette working alone in Sylvia’s Ceramics. This time the killer gets sloppy. His victim was actually a man named Michael McCowan. The store was named after his mother, Sylvia. He wore his brown hair in a long ponytail and wore earrings. Perhaps the deranged psychopath thought Michael was a female in his haste to appease his inner demons. Who knows? Whatever the case, it was clear that a petite brunette wasn’t safe working alone in a storefront building along I-70.
May 3, 1992:
One week later, the killer would find his next target. This time it was Nancy Kitzmiller. She was working in a western wear store in St. Charles, Missouri.
May 7, 1992:
Four days later, the killer shoots Sarah Blessing in Raytown, Missouri. This time there were two witnesses. The suspect walked down the sidewalk looking in the windows and caught the gaze of a young man in an electronics store. The witness noticed the man was wearing a large, heavy coat and thought it was odd in the warm weather. A few moments later, the witness heard a loud pop next door. When he peered out the door, he saw the stranger calmly walking down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. The man ran next door to find Sarah had been shot. She died on the scene.
A grocery store employee was out gathering shopping carts from the parking lot and noticed the suspect climbing the slight embankment towards I-70. Both witnesses gave the same descriptions that the police had heard before. He was a white man in his late 20’s – mid 30’s. He was small around 5’9” – 5’10” with sandy blondish hair. Some recall his hair having a dull red tint.
Suddenly the killings seemed to stop leaving the investigators wondering what happened. Maybe the killer had been arrested on an unrelated charge. Police poured over all the surrounding area’s arrest records. One by one, they were all ruled out, and the case was faltering on the brink of becoming a cold case.
September 25, 1993:
Sixteen months after Sarah Blessing’s murder, a killer surfaces in Texas off I-35. His MO is eerily similar to the I-70 killer, and investigators wonder if they could be the work of one man. Mary Glasscock, another petite brunette, was murdered by a single gunshot to the back of the head with a .22. She had been working alone at the Emporium Antiques store in Fort Worth, Texas.
November 1, 1993:
Amy Vess was working alone in a dancewear shop when the killer shot her, stole some cash from the register, and left behind a shell casing from a .22.
January 15, 1994:
Vicki Webb was shot by an unknown killer while she worked alone in a Houston gift shop. A spinal abnormality caused the bullet to ricochet off the vertebrae and lodge in her head. The bullet paralyzed her but didn’t kill her. At that moment, she made a decision that would save her life. She chose to play dead. Webb could hear him rummaging through the cash register, and then he returned to her. He rolled her over and looked at her for a moment. Then he pressed the barrel to her forehead and pulled the trigger. The gun misfired. Almost as an afterthought, he pulled her pants down to her ankles and walked out of the store. Was he not buying her act? Was he planning to assault her sexually and was scared off by something? In later interviews, Webb said she really didn’t think he was aroused by pulling off her pants. It was almost as a last-minute idea. Maybe he was trying to throw off the cops, or maybe his MO was changing. Was he becoming a sexual predator?
Vicki Webb lived, and after many surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy, she was able to walk again. She lived in fear that he would return to finish the job, and for decades, she kept her face out of the newspapers. It wasn’t until an episode of Dark Minds that she allowed an interview. She claims she wants to see her attacker in court to show him that she won. I hope she gets the chance.
Some investigators have a hard time linking the I-70 slayings and the I-35 killings. Here are the facts as I have uncovered them. I believe they are the same man, but I will let you decide.
– All the hits were within easy access to a major interstate highway providing an easy escape
– All the targets were working alone in a small storefront type store
– All the victims were shot execution-style in the back of the head
– No torture
– No sexual assault
– No major reconnaissance beforehand
Weapon: Here is where some investigators question the connection.
– The I-70 killer used a different .22 than the I-35 killer used
During the 16-month hiatus, there was a big media blitz. My theory is that he saw something on the news that scared him. So he changed weapons and location.
Below is a wanted poster to show the killer’s gun. If you have any information on this case, please contact the St. Charles P.D. 1-800-800-3510 or contact your local police department.
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