The Texas I-35 Killer

There is so little out there on the I-35 victims that there isn’t much one can say about them, but paradoxically they may be able to speak much in terms of outing the I-70 Killer. And I think if the victims in Texas could speak, that’s what they’d want to say. Unfortunately, they haven’t been given much of a chance since the details are so sparse. We can only detect a general pattern.

After his May 7, 1992, attack in Raytown, Missouri, on the outskirts of Kansas City, MO, the I-70 Killer quit. He quit as suddenly as he had started. During his crime spree, a genuine spree killing lasting only a month, he hadn’t varied his MO much. He obviously wanted to kill women, and for him the most convenient places were small shops and the most convenient times were off hours.

I-70 victims

He prepared himself enough to get away with it. He had watched the shops enough from across the street or knew already that a young woman managed the store. He rubbed his .22 cartridges with jeweler’s rouge to make sure there was no problem with the automatic jamming. This is a little excessive for his MO. He just planned to shoot an unarmed woman in the back of the head. But perhaps this tells us he was ready for a shootout with the police if he should get cornered. Considering his month long spree, he seemed like a homicidal maniac on the loose, so the idea of being ready to go out in a blaze isn’t farfetched.

I think it is fair to say he wasn’t the mumbling transient, even if he might have used that image as a cover.

But he stopped, stopped cold. One month– April 8 to May 7, 1992– he burned hot, killed 6 people, and then was no more.

A year went by. Nothing. Not even in other parts of the country. Summer 1993 then passed. Then . . .

On September 25, 1993, 51-year old Mary Glassock was found dead in her small antique shop at 4708 Bryce in Fort Worth, Texas. She had been shot in the head with a .22 caliber. Naturally, it wasn’t long before a comparison was made: it wasn’t the same .22 as the I-70 Killer had used. . . but . . .

Glassock-large

A lot else fit the I-70 Killer MO. Glassock’s  antique store was a small shop and it wasn’t far from the highway. In this case, the highway was the I-30, a tributary of the main highway I-35. And I-35 was the main highway south from the St. Louis and I-70 area. It went through Wichita, Kansas, where the I-70 Killer had taken his 2nd and 3rd victim, so it was a highway that the I-70 Killer worked right away. (Then he kibitzed back and forth in between his first strike point in Indianapolis and Wichita.) Nothing indicated that there were similar murders in Oklahoma City, the only other main city on the I-35 south, suggesting the same killer was moving south and following the highway. But after Oklahoma, Fort Worth was the next major city.

Fort Worth is just west of Dallas and, of course, on the I-35.

In addition, Glassock’s shop was on a main road off the highway. Her age at 51 made her an outlier in terms of the I-70 Killer’s victim, but he had also made a mistake and shot a man with a pony tail in the back of the head. He could have made a mistake about age in Fort Worth, or age simply meant nothing to him after all. Also, who robs an antique store in an older part of town while simply driving through? Except for the age of the victim and the fact it was a different .22 caliber, the pattern was the I-70 Killer.

Yet it was one murder in a shop. Unfortunately, those happen and it doesn’t mean a serial killer is afoot. However. . .

Nearby in Arlington, Texas, it happened again. This time everything fit the I-70 MO. The location was off Highway 20, the next major cross highway along the I-35 south of Fort Worth. The killer was obviously moving along the I-35 going south. The victim  was a young brunette, Amy Vess. She was working in a dance apparel store at 4001 West Green Oaks. It’s in a shopping center near the main road from the highway. The date was November 1 (gravestone says death on November 2), 1993.

Amy Vess

The pattern wasn’t reflecting the month long spree like back in April 1992, but it seemed either the I-70 Killer had started again, without the same urgency, or another creep was hitting the Fort Worth area and basically doing the same thing, just not all in one month in fairly rapid succession.

The rest of November and December would pass without another murder. But in January 1994 it happened again, further south in Houston. This meant the creep had followed the I-35 highway to San Antonio and then went west to Houston. Texas realized they now had the “I-35 Killer.”

He made a significant mistake in Houston, and we will come to that case in our next post.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

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END of ACT ONE– The I-70 Killer

By early May, St. Charles police, Wichita police, Indianapolis and Terre Haute police– police from 3 states– knew they had a homicidal maniac going back and forth on the I-70. This creep liked to kill women, relatively young, with long brunette hair. He used a high capacity .22 caliber pistol. He rubbed the cartridges with jeweler’s rouge to make sure the bullets didn’t jam. The guy was calm and cool obviously. How did he stalk these places and remain essentially nondescript? 4f972048ccab6.image

There was one report– a store owner in Indianapolis had noted there was some homeless guy wandering around the area of the crime scene, sometimes hours before. He would be mumbling to himself, like so many of that hapless variety. However, it was hard to believe that some killer with a highly polished .22 automatic pistol and the ability to drive long distances was some druggie idly stumbling about businesses.

It was May 7, 1992. A man in his 30s, average height, average build, everything average, was mumbling to himself as he ambled about the Woodson Village shopping center in Raytown, Missouri, a small town on the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri, near the Kansas border.

Mumbling to himself, this figure peered into the window of the Video Attic– the clerk thought this was just another bum.

Next store, in the Store of Many Colors, Sarah Blessing continued her work. It was late now, close to 6:30 p.m. We don’t know the before-the-fact details much. But the clerk next door heard a “pop.” It wasn’t long until Sarah was found dead– a bullet to the back of the head. The cash was missing from the cash register. I-70 Victim-Sarah Blessing

Later, a witness reported seeing a man walking up the incline to the main road behind the complex.

Woodson Village isn’t a large shopping center. It is a bit sunken, set in the sides of sloping hillocks, over which was paved the main roads. It isn’t close to I-70 really. But the main road behind it goes there.

The murderer was the I-70 Killer, of course. He obviously had continued west from St. Charles Missouri. Was he going to hit Kansas again next?

The truth of it is, as time would prove, he wouldn’t strike again. Not along the I-70 anyway. It would be over a year before similar killings would recommence. But they would do so along the I-35, the highway that leads from Kansas (through Wichita) and down into Texas. The gun would also be a .22 caliber, but of a different model.

Raytown MO murder scene--Probable6

From the main road looking down the slope to the back of the store in Woodson Village. 

The I-70 Killer had engaged in a month long killing spree and, as time has also proved, got away clean with it. He didn’t molest, torture, even fear-torture, his victims. He just shot them in the head and took minimal cash from the register. He hit small stores at off hours. He was, really, just interested in killing the clerk; perhaps also in the thrill of the hunt before-the-fact.

Raytown MO murder scene--marked

Woodson Village is marked with the yellow star. The killer seemed to know the area. It is relatively far from all highways, though at the intersection of main roads which lead to them. This is the furthest from a highway that he struck. 

The I-70 Killer struck furthest from the highway in Raytown and Wichita. His strike points in St. Charles, Terre Haute, and Indianapolis were right off the highway or just a couple of blocks away. There were auto businesses at all locations except Raytown and St. Charles. The general pattern of his strike points induce in us the theory that he was based closer to these points, and indeed these points are closer to the I-35. From this area, a killer enlarging upon his MO could do so by heading south along the I-35.

I-35 probe The strike points of the I-35 Killer. The highway leads down from Raytown and through Wichita, through Oklahoma, and then into Texas, through the first major city of Fort Worth, where the I-35 Killer would strike first.  

Before we attempt to connect those Texas murders to these I-70 murders, it is best to consider a few clues. One is the jeweler’s rouge. This was a cool, careful man with a knowledge of guns. He didn’t want one jamming on him. Two, the mumbler. The killer did some scoping before-the-act obviously. Did he use the disguise of being some transient druggie? No one would suspect such a person as the killer. Three, after the shot in Raytown that killed Blessing, the clerk next door looked out the window and saw a man walk away. He was calm and cool. Was this the mumbler, no longer needing his disguise?

Such a cool killer as this, stalker and premeditator of murder, is smart enough to shift model of weapons if he intends to start a crime spree elsewhere.  And we must bear this in mind as we descend into Texas next on the trail of a similar killer.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Quick Exit– More Clues in Missouri– The I-70 Killer

With the pattern so far laid down, you’d think the maniac of the I-70 might be going back to the Indianapolis area; that he had simply stopped off in Terre Haute after protracted business in the west (Wichita or Kansas) and did very minimal reconnoitering and then put another notch in the handle of his highly charged .22 automatic pistol.

But he didn’t. He swung westward again, through Illinois and then not far into Missouri. He struck just outside St. Louis in the suburb of St. Charles. The crime scene was closer to the highway than he had so far struck anywhere.

The date was May 3, 1992, only 6 days after he had shot McCown in Terre Haute.

The Boot Village Shop was in the large Bogey Hills shopping plaza right off Highway I-70. It was, however, quite different than the other stores therein. It was located in the corner, by a walkway that led to the back street and a small parking and loading area behind the center. Zumbehl Rd-I-70-5I-70 Victim-Nancy Kitzmiller

Within this shop worked 24 year old Nancy Kitzmiller. It was about 2:30 p.m. when a customer wandered around looking for her. He finally found her in the back room. She had been shot in the head. The murder had not happened much earlier, of course. This was the dull time of the day. The I-70 Killer waited to strike at these times. The shell casing and the ballistics proved it was him.

Most likely he had parked behind the store and then casually walked away again and drove off.

It took a little bit of stalking to discover that a young woman worked in such a convenient location in an otherwise very inconvenient and large shopping center. But the killer certainly hadn’t strayed far from the I-70, as the photos here show. He was probably quickly back on the highway and long gone by the time the police had arrived at the crime scene.

Kitzmiller-StCharlesMO-10

From our vantage today, the location offers a contrast to the others– there is no apparent autobody or mechanics or car dealership nearby. This was apparent in the other locations. Perhaps there was an auto parts store in the large center, but that is a bit of a different retail establishment than the others.  Corundum and red rouge had been found on the shell casings before, indicating the killer may have had some connection with a facility that did, among other things, some sanding. Corundum is used in sanding and on sandpaper, and is even on emery boards for nail filing.

There was one similarity in the location with the others (aside being next to the I-70). There were condos and apartments right by the shopping center, behind the small back road that serviced the center, on Fairways Circle. The other crime locations had been right off residential areas, though not in as busy a part of town as Bogey Hills.

I70_serial_killer1

So far, The I-70 Killer had struck with the zeal of a homicidal maniac. He robbed very little from the cash register. He robbed stores operated by young women (with one exception), and he simply shot them to the head. There was no molesting.

But the strike at Bogey Hills Plaza is the outlier. Could the I-70 Killer have been based in between the points where he was hitting? This would indeed indicate Missouri. Was he familiar to some extent with the shopping center for other reasons not associated with any form of work or delivery?

Where would the homicidal thrill seeker strike next? The next location will give us another clue. It would be only 4 days later and much further to the west.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Terre Haute Clue– The I-70 Killer’s Mistake

Terre Haute, Indiana, is right off the I-70. Not only this, the I-70 Killer’s next victim’s establishment was only a few blocks north of the I-70 along the main road that cuts off from the highway.

Sylvia’s Ceramics was, as you might expect, in a lower rent part of town, close to the downtown. It was located in a small building with a couple of other businesses. It used to be a Barber’s shop, but the owner retired and his wife ran her ceramics out of his old shop. Across the street is a car dealership and mechanic’s garage/body shop. Sylvia's Ceramics7

On April 27,  1992, a man walked into Sylvia’s. It was just after 4 p.m.– not a busy time of day. Mick McCown, the owner’s son, perhaps didn’t know he had a customer. Perhaps no bell on the door. He continued to stock shelves. The man may have padded quietly about the shelves of inanimate figures and vases. It is hard to believe that McCown gave him any acknowledgement, else the I-70 Killer would have known Mick was a man. He remained crouched, stocking shelves. In this position, the narrow hips of a man are not distinguishable, and his long brunette pony tail could easily make him look like a woman. The I-70 Killer stood behind him, raised his deadly automatic .22. With one squeeze of the trigger, Mick slumped over. He had been dispatched with a single bullet to the back of the head. Sylvia's Ceramics-MikeMcCown-large

Perhaps the killer now noticed that the petite, long hair brunette with a ponytail was a man and not a woman. Maybe he laughed at the irony. In any case, the killer left the store and drove away.

What greeted Terre Haute police was the same evidence at the other two I-70 Killer crime sites– the same .22 caliber had been used. The pattern clearly now fit the I-70 as the main route the killer used. But there was one more thing here. The killer’s victims were women with long brunette hair. Mick obviously didn’t fit the MO. Therefore it is easy to deduce that the demented killer’s level of stalking before-the-fact was quite limited.

For us today, the automotive pattern is overwhelming. Payless Shoes was in a similar part of Indianapolis. The bridal shop in Wichita was in a strip mall with a mechanic’s auto body shop therein. And now here in Terre Haute the evidence was that the I-70 Killer simply scoped out his victims from watching the shop from across the street or parking lot.

But was the psychopath on business? Was it some form of body or mechanics work? Had business brought him to these locations in times past and now he was coming back to do his “thing”? Or was he busy doing business right now and simply detoured long enough to scout out parts of town near the main highway?

The location of Sylvia’s Ceramics near to I-70 and the fact the male victim from behind could have appeared as a woman (when crouched) reveal much about the killer’s MO. Add to this the forensics– red rouge on the shell casing and corundum. There was suspected to be some industrial connection– metal working . . . or? Corundum is on emery boards and sandpaper. Was this guy sanding off his fingerprints?

Despite the locations by the highway, this creep put some amount of premeditation into his crimes. But here his mistake is vital. To get into his stalking MO is to get into his mind.

One, Sylvia’s also backed residential area. There are homes behind it.  This is true of every location.  These stores were not in busy downtown areas. These were the older parts of town where the business street was the main street and the residential areas were right behind it.

Could he have been a contractor who traveled far to work on homes under refurbishment? Did he deliver something needed in home renovation?

Where did he come from? Was his first strike in Indianapolis closer to home or was it the extreme of his driving distance? Had he been in the Wichita area ever since his double murder there on April 11? Was he now driving back to Indiana or Indianapolis? Or, was he located somewhere in between and was now on the road again driving back and forth, direction either way?

Sadly, the next strike doesn’t tell us anything but that he drove back and forth. The next strike would be back west, in St. Charles, Missouri, on the outskirts of St. Louis. It looks like he was going back and forth, but there was another major MO change here.

We examine this case in our next post.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Murder in Wichita– I-70 Killer Strikes Again

As with all serial installments, the next murder sheds light on the first murder and, indeed, on them all. In far away Indianapolis, Robin Fuldauer hadn’t been killed by some perp who wanted to rob the Payless Shoe store of petty cash. The murderer was obviously on a spree.  The two dead victims before Wichita police detectives proved that now.

The date was April 11, 1992. The time: between  6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The Bride d’Elegance was in a nice strip mall on a main road between the highways that serviced Wichita. There was no expressway back then. But East Kellogg was a very wide road and main thoroughfare. E Kellogg-Wichita2

 

The bridal shop should have been closed– but we don’t need to go into the same recital here as is repeated in the articles online. Suffice to say the owner Pat Magers (32) left the door open because a groomsman needed to get his cummerbund and could only get there after closing time.  She worked on in the store with her helper Pat Smith (23). Around this time, the I-70 Killer entered the store, led them to the back room, and killed them both, execution style with a bullet to the back of the head. (Pat Smith lingered for a while, but soon died at the hospital.)

He now spent just a few minutes to rummage the bodies for personal possessions, and finding something to his fancy on one of them, he took it. He then took the petty cash from the register.

As he was leaving, the groomsman arrived. He didn’t kill him but let him live.

Well, so all said and done, this yields much. We have a sketch of the suspect. Also, we know the I-70 Killer didn’t kill to maintain his anonymity. He killed the women, well, because he wanted to. It was the same MO as in faraway Indianapolis. Only here he took some personal property from one of the victims. Moreover, he was driving the I-70. He didn’t molest his victims. He killed women in vulnerable situations. Since East Kellogg was like Pendleton Pike (in Indianapolis) he struck on main roads that led straight o the interstates. He used the same automatic .22 caliber.

4f972048ccab6.image . . .A serial killer.  The MO wasn’t elaborate. It was a hands-off MO. In essence, there were ballistics and that he drove the I-70. He liked to kill brunette women with long hair in convenient store locations. He robbed very little.

But there is actually a little more . . . He was picking shops that backed to residential areas and had auto body and mechanic shops across or nearby. Indeed, the strip mall had a large such business in it.

E Kellogg-Wichita8-clue

There was no real convenient place to watch the bridal shop from across the street at that time, though it was possible. He could not have known the store would remain open after hours. Yet he had to know there was at least one woman working there who matched his MO.

Therefore there was some minimal stalking beforehand or he knew the locations from business delivery and over time had gathered enough data, incidentally and even causally, to know the basics of what he needed in order to pull off his spree of execution thrill murders.

E Kellogg-Wichita6

The route from Andover, on the right of the frame above, leads from the I-70 into Wichita.

On April 11, 1992, he seized the opportunity to kill the two women in the bridal shop. Perhaps he came intending to kill. But it is hard to figure how he knew they would be there after-hours. Therefore he was in Wichita for some other reason and was in the vicinity. Something happened that indicated someone was in the shop. Perhaps he recognized the owner’s car in the lot.  Maybe he saw one or more of them moving around inside. What was he doing on East Kellogg around 6 p.m.? What had brought him here this time and, apparently, many times before on routine matters?

In our next post, we go to Terre Haute, where there is a valuable clue.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Murder Pattern on the I-70– The I-70 Killer Part 2

It was an unexpected scene that greeted police. Very little cash had been stolen from the cash register, but for this it seems the young clerk had been killed. The body of 26 year old Robin Fuldauer was found in the back room of the Payless Shoe Source. She had been shot once to the back of the head, execution style. She had not been molested in any way.

The cash receipts offered the only real clue. From the records it seemed the killer must have come in the store during the lull after lunch– between 1:30 pm. and 2 pm. Robin had been alone at this time. The killer was assumed to have exited the backroom door after having coldly dispatched her. I-70 victim-Robin

The date was April 8, 1992. The place: Indianapolis on Pendleton Pike. The killer had been careful. No one suspected anything had happened until an employee of the gas station next door came and checked.

Everybody liked Robin; she had no enemies, etc. and so forth. The eulogies only serve to remind us there was no known motive to the murder.  No personal revenge. No psychopath with a sexual kink. And the small amount of money didn’t seem worth the trouble of robbing the store let alone killing the clerk.

The evidence was slim. The killer used a small caliber weapon– a .22 automatic. The shell casing left behind proved that. But shell casings also leave ejection marks. Although this was a small caliber, it seemed to be a specific type that could carry a large capacity ammo clip. This creep was ready to do some heavy duty shooting if necessary.

The Payless Shoes was in a stand-alone building with its own parking lot. Next to it  was a busy gas station. Across the street was an MAB Paint store. Auto repair and other facilities were nearby. There was a large shopping center close at hand. Payless--7325Pendleton Pike

It wouldn’t be long before two more women turned up shot to death in the same way. However, it would be hundreds of miles away in Wichita, Kansas. The date was April 11, 1992. The store was not stand alone. But it was one of a few in a small strip mall. They were there together after hours, and just at closing time (6 p.m.) the killer must have entered. The same .22 caliber was used. What was this creep’s kink?

This naturally started police looking into truckers, hitchhikers, traveling salesmen, etc. This is reserved for a future discussion. But from the looks of the location, it didn’t seem a heavy duty trucker could be responsible. The rig would not go unnoticed–  not unless he used his own car to come back to locations with which he was familiar in delivery.

But one thing became certain. This was revealed on April 27, 1992, in Terre Haute, Indiana. Mike McCown was found in a small shop shot to the back of the head with the same .22 caliber. He had been stocking ceramics in his mother’s shop on 3rd Street just a few blocks north of the I-70. He had a ponytail, as is often said, and the police think the killer just walked in and shot him in the back of the head, thinking he was a woman. Payless--7325Pendleton Pike12

The mistake reveals part of the killer’s MO. But the location revealed that the killer was going back and forth between Indianapolis and Wichita. He was using the I-70 highway. He was also on one hell of a killing spree. He had 4 victims already in less than a month.  He used a high capacity .22 caliber automatic. Each casing was also linked to the other by some red substance forensically lifted from it.

But the purpose of this installment is to concentrate on the first crime. Compared with the murders that happened soon thereafter, it is evidence the killer started out with his MO quite premeditated. He picked small shops at the right time when no customers were to be around. He seemed to favor killing young, petite women with dark hair, and simply made a mistake with McCown, also a brunette. So he obviously had some kind of overriding kink. Payless--7325Pendleton Pike6

The back door and two entrances to the parking lot, one leading off onto a relatively untraveled side street that heads south to the I-70.

It takes a while to discover the attribute above (brunette). But it seems it was learned not by visiting the stores in advance but by watching from across the street. Otherwise how could he mistake McCown for a woman? Had he visited the store before he would have known this. Had he made deliveries to the stores, he also would have known this.  . . .But across the street was a large car dealership and a body shop/garage. Attached to the strip mall in which was located the bridal shop in Wichita was also a body shop/garage. Along Pendleton Pike the same thing, with a large gas station and car mechanics shop next door to the Payless Shoes. If the killer mistook McCown for being a woman, it seems he had to be watching from across the street, from the car lot or body shop in Terre Haute.

Whatever this creep’s kink was, his MO wasn’t learned in just a few days, the time between the first and second strikes (April 8 and 11). The killer knew only women or a woman worked alone at the bridal shop and closed at 6 p.m. The store owner, one of the victims, also had brunette hair, and this showed a pattern. He must have been by the store before, enough to have watched it for a while. The same seems evidence with Payless Shoes and the young brunette Robin Fuldauer. It seems quite evident in Terre Haute.

In any case, we need not jump ahead yet to inductive logic.

Payless--7325Pendleton Pike11

The highway seemed less important at the first strike. I-70 was near, but Pendleton Pike could have been accessed in any number of ways, most likely from the 465. But the I-70 would figure soon– it obviously became the main artery along which the killer traveled back and forth to Wichita.  

At present, the killer was hitting along I-70. He traveled as far as Wichita from where he first struck in Indianapolis (or vice versa) . He struck once in between at Terre Haute, near the border of Indiana and Illinois. He obviously drove a lot. This and a large capacity .22 automatic removed hitch hikers from the scenario.

It also meant a serial killer was on the loose. A serial killer who was operating so quickly he was a spree killer, one with a large capacity automatic weapon. The potential was there for this guy to go nuts, really nuts, and start shooting up malls.

But let us not lose sight of the inherent arrogance involved here. Whatever set this guy off, he thought it perfectly all right to vent himself by killing innocent and unarmed women going about routine business.  The world was his trough, at least along the I-70. He was the hunter and it was his place to kill his victims. They existed to help him work off his frustration.

We will look at the second victims in our next post.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Beginning the Hunt– The I-70 Killer

In the fullness of time, my investigation of the I-70 Killer will go up on Quester Files with all the details that are a prerequisite necessary to get a section on the site. But to begin the hunt, let’s thrash some things out here in stripped-down blog form.

I won’t go into much detail from the cases, as the general overviews can be read by Googling.

A quick overview of the crime spree: In the spring (April) of 1992 a spree killer commenced with a barebones modus operandi. He carried a small caliber .22 pistol. He walked into small, retail stores and shot the young woman working therein. This was during times when the employee was alone in the store (except in one case). He shot them execution style in the back of the head. On a few occasions he ordered them back to the back room where he shot them. He stole some cash from the register and then left.

At his first strike, in Indianapolis, it looked like some punk who killed the store clerk in order to rob the place. But as the month continued on, more such murders and petty robberies were occurring over several states. Ballistics matched the gun. It was the same .22 pistol. The victims were all the same– young women with long hair, usually brunette. So it wasn’t just for robbery. He had some other kink.  But it wasn’t rape. He didn’t touch them. It also wasn’t just spontaneous. He knew women worked the store. So he did some minimal scouting beforehand or, as is my contention, frequented the areas for business and over time learned enough details from sight.

In any case, the killings ranged from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Wichita,  Kansas. After about a month (and 6 victims), he suddenly stopped. A year later the same MO was followed in Texas by a killer who struck off the I-35. The .22 caliber was a different model, but in essence the same thing happened. The guy walked in a store attended by only one employee (female) and then shot them in the back of the head. In January 1994 the 3 murders in Texas came to an end. And the crime spree was concluded.

Because the initial spree killings between Indianapolis and Wichita essentially occurred in towns accessed by the Interstate 70, he was called the I-70 Killer.

He was a hands-off killer, that is, he merely shot his victims. He didn’t touch them, with one suspected exception. This is evident in that his victim in Terre Haute, Indiana, was male– Mick McCown. But from the back he looked like a woman. He was petite, slim, and had a long pony tail. From the looks of it, he was merely stocking shelves at his mother’s ceramics store when his killer walked up behind him and shot him in the back of the head.

Although there is  some doubt that the I-35 Killer, as he is known is Texas (because, of course, the stores were off the I-35), is the same as the I-70, the I-35 Killer did the same thing with his last victim in Houston. He simply walked up and shot her in the back of the head while she was stocking shelves. THIS victim he drug behind the cash register, and thus there could be touch DNA. But the point here is that it was the same MO as in Terre Haute. This victim, Vicki Webb, survived. She is the only one.

From Webb we get a glimpse of what this creep was about. He drug her behind the cash register, left the store, came back, wandered around, robbed the store, and then stood over her again. She heard the trigger snap– he had fired again to put another hole in her head. Fortunately, the gun misfired. He laughed at the irony and left. He obviously wasn’t going to get his hands too dirty bludgeoning a victim or strangling her to finish the job. He just left, assuming she would die, and obviously knowing she hadn’t seen him to his face anyway.

He was seen at a couple of the I-70 strikes. The composites shown here are the two that match the most, indicating they are closest to his actual features.

i-70_serial_killer_pt_2

The perp is– white male, 22 to 32 years old, hang dog, sleepy eyes, brown-blond to reddish hair, high forehead, 5 foot 7 inches to 5 foot 9 inches, slender.  He obviously has access to a car or truck.

So the prime evidence lies in his pattern. Let’s start by geo-profiling. A pattern immediately stands out.

I-70 victims

April 8, 1992— 7235 Pendleton Pike
April 11, 1992 Wichita, Kansas– 4613 E. Kellogg
April 27, 1992 Terre Haute, Indiana– 2615 S. 3rd Street
May 3, 1992 St. Charles, Missouri –2079 Zumbehl Road
May 7, 1992 Raytown, Missouri –11573 E. 63rd Street
Texas
September 25, 1993– 4708 Bryce, Fort Worth, Texas
November 2, 1993– 4001 West Green Oaks, Arlington, Texas.
January 15, 1994– Houston, Texas (address currently unknown)

It is immediately apparent that all but two of the I-70 locations are in an auto retail part of town. In Indianapolis, there are a number of retail auto garages on this area of Pendleton Pike. In Wichita, the bridal shop was in a strip mall with a large auto garage at one end. In Terre Haute, there is a major dealership and auto garage across the street from the ceramics store.

The final 2 strikes in Missouri are quite at a contrast. There is no auto industry around the mall (St. Charles), and the book store where the victim worked could be easily accessed by parking behind it. The killer did not need to drive through or be seen in the large mall parking lot. This made is quite convenient, and this requires a little stalking or knowing the area.

In Raytown, Missouri, the shop is located rather far from the highway, in an area with no real industrial auto retail. This area also suggest the killer was familiar with it. Raytown is close to Kansas City, MO, and Kansas City, Kansas.

In essence, what a geo-profiling analysis first suggests is that the killer was based either around Kansas City (either MO or KS) or St. Louis, MO. Moreover, that he was somehow associated with the delivery of (or towing of automobiles) parts or mechanic work– Corundum and red rouge were forensically lifted at one crime scene indicating the killer’s association with some form of space that engaged in sanding. So it seems he was at least around industrial work and it seems associated with some driving and auto garage work.

It is a logical induction to state that the circumstances induce that he began his crime spree by kibitzing between poles– he started in Indianapolis, the furthest pole east from St. Louis or Kansas City (either MO or KS), and his next strike in Wichita was the furthest pole to the west of these central points.

In between these two poles, he strikes in Terre Haute (right off the I-70) and then finally in areas he seems to know best– St. Charles (right off the highway) and especially Raytown, Missouri.

I-70 Kibbitz

Rather than based around where he began at Indianapolis, he seems to be kibitzing back and forth, based likely in Missouri or Kansas (Kansas City area). A base here would make striking in Texas along the I-35 easier too next year.

I-35 probe

In late 1993, he probes down the I-35, which is straight down from Wichita. No strikes in Oklahoma City or in between. Houston seems far, or the creep is itinerant now. He doesn’t probe into Dallas, east of Fort Worth. He remains close to the I-35.

All areas are on main roads off major highways, especially the I-70. Wichita is accessed by cutting off the I-70 on the major freeway south– the I-35, which will beAmy Vess the same highway the I-35 Killer in Texas will follow the next year.

It is curious to note that the Arlington, Texas, victim (No. 2 on the Texas map above), Amy Vess, matches the type of victim the I-70 Killer concentrated upon– young, long hair, brunette. The other victim– Mary Glassock– was an outlier at age 51. However, the I-70 Killer made the mistake of killing Mick McCown, apparently thinking he was a young woman. These outliers shed light on the level of reconnaissance that the murderer engaged in. Mixed with his geo-profile these are valuable clues. (Since the last victim survived, there are no pictures of her in circulation.)

In the next post we will get into more details.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.