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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.