Searching for answers: A look at the unsolved I-70 Killer case

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It appears that this series of homicides were just about finished. Or they had stopped almost as quickly as they had started.”

-Joe Newport

A season of senseless killings began in Indianapolis on April 8, 1992 with the murder of Robin Fuldauer in Pendleton Pike.

“My investigation of Robin Fuldauer, who was 26 years old at the time when she was working at Payless Shoe stores,” said retired Indianapolis homicide detective Mike Crooke.

According to Crooke, the killer was charming.

He was able to convince Fuldauer to show him the back of the store, and that’s when he developed his Motis Operandi.

“Once he got into that back area he shot her and killed her,” said Crooke.

This phantom killer fled the scene out the back door which lead to Interstate-465, a direct link to Interstate-70.

He became known as the I-70 Killer, a nickname synonymous with the highway he allegedly used to carry out his brutal murders.

Map of the six killings

“From Indianapolis, our killer goes to Wichita. From Wichita back to Terre Haute. From Terre Haute to St. Charles, Missouri. And then to Raytown Missouri.”

– Mike Crooke, retired Indianapolis homicide detective

In Wichita, Kansas, he was almost caught at a bridal shoppe, La Bride d’Elegance.

Patricia Smith, 23 and Patricia Magers, 32 were closing the shop for the night when they received a phone call from a couple who had forgotten to pick up a cummerbund.

The two women agreed to stay open a bit longer.

Around six in the evening the killer snuck into the bridal shop, killing the women.

At the time the couple stopped by the shop to pick up the cummerbund, they found themselves first on the scene of a double homicide.

Their eyewitness account of the killer was enough to create a police sketch that is still used 27 years later.

Police sketch of eyewitness account

The I-70 Killer took to the interstate, headed back to Indiana.

And on April 27, he was in Terre Haute.

Joe Newport, former Chief of Detectives at Terre Haute Police Department, was sent to a local ceramics shop off the interstate.

“We had gotten a call down on south 3rd Street to a ceramics store,” he said. “I believe it’s name was Sylvia’s Ceramics.”

In the shop, police found the body of 40 year old Michael ‘Mick’ McCown, the only male victim.

He was shot in the back of the head while stocking shelves.

For years police have believed the killer mistakenly thought McCown was a woman, but those who knew him disagree.

“I don’t think it’s true. And neither do his friends or the rest of the family. I think he went into the ceramics shop because it’s named ‘Sylvia’s,'” said McCown’s sister Teresa Lee. “My mom’s name, expecting a woman.”

Lee doesn’t want him to be remembered as the “mistaken” victim in a string of unsolved murders.

Mick McCown still remembered fondly by family, friends and fellow musicians

He was a musician. I mean that was his passion. He was so tall and good-looking. Girls loved him from the bands. I just miss him. He was a really decent person.”

– Teresa Lee, sister of victim Mick McCown

McCown’s murder was a shock, not only to family and friends, but to police.

“He wasn’t a fighter or mean to anybody, you know. In fact when it first happened the police had, I don’t know, they had called just tons of people you know immediately,” said Lee. “Called everybody they could think of, and they said we can’t even find anybody who doesn’t like him.”

With no leads on a local suspect, THPD began to connect the dots with departments in Wichita and Indianapolis.

“The most important thing was to reach out to the other police departments.”

– Joe Newport, former THPD chief of detective

In early May, the killer was in St. Charles, Missouri.

He strolled into Boot Village, where he charmed Nancy Kitzmiller, 24.

“Kitzmiller, again she’s taken to the back room. She was working alone,” said Crooke. “Gets her to the back room, shoots her.”

His reign of terror came to an end on May 7, 1992, in Raytown, Missouri.

Thirty-seven-year-old Sarah Blessing was working alone at the Shop of Many Colors when she was murdered.

All six of the murders were similar, and no cash, if any, was ever missing from each shop.

If robbery is your primary motive for doing this, you would not have to kill, number one. And none of these businesses would be lucrative as far as having a lot of cash on hand.”

– Mike Crooke, retired Indianapolis homicide detective

In addition to the killer’s M.O., one piece of evidence linked all six murders together.

Shell casings from a .22 caliber handgun.   

Tribune Star article linking shell casings to six murders

This investigation is ongoing, but it’s been 27 years with no new leads.

Crooke has continued to work the case, even after leaving the Indianapolis PD. 

He has given several presentations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and has trained new detectives who take on the case.

This case is still open in all three states. Law enforcement wants justice for the victims, and the families.

We want people to know it’s not solved and that it’s still possible that somebody, even if our killer is dead or incarcerated somewhere, somebody may have a bit of information that can help us.”

– Mike Crooke, retired Indianapolis homicide detective

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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