Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

(Alleged) serial killer Herb Baumeister and "civil discourse"---what's the connection?

   On Saturday, April 20, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., we shall stream "live" from what once was the farm/estate of Herbert R. Baumeister. In the early 1990s, after investigators suspected a link between the disappearances of young men in Indianapolis and Baumeister, police eventually were able, with Baumeister's by then estranged wife, to search the property. Eventually the search uncovered the remains of 11 people who had been strangled. While police searched, Baumeister traveled to Canada and committed suicide. After his death the disappearances stopped, as did the string of murders perpetrated by a person the press called the "I-70 killer," because those deaths occurred near I-70, between Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis---a route Baumeister regularly traveled.

   Our guest panelists will include Detective Cary Mulligan, the investigating detective on the case in 1996;  Rob Graves, current owner of the place; and Marilene Isaacs, a researcher and intuitive.

   Nearly 17 years have passed since Baumeister's death and what one would infer to be the closing of the cases. Why would "Civil Discourse Now" have, as a focal topic, a group of 17-year-old, closed serial killings? What do they have to do with civil discourse?

   George Santayana's observation, or variations of it, has been repeated frequently over the years: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  Some in law enforcement estimate that, at any given time, at least 50 serial killers are active in the United States.

   Our culture is fascinated by serial killers. They instill fear---the Boston Strangler and the D.C. snipers drove people into their homes. We could add to those cases communities caught in terror as far back as London in 1888 with the "Jack the Ripper" slayings. A few years later, in Chicago, H.H. Holmes, a University of Michigan-educated physician, wreaked havoc in Indianapolis but, on a grander scale, in Chicago.

   With 9/11 we were asked to watch for suspicious people in order to report them to authorities. Last evening, I listened to the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of Boston ask members of the public to contact authorities if anyone had heard someone fixated on bombings, the Marathon, or if they had heard noises indicative of someone at practice with bombs. In the United States we pride ourselves on our freedom. One may argue we have far fewer freedoms than either we imagine or the people of other countries enjoy. To report "suspicious" people to the police seems to go against this notion of what we are as a country.

   Of course, we also, as a country, maintain the world's largest military, largest prison inmate population, and highest numbers of death from gun violence.

   On Saturday we shall discuss the crimes allegedly committed by Baumeister, how people can be vigilant for their own safety, and how we can address such problems as a  society or on the level of local communities.

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