ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cold Case: Teen Murders in Home of Indianapolis 500

Updated on November 24, 2013
Burger Chef restaurant in 1978
Burger Chef restaurant in 1978

Thirty-five years ago, John and Rachel Shelton received the type of phone call dreaded by parents worldwide.The Indiana State police told them that their 17-year old daughter was missing. Ruth Shelton, along with co-workers, Daniel Davis and Mark Flemmonds, both 16, and assistant manager, Jayne Friedt, 20, had been abducted from their jobs at a Burger Chef restaurant which was located in the small town of Speedway, Indiana.

Four Young Workers Missing

The four young adults were on the clean-up crew that cold night in November 1978. Police theorize that one or more of the employees opened the back door to take the daily garbage out.

Unfortunately, they may have let more garbage in. A few minutes after midnight, an off-duty employee rode by the fast food restaurant and discovered the back door open and the cash registers empty.

Speedway police would later find the manager's office had been ransacked. They discovered two empty cash bags and both girls' purses. Approximately $600 was missing. Also, missing -- a white Chevy Vega belonging to the assistant manager. Police organized a massive search for the missing teens.

The parents begin a prayer vigil. Mrs. Selton recounts, "I was on the verge of falling apart. The main thing I remember asking him was, 'Lord, put your arms around Ruth Ellen and let her know you are there with her."

The next day, the police found the missing Chevy; it was parked about a mile from the Speedway police department. Police begin to receive leads on the case.

One 16-year-old boy provided credible information. He and his girlfriend had seen two suspicious men parked outside the restaurant the night of the kidnapping. Both were young -- perhaps in their 30s. One had a dark beard; the other light-brown hair. The beaded man had addressed the couple and cautioned the young man to "take his girlfriend home." He added that there had been a lot of vandalism in the area lately. The boy said the man had kept his face ducked down and partially obscured by a handkerchief as he talked. He was able to provide a description for a composite.

Composite sketch of the beaded man
Composite sketch of the beaded man
Composite of the fair-haired man
Composite of the fair-haired man

Sad Discovery

On Sunday, two Johnson County residents, taking a walk on their wooded property, happen upon a grisly crime scene -- four lifeless bodies.

Daniel and Ruth Ellen had been shot many times. Jayne Freidt had been stabbed to death with such force, the knife handle had snapped off. Mark Flemmonds had suffered blunt force head injuries -- later it was determined he had been beaten with a chain. He had choked to death on his blood. The victims were about 40 miles away from the Burger Chef restaurant.

State Police detective, Ken York was assigned to the case. He felt that two to four people were involved in the crime. Detective York began shifting through the leads. One man bragged of participating in the killings during a drinking spree at a local Greenwood bar. He was questioned and later passed a polygraph test. He denied any participation in the crime, but offered additional information on the possible killers.

He led police to two other men he said were involved in fast food restaurants robberies. The first bore a striking resemblance to the bearded suspect. And, the police would later discover, the bearded man's next door neighbor was suspected of several robberies involving a shotgun. They would later refer to these two as the bearded man and shotgun man.

Prosecutors offered plea bargains to the shotgun and fair-haired suspect if they would provide information on the Burger Chef killings. They declined and the bearded man even shaved his beard when threatened with a line up. The two were convicted of crimes unrelated to the killings and were sent to the Indiana State Penitentiary.

Trail Grows Cold

Years later, the bearded man would die of a heart attack. Later, his son would tell the police that his father had admitted an involvement in the crime prior to his death. The man whose initial drunken bragging led to the suspect would commit suicide. In 1996, inmate Donald Forrester, who was serving a 95-year prison sentence for sexual assault, confessed to the 1978 crime. His confession was met with skepticism by the police who consider the crime still unsolved. Supposedly, the shotgun man and fair-haired suspect still live in Indiana.

Detective York has since retired. "I've said many times, down through the years, unless someone confesses, or some policeman proves differently, I''ll go to my grave still believing that they killed those kids," he says.

And their parents must wrestle with the fact that the killers went unpunished -- at least in this life. Mrs. Shelton relies on her faith for guidance and sustenance ". . . in this life the wicked do not always fail," she quotes. She says she hopes one day the guilty will confess . . . not to man, but to God.

Recent information suggests that these murders may be linked to a series of fast food robberies in the Indianapolis areas. Sergeant Bill Vance has discovered that Assistant Manager, Friedt,had worked previously at another Burger Chef in Plainsfield, Indiana. He wonders if the robbery of the Speedway Burger Chef escalated to murder after Ms. Friedt recognized one of the robbers from the previous robbery. The case remains open with the $25,000 reward established by Burger Chef unclaimed. Contact Sgt. Bill Vann at the Indiana State Police -- 317-899-8508 -- if you can provide information on this case.

Speedway is a small city on the outskirts of Indianapolis and is home to the renowned Speedway racing track, home to the Indy 500. The Burger Chef franchise of 600 stores was based in Indianapolis, The franchise was acquired by Hardees.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Nate 

      4 years ago

      Is the reward still available?

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR

      ExpandYourMind 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Dallas and Pam,thanks for stopping in. And, yes, Pam we have to stay aware and in prayer.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      What a horrible, sad crime. This makes you know you always need to be aware of your surrounding when you are out shopping. I feel such compassion for the families.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Wow...

      Thanks for sharing.

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR

      ExpandYourMind 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for your perception-- this was hard to recount. I can't imagine what their parents have gone through over the years. It's sad to think about how little value life seems to have for others.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      What a senseless thing to do. Thanks for a very hard hub. These are rough on the person creating the hub. God bless.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)