04-19-2007, 09:18 AM #1
IN - Burger Chef murders in Speedway, 1978
This case has always haunted me because the victims were found really close to my home...
They have never caught the persons responsible
Burger Chef Murders of 1978
..Friday, November 17, 1978
Sometime after 11:00pm when the Burger Chef at 5725 N. Crawfordsville Road closes, four employees are
robbed of less than $600. The robbers may have entered through a back door as one of the workers took out
the trash. Some or all of the four may have then been forced into assistant manager Jayne Friedt’s white 1974
Chevrolet Vega. Her purse and that of cashier Ruth Ellen Shelton are left behind at the restaurant.
Shortly after midnight, an off-duty employee comes by the Burger Chef and sees the back door ajar, the cash
registers open and the restaurant vacant. Both female employees as well as two cooks, Daniel Davis and Mark
Flemmonds are gone. Speedway Police are dispatched. Officers find the store manager’s office in disarray, two
empty currency bags are missing but rolls of change are left behind. An empty roll of adhesive tape is found
nearby, as well as Shelton’s jacket.
.After sunrise, police find Jayne Friedt’s car abandoned in the 5500 block of West 15th Street, a block and a
half from the Speedway Police Department. The driver’s side door is locked, but the passenger door isn’t.
The keys are missing. A police chaplain is sent to the home of Friedt’s parents.
A miscommunication leads employees to clean the Burger Chef restaurant for re-opening, potentially
removing critical evidence at the robbery scene. Management decides to keep the store temporarily closed
As word of the apparent kidnapping spreads, a 16-year-old Westside boy calls police to say that he saw two
suspicious men in a car outside the Burger Chef just before closing on Friday night. Both were white and in
their 30’s. One man had a beard and the other was clean-shaven with light colored hair. The bearded man
told the teenager and his girlfriend to leave the area because there’d been “lots of vandalism going on.”
While he talked, the bearded man held a handkerchief to his mouth and kept his head low in the car.
Sunday, November 19, 1978
.]Two Johnson County residents walking through their wooded property on Stones Crossing Road just east of
State Road 37 find the bodies of the four employees. Daniel Davis and Ruth Ellen Shelton had been shot
multiple times execution-style. Jayne Friedt had been stabbed twice in the chest. The handle of the knife
had broken off and was missing; the blade was recovered at autopsy. Mark Flemmonds had suffered a blunt
force head injury, possibly from running into a tree while trying to escape. It is later determined that he had
been beaten prior to his death.
Last edited by Kimster; 05-01-2011 at 11:31 AM.
04-19-2007, 04:05 PM #2
I vaguely remember that. I was 13 years old in 1978. Used to live in Indianapolis until about 3rd grade, then moved 20 miles south to Franklin, IN. Now I'm even further south in Kentucky.
04-20-2007, 03:04 AM #3Registered User
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- Oct 2005
trash is dangerous
I remember a bit about the case because I was researching another case where someone disappeared while taking out the trash and this led to my researching crimes that occurred while taking out the trash. I wanted to see if this was a common thing and also to learn if there were any trends such as similar crimes happening alot in one area.
I learned that it is not rare to have employees attacked or a store robbed when an employee takes out the trash. Infact robbers seem to know you have to go take out the trash eventually and they seem to wait for it, much like a predatory animal waits for prey by the watering hole.
04-20-2007, 03:16 AM #4Registered User
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- Aug 2005
I think these predators watch people working and know what shift they have.
I believe this is a pattern for a few girls missing from Pa. Some of the girls went out to make a phone call , others left the store they worked at on break. I don't think these relate to robberies. I think it's just opportunity.
05-02-2007, 08:09 PM #5Inactive
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- May 2007
Yes, I remember the Burger Chef murders I was just thirteen years old at the time. The thing about it is I was at work talking to my coworkers,employer and asked if they remembered the murders. One of them did remember, we thought that the police and other officals had solve the crimes I was shocked to go on the web and find out that the case had not been solved.
05-12-2009, 04:16 PM #6Registered User
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- Apr 2009
Burger Chef Cold Case Gets New Emphasis
November 3, 2003
There are new developments in an unsolved murder mystery.
The 1978 kidnappings and murders of four Burger Chef employees form a cold case that is nearly 25 years old.
I-Team 8 has learned that state police plan to take a new, fresh look at this murder mystery. Investigators who've worked the case before will meet with today's detectives to compare notes. They're anticipating new interest because the 25th anniversary of the Burger Chef murders is now just two weeks away.
One of the Indiana's most notorious unsolved murder cases will get a fresh look from investigators.
“We are reevaluating where the investigation has gone over the past 25 years. We are going to develop a new strategy which will be a combination of old fashioned detective work and 21st century technology,” said Detective Bill Vann, Indiana State Police.
In November 1978, four employees were abducted from the Speedway Burger Chef at closing time. They'd been robbed of less than $600. They were missing for a day and a half.
One of them was Northwest High School junior Ruth Ellen Shelton. “If Ruth Ellen could get loose at all, she'll call home, and she would have. But it didn't happen,” said Rachel Shelton, Ruth Ellen’s mother.
The bodies of the four were found in a wooded section of Johnson County. Shelton’s coworker Mark Flemmonds had been beaten. Jayne Friedt had been stabbed. Both Daniel Davis and Ruth Ellen Shelton were shot to death. Jayne Friedt's abandoned car was found not far from the Burger Chef. It yielded no clues. Police could find neither motive nor murder weapons. Months went by, with promising leads turning to empty promises.
“You learned not to get your hopes built up in it. Kind of like the first telephone call after she was missing. We were both in the living room and we ran to the phone. Later we learned to walk,” said Rachel Shelton.
“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,” said Detective Ken York.
York was a state police detective on the case from the start. After witnesses helped create composite drawings and clay busts of two men seen at the restaurant just before closing, a tip from an informant led York to a group of men who'd been robbing fast food restaurants. Facing unrelated robbery and firearms charges, the two most likely Burger Chef suspects were offered a deal.
“Total immunity if they would tell what they knew about the Burger Chef case and take a polygraph to back that up, if either one of them could say that neither one of them inflicted a killing injury on one of the victims. Both of them went to prison rather than take a polygraph test or talk about it,” said York.
There were anonymous tips and false confessions before the case came to a dead end.
Today, that wooded area is now this subdivision. Over the years there was simply not enough evidence in this case to convict anyone. Tips still do trickle in, but few have any substance.
“Part of me must still want to see it solved, but part of me doesn't want to see it. I don't want to go through it again,” said Shelton.
Ever since the day her child and three others were buried, Rachel Shelton found comfort in one place. “’As the Book of Job suggests: the righteous do not always triumph in this life, and the wicked do not always fail,’” she said, quoting the Bible.
Ken York doubts that families could find comfort without a conviction. “If that were my child I think it would bother me more that there's such strong indications, but not to a level of trial or conviction. That these guys have walked free and clear for 25 years while my kids lie in the grave. It'd be no comfort to me,” he said.
“The Indiana State Police has not forgotten their loved ones and we will do everything, we will follow up on every lead possible until those responsible for the murders of these four young people are brought to justice,” said Vann.
I-Team 8 will continue to stay on this story and bring you developments as they come in.
If you have information about this case, contact Sgt. Bill Vann at email@example.com
05-12-2009, 04:39 PM #7
These murders happened before I was born, but I remember seeing some local news coverage on it a few years ago. I would love to see this case solved.
05-12-2009, 04:44 PM #8
I was actually reading about these murders a couple months ago.'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated'
05-13-2009, 08:10 PM #9Registered User
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- May 2009
I'm collecting whatever information that I can find on this. I live only minutes from where the victim's bodies were found and have taken a recent interest in the Burger Chef Murders. I do know that law enforcement has not given up on this one. Donald Forrester who confessed to the murders (most likely a false confession) is now deceased, so obviously law enforcement didn't take his confession seriously or believe that he didn't act alone.
05-14-2009, 01:59 PM #10Registered User
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- Jul 2005
05-21-2009, 09:08 AM #11Registered User
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- Aug 2008
I remember hearing about the Burger Chef murders and am so glad it's not forgotten. Maybe someday there will be some sort of closure (whatever that means) for the remaining family members. They'll never forget but I hope there's some sort of peace for them.
There was another restaurant murderer maybe ten years later in the Castleton area of Indianapolis. I can't remember the specifics but if my memory serves correctly there were similarities between the two. I'm also pretty sure that they caught the murderer(s) of that one and the restaurant was shut down immediately after.
Whoever coined the phrase 'senseless act of violence' knew what they were talking about.
11-02-2009, 07:09 PM #12
I remember seeing a poster about this in a Burger Chef in this area after it took place. Apparently whoever did this must have really paniced. Normally those who rob a business at closing time are just looking for money and not involving themselves in kidnapping and murder. As multiple employees were taken from the premises, you would think it was the work of more than one person. Too bad the young person who saw the two males parked in the lot close to closing time didn't get their license plate number.
Last edited by Cincinnati Kid; 11-02-2009 at 10:42 PM.
11-02-2009, 08:44 PM #13
Interesting case. IMO though, the only way they will solve this after so many years is a)they have dna or other material evidence (which I have seen no mention of)
b) Someone comes forward.
B seems more logical. I have found in many cases that these perps, especially where robbery was the prime motive, brag to at least 1 person in their life. It's a fact. These pos like to boast, it increases their ego that they have gotten away with something at least once. It makes them feel above the law, invinceble.
So my guess is that someone out there knows something and with renewed interest in the media with this case maybe they will come forward.Cindi Lou
Some people may consider me crazy, I say I'm just inspired.
11-02-2009, 10:46 PM #14
Unfortunately, over 30 years has gone by since this took place. You would think that if someone was going to come forward, it would have happened. This time frame also effects memories of the events of that night as well as information such as vehicle registration, etc.
11-22-2009, 04:19 PM #15Registered User
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- Nov 2009
I have known the family for years, jayne was in my wedding, they (state police)know who did this but unfortunately so many departments were on the scene and the evidence was contaminated at the Burger Chef and where there found jayne, it is hard to bring charges. A Indiana state police detective admitted this to me and the family years ago. i have faith they will be able to solve this case officially eventually.
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