On November 18, 1978, an off-duty employee of the Speedway Burger Chef, 5725 Crawfordsville Road, discovered the backdoor of the restaurant open and the staff missing. Four youthful employees were evidently abducted from the restaurant and $500 stolen. The kidnapping had no eyewitnesses.

Memorial to the four victims at the fortieth anniversary of the murders, 2018
Credit: HezOnIt500 via Wikimedia Commons

Over the next two days, police and volunteers mounted an intensive search for the missing employees and their kidnappers. Police discovered one employee’s car, which may have been used in the initial part of the abduction, near the Speedway Police Department. On Sunday, November 19, the bodies of the four employees were discovered in a rural wooded area in nearby Johnson County by a local property owner. Two victims had multiple gunshot wounds to the head, neck, and shoulders from .38-caliber slugs. A third had been stabbed to death with a hunting knife found in the body, and the fourth died from severe head injuries.

The police organized a multiple-agency task force to investigate the murders. Burger Chef Systems, Inc., headquartered in Indianapolis, posted a $25,000 reward ($100,000 in 2020) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderers and established a memorial fund for the families of the four victims. Despite thousands of hours devoted to the investigation, with leads pursued throughout the United States, the murderers remain unidentified.

On the 40th anniversary of the murders, the Indiana State Police (ISP) held a press conference and displayed a piece of evidence in hopes of opening memories to help gain information. The ISP hoped that new forensic technologies not in use at the time would help solve the case, the murders remained unsolved.

Revised February 2021

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