CRIME HUNTER: I-70 Killer unleashed horror in the heartland

Article content

I-70 runs from Utah across the guts of the U.S. Midwest to Baltimore.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

The Interstate highway system has been happy hunting grounds for serial killers since former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower launched the ambitious project in the mid-1950s.

There’s the I-45 Killer who terrorized the stretch from Houston to Galveston, Texas. Randall Woodfield, the I-5 Killer of the Pacific Northwest and Upper Plains.

And the I-70 Killer whose bloodlust carried him across four states. His identity remains unknown but it’s believed he murdered six to eight store clerks in Missouri, Indiana, Kansas and Texas.

Now, detectives from the four states have joined forces to try and catch the maniac who typically targeted young, petite, brunette women. One man was also murdered, likely because he wore a ponytail.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“At one time, we had 70,000 names in those files,” retired St. Charles Police detective Pat McCarrick told two dozen detectives gathered for a summit on the probe. “The big difference now is the dramatic changes in technology, particularly DNA.”

A composite, with aging, of the I-70 Killer. HANDOUT/ ST. CHARLES POLICE
A composite, with aging, of the I-70 Killer. HANDOUT/ ST. CHARLES POLICE

McCarrick knows the I-70 Killer as well as anyone.

He was a young detective when Nancy Kitzmiller, 24, was shot to death in Missouri on May 3, 1992. She was believed to be the fifth official victim of the killer whose rampage covered April and May of 1992.

Three more shootings would happen in Texas in 1993 with one survivor.

Cops in the murder jurisdictions at the time were diligent. They checked every hotel, every jailbird released from prison and stopped a lot of cars, including that of movie star Kevin Costner.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

The veteran homicide detective said keeping at the case was fraught with internal battles about the probe’s time and expense. When that happened, he would bring out a 911 tape from one of the victims.

“She’s 22 years old, she’s been shot, she knows she’s been shot, she’s dying, she knows she’s dying, how she even managed to get to the phone and complete the call,” McCarrick said. “It’s a terrible thing to listen to.”

The I-70 Killer would target specialty stores and rob them. Most times he’d get away with just a few hundred dollars.

Payless ShoeSource manager Robin Fuldauer, 26, of Indianapolis was the first to die on April 8, 1992. She was alone in the store at the time and shot to death mid-afternoon.

He struck again at a bridal shop in Wichita, Kansas three days later. Patricia Smith, 23, and the store’s owner, Patricia Magers, 32, were killed shortly after closing. Cops believe they stayed open to serve a customer, who eventually arrived and came face-to-face with the killer before he found the two women dead.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

On April 27, Michael McCown, 40, was killed in his mother’s ceramics store in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was the only man killed.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

On May 3, Nancy Kitzmiller, 24, was killed while working alone at Boot Village, a footwear shop in St. Charles. She opened up the shop at noon and was found dead by customers at 2:30 p.m.

The last official slaying was gift shop owner Sarah Blessing, 37, who was shot to death in her store in Raytown, Missouri on May 7.

But it was McCarrick who connected the dots to Texas where Mary Ann Glasscock, 51, was murdered on Sept. 25, 1993, in Fort Worth at the Emporium Antiques store, and Amy Vess, 22, who was shot to death in a dance apparel store in Arlington on Nov. 1.

And then the killing suddenly stopped. The hunt for the killer has not.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

A 15-year-old boy killed March 27, 1961, in Alabama’s Bibb County has been identified as Daniel Paul “Danny” Armantrout. HANDOUT/NAMUS
A 15-year-old boy killed March 27, 1961, in Alabama’s Bibb County has been identified as Daniel Paul “Danny” Armantrout. HANDOUT/NAMUS

COPS UNRAVEL 60-YEAR-OLD MYSTERY

For 60 years, the teenage boy killed in an Alabama car crash was known only to God.

That changed this week when detectives announced they finally had a name for the dead boy: Daniel Paul “Danny” Armantrout, 15, from Tennessee.

The boy had run away from a tumultuous home life and hoped to maybe join the U.S. Marines. His quest ended when the driver who picked him up hitchhiking crashed his car into the Cahaba River on March 27, 1961.

The driver survived. The hitchhiker did not.

For decades, the boy went unidentified — until now. Scientists, genealogists and a band of amateur sleuths finally solved the mystery.

“It’s really a shocker to all of us,” Bibb County, Alabama, Coroner C.W. West told AL.com. “I had my doubts at first just because of how long it’s been. I am very relieved and excited and overwhelmed.”

Danny was born in Miami on Dec. 28, 1945. His parents, Alfred Valentine Armantrout and Virginia Leocadie Berner, divorced when he was young. They are both dead.

Cops tracked down a brother, now 77, in Florida who was serving in the military when Danny disappeared. He could never find the boy.

An older brother also vanished and remains missing.

bhunter@postmedia.com

@HunterTOSun

    Advertisement

    Story continues below

    Comments

    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

    Share:

    Share on facebook
    Facebook
    Share on twitter
    Twitter
    Share on pinterest
    Pinterest
    Share on linkedin
    LinkedIn
    On Key

    Related Posts

    On AIR

    Russtrat world