I-70 Killer

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I-70 Killer
I-70sketches.png
Various sketches of the I-70 Killer
Born
Unknown
Height5 ft 7–9 in (1.70–1.75 m)
Weight140–160 lb (64–73 kg)
Details
Victims6-8+
Span of crimes
April 8–May 7, 1992 (possibly January 15, 1994)
CountryUnited States
State(s)Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Texas (suspected)
Date apprehended
Never apprehended

The I-70 killer is an unidentified American serial killer who is known to have killed six store clerks in the Midwest in the spring of 1992. His nickname derives from the fact that several of the stores in which his victims worked were located a few miles off of Interstate 70 (I-70).

His victims were usually young, petite, brunette women. One of the victims was a man, but it is believed that he was mistaken for a woman by the killer as he often wore a ponytail. All of the stores attacked were speciality stores and were usually only robbed of a few hundred dollars.[1] He is also suspected of shooting three more store clerks in Texas during 1993 and 1994, one of whom survived.

Despite the case being featured on Unsolved Mysteries and Dark Minds, the killer is yet to be identified and investigators have not publicly identified any suspects.

1992 murder spree[edit]

The killing spree began on April 8, 1992 with the murder of 26-year-old Payless ShoeSource manager Robin Fuldauer in Indianapolis. She was alone in the store when she was shot, having been murdered sometime between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m.[1]

The next two murders occurred on April 11 at the La Bride d’Elegance bridal shop in Wichita.[2] The victims were Patricia Smith, 23 and the store's owner, 32-year-old Patricia Magers. As this was the only case involving multiple victims, investigators believe the killer was under the impression that there was only one woman in the store.[1] The women had stayed past the normal closing time of 6 p.m. to allow a male customer to pick up a cummerbund. Sometime after 6 p.m., the women allowed the killer into the store, thinking he was the customer they were waiting for. After the women were murdered, the actual customer arrived to pick up the cummerbund and came to face-to-face with the I-70 killer. The I-70 killer let the man go, who immediately notified police once the killer left. He would later provide details for a composite sketch.[2]

On April 27, Michael McCown, 40, was killed in his mother Sylvia's ceramics store in Terre Haute, Indiana. McCown was the only man killed during the spree and it is believed by investigators that the I-70 killer chose the store because the store's solo woman's name (Sylvia's Ceramics) seemed to make it a good target. Because McCown wore a ponytail[1] and was shot from behind, while he was kneeling to stock shelves, he may have been mistaken for a woman.

On May 4, 24-year-old Nancy Kitzmiller was killed while working alone at Boot Village, a footwear shop in St. Charles, Missouri. She opened up the shop at noon and was found dead by customers at 2:30 p.m.[3]

The final confirmed murder occurred on May 7 in Raytown, Missouri. The victim was 37-year-old Sarah Blessing who was working in her gift shop, Store of Many Colors. The murder occurred during the day, and the owner of the video store next to the Blessing’s shop saw the killer enter the shop, heard a pop, and then saw him leave. He discovered Blessing's body after checking to see what had occurred in the store. A clerk at a nearby grocery store also saw the suspect. He was climbing a hill towards I-70.[4]

Possible murders in Texas[edit]

Investigators believe the I-70 killer may be responsible for two murders in 1993, and an attempted murder in 1994, all of which occurred in Texas. The two murder victims were 51-year-old Mary Ann Glasscock, who was killed on September 25, 1993 in Fort Worth at the Emporium Antiques store, and 22-year-old Amy Vess, who was shot to death in a dance apparel store in Arlington on November 1.[3]

The surviving victim was Vicki Webb, 35, who was shot on January 15, 1994 in Houston at the Alternatives gift shop. She briefly talked to the shooter before he shot her in the back of the head. The bullet did not penetrate into Webb's head due to a large vertebra being hit. The shooter attempted to shoot her again, but his gun misfired, and he left presuming Webb to be dead.[1]

The modus operandi of the Texas killer was very similar to the I-70 killer and used a .22-caliber firearm, the same caliber as the I-70 killer. A ballistics test determined that the gun used in the Texas murders was not the same as the one used in the I-70 killings, however, so investigators have not been able to confirm that the I-70 killer was responsible for the shootings in Texas.[1]

Investigation[edit]

The murders were conclusively linked after a St. Charles detective suspected a connection. All of the murders were committed with a .22-caliber firearm and the victims were usually petite, young women with long dark hair. Aside from the Wichita murders, all the victims were alone. All were shot in the back of the head. None of the scenes had any signs of sexual assault and while all stores were robbed, robbery appeared to be a secondary motive as all the stores were small specialty businesses, which did not have much money. The murders took place at slow times of day when the stores were deserted, such as after lunch or around closing time. They were all in strip malls near I-70.[1]

Based on witness testimonies, police strongly believe the murder weapon may have been an Intratec Scorpion pistol or an Erma Werke ET22 pistol.[3][4] They have not, however, been able to rule out any other .22-caliber firearm models.[3] The ammunition used in the killings was .22-caliber CCI copper-clad lead bullets.[3][4] The cartridges of the bullets showed traces of jeweler's rouge.[3]

Midwest authorities linked the killer to the shootings in Texas in 1994, but Texas authorities were not convinced of a connection as different guns were used in each spree.[1]

Based on witness descriptions, investigators were able to produce two composite sketches of the killer and a physical description of the suspect. The I-70 killer was described as being a white man in his twenties or thirties, 5'7" (1.70 m) to 5'9" (1.75 m) tall, thin and having lazy eyelids and sandy blond or reddish hair in 1992.[1][3][4] If he is still alive, he would be in his fifties or late forties.

Police have not publicly identified any suspects and the case has been classified as a cold case.[2]

Popular culture[edit]

The case has been featured on Unsolved Mysteries[5] and Investigation Discovery's Dark Minds.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Penner, Diana. "Indiana Unsolved: I-70 Killings Left 6 Victims in 3 States". Indianapolis Star.
  2. ^ a b c Leiker, Amy. "1992 Murders at Bridal Shop Unsolved but not Forgotten by Women's Families". The Wichita Eagle.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Answers Remain Elusive 20 Years After St. Charles Murder, Part of Interstate Spree". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  4. ^ a b c d "20 Years Later, 'I-70 Killer' Still At Large". Kansas City, MO: KMBC-TV.
  5. ^ "I-70 Serial Killer". Unsolved.com. Lifetime.
  6. ^ "I-70 Killer". IMDb.com.

External links[edit]