LAKE VILLAGE, Ind. — For nearly four decades, two of the four victims of serial killer Larry Eyler, whose remains were discovered in a shallow grave in an abandoned barn lot off US 41 a half-mile north of SR 10 in Newton County, have gone unidentified.
That changed on April 24, 2021, when the Newton County Coroner’s Office and the DNA Doe Project confirmed the identity of one of the men as John Ingram Brandenburg, Jr. of Chicago. He was previously known only as “Brad Doe.”
Of the four victims found, three have now been identified. Michael Bauer and John Bartlett were identified early in the investigation leaving “Adam Doe” and “Brad Doe” unidentified for years.
According to a press release, in late 2019, after exhausting all leads, the Newton County Indiana Coroner’s Office, in a combined effort with the Newton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, reached out to the DNA Doe Project for assistance with the case. DNA extract was obtained from UNT Center for Human Identification. The process took additional time while UNT ran a Family Reference Sample (FRS) comparison. In January of 2021, the DNA was sent to HudsonAlpha Discovery for whole genome sequencing. In March of 2021, bioinformatics work was performed by Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations in Belton, Texas. This process produced a file suitable for upload to genealogical databases. On April 2, 2021, the file was uploaded to GEDmatch. The top match was a close relative which led to the identification.
Upon confirmation of Brandenburg’s identity, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Goddard remarked, “While my heart breaks for this family, I’m thankful that they finally have some of the answers they’ve waited so long for, and I hope this brings them peace. The DNA Doe Project has been amazing to work with. Every person I’ve encountered in the organization has been extremely professional, compassionate, and highly skilled. Newton County is very fortunate to have been able to partner with such a dedicated and knowledgeable group of volunteers.”
“The Newton County Coroner’s Office would like to thank Rebecca Goddard and the DNA Doe Project for their many hours of volunteer work to bring this case to a close after all these years,” stated Coroner Scott McCord. “There are so many other people and organizations that supported and assisted this effort, and they too are thanked.”
DNA Doe Project Team Leader L. Elias Chan stated, “We greatly benefited from their participation and involvement in our research process, and thank them for entrusting us with Brad Doe’s case. Our hearts are with the family and communities affected by John’s loss. It’s for them that we commit ourselves to assisting law enforcement with these difficult identifications.”
The DNA Doe Project wishes to acknowledge the contributions of those groups and individuals who helped solve this case: Scott McCord and the Newton County Indiana Coroner’s Office; Rebecca Goddard, Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Newton County, Indiana; Indiana State Police; HudsonAlpha Discovery for sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; GEDmatch/Verogen for providing their databases; our donors and the DNA Doe Project volunteers who tirelessly work to bring victims home.
On October 18, 1983 mushroom hunters discovered the four human bodies buried in the shallow grave Forensic investigators determined Brad Doe to be a White/Caucasian male, aged 17 – 23 years old, and approximately 5’5” tall. He had two non-professional appearing tattoos on his right forearm. The young man had severely fractured his nose earlier in life and also fractured his left ankle. Evidence revealed he had been drugged, bound, and stabbed to death sometime between 1981 and 1983.
Larry William Eyler was an American serial killer who is believed to have murdered a minimum of 21 teenage boys and young men in a series of killings committed between 1982 and 1984 in several Midwestern States. Convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection for the 1984 kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Daniel Bridges, Eyler later voluntarily confessed to the 1982 murder of 23-year-old Steven Ray Agan, offering to also confess to his culpability in 20 further unsolved homicides if the state of Illinois would commute his sentence to one of life imprisonment without parole.
Eyler died of AIDS-related complications in 1994 while incarcerated on death row. Shortly before his death, he confessed to the murders of 20 further young men and boys to his defense attorney, Kathleen Zellner, now well known as being the attorney for Steven Avery of Netflix’s Making a Murder, although he denied being physically responsible for the actual murder of Daniel Bridges, which he insisted had been committed by an alleged accomplice in five of his homicides, Robert David Little.
With her client’s consent, Zellner posthumously released Eyler’s confession following the formal announcement of his death.
Eyler was known as the “Interstate Killer” and the “Highway Killer” due to the fact many of his confirmed and alleged victims were discovered across several Midwestern States in locations close to or accessible via the Interstate Highway System