Behind Center Grove High School: The Burger Chef Murders (Part 1)

I’ve always been a big fan of true crime and mystery. There’s always been one case that struck close to home that has had my interest since I was in my teens. It’s one that I’ve found not a lot of people know about or if they do, they don’t really know what happened. And, I WILL DIE ON THIS SWORD, I think the true killer or killers, still reside in the Center Grove area, or at least somewhere around it. They’re old and gray now, but they’re just chillin’ out, evading cops for more than 40 years.

So, let’s talk about the Burger Chef Murders.

It would have been a cool night on November 17th, 1978 in Speedway, Indiana when a delivery man pulled up to the Burger Chef restaurant located on Crawfordsville Road. It was 10:00 pm, so after closing time, but he found that all the doors were unlocked. There were supposed to be four young people working at the restaurant but not a soul was found inside. Although the delivery man didn’t quite understand the situation, he called the police anyway.

What the police found was even more odd. The restaurant was clean, no sign of struggle or forced entry. Everything was in its place except for about $500 missing from the register. Both Indiana State Police and Speedway Police brushed it off and never ran the place as a crime scene despite the fact that the women’s purses and a jacket were still there.

This mistake would haunt investigators for over 40 years.

The restaurant was cleaned and reopened the next day. The four young people were still nowhere to be found although Assistant Manager Jayne Friedt’s car had been found a few miles away from the restaurant with no one inside.

It wouldn’t be until two days later, on Sunday, that the bodies of the four young people would be found in a wooded area off State Road 37 behind Center Grove High School in Johnson County.

Source: The Indianapolis Star

The victims were: Jayne C. Friedt, age 20, Mark S. Flemmonds, age 17, Daniel R. Davis, 16 years old, and Ruth E. Shelton, age 17.

The bodies of the victims were scattered across three different areas. A witness would tell Channel 6 that they were all found facedown.

Friedt has been stabbed in the chest. It’s been theorized she tried to run but was caught. The blade of the knife was still stuck in her chest with the handle broken off.

That handle was never found.

Flemmonds choked on his own blood. He had been badly beaten, probably with a chain. It was theorized he tried to flee but ran into a tree and was knocked unconscious.

That chain was never found.

Davis and Shelton were shot point-blank in the back of the head right next to each other.

The gun was never found.

All of the victims were still clad in their Burger Chef uniforms.

Area in which the bodies were found. This area would have been woods and fields back in the 1970s.

So the police gathered all of the evidence they could after realizing it was a quadruple murder situation.

The uniforms with blood all over them. hair samples, blood samples, fingerprints ,and the bullets lodged in Davis’ and Shelton’s head. The knife blade from Friedt’s chest, cigarette butts from her car. And as much information they could get out of witnesses and family members.

And they went hunting for answers.

Witnesses were a dead end. Family members were a dead end. Telephone tip lines, dead end. Even the prisoners at the Indiana State Prison who, according to a State Trooper, always knew something when a violent crime occurred, were silent for once.

The police were dumbfounded. How could four young people be coveted away from their place of work by obviously multiple people, taken to the woods behind a high school and brutally murdered and no one knew a thing.

But then, a tip.

A 16-year-old called in with some important information. According to them, they saw two suspicious-looking men in a car outside of Burger Chef that night just before closing. Both men were white, in their thirties, one had a beard and the other was clean-shaven with light-colored hair. The police jumped on this, creating clay models of the heads to help try and identify these men.

Source: Indianapolis Monthly

Then the case went cold. Until a man in Greenwood started bragging about some disgusting stuff.

The man said he has been involved in the killings and gotten away with it. The police immediately questioned him, but he passed a polygraph test and they couldn’t charge him without any evidence. The man gave some names as to who he suspected might be involved but he was allowed to walk free.

The officers followed these leads and low and behold, found two men who matched the descriptions given by the witness. They had all even had criminal records that fit violent crimes and the man who matched the description of the bearded-man shaved his beard before he came in for a lineup. But without confessions and no evidence again, suspects walked free.

Rumors began to swirl. The people who brutally murdered the Burger Chef kids were connected to the murder of Julia Scyphers. No, they we connected to the Speedway bombings. Somebody owed drug money. A motorcycle gang did it for quick cash. People started questioning their own family, friends.

Ultimately, this was found to be untrue.

And the case went cold.

Fast forward to now, the case has now been cold for over 40 years.

And still, no one knows who committed the Burger Chef murders.

But I have a theory about that…

Drink Water. Stay Weird.

Justice xoxo

Source List: You know we love a good source list. All of the information I gathered came from one of the sources listed below!

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