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Authorities have identified human remains found in a shallow grave in Indiana in 1983 as a victim of serial killer Larry Eyler.
More than 37 years after the remains of four human bodies were discovered on Oct.18, 1983 in Lake Village, Indiana by mushroom hunters, the Newton County Coroner’s Office has positively identified one of the men, known simply as “Brad Doe” for nearly four decades, as John Ingram Brandenburg Jr. of Chicago, according to a news release announcing the identification.
“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 some peace,” Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Goddard said in a release by the DNA Doe Project, who handled the identification effort alongside the coroner’s office.
All four men were drugged and murdered by deceased serial killer Larry Eyler, who was known as the Highway Killer.
Authorities had previously identified two of the other victims as Michael Bauer and John Bartlett, leaving just one man known as “Adam Doe” still unidentified.
The victims were discovered in a shallow grave at an abandoned barn off US-41.
After decades of not being able to identify Brandenburg—who was known by his mother as “Johnny”—the Newton County Coroner’s Office teamed with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the DNA Doe Project in late 2019 to take a new look at the case.
The team used DNA recovered to from the body to complete whole genome sequencing that was later uploaded to the genealogical database GEDmatch to try to find a biological relative of the victim. Authorities found a “close relative” that helped them make the positive identification.
“Our hearts are with the family and communities affected by John’s loss,” team leader L. Elias Chan said. “It’s for them that we commit ourselves to assisting law enforcement in these difficult identifications.”
The coroner’s office has declined to release any further information about the case until the family is given time to grieve, authorities said.
Eyler died in prison in 1994 from complications from AIDS, The Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
He had been sentenced to death in 1986 for the 1984 fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Daniel Bridges. The teen’s dismembered body was later found in a garbage bin.
Attorney Kathleen Zellner, who represented Eyler in his appeal, said the convicted killer continued to maintain he had not killed Bridges even on his death bed.
Several years earlier, in 1990, Eyler had confessed and was convicted of killing another man, 23-year-old Steven Agan in Indiana in 1982.
That same year, he had been prepared to confess to more than 20 other killings in Illinois and Indiana in exchange for life in prison, but the state refused to negotiate with him, the paper reported at the time.
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