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Eli E. STUTZMAN Jr.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Parricide - Gay Amish man - HIV positive - Robbery
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: 1977 / 1985
Date of birth: 1950
Victims profile: His wife (eight months pregnant) / Glen Albert Pritchett, 24 / David M. Tyler, 36 / Dennis Slaeter, 24 / His 9-year-old son, Daniel
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Ohio/Texas/Nebraska, USA
Status: Sentenced to 40 years in prison in Texas in August 1989. Paroled in 2005. Committed suicide on January 31, 2007
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Grave accusations

Death of gay Amish man reopens investigation of Durango murders

February 25, 2007

By Shane Benjamin | Herald Staff Writer

The year was 1985.

Durango had gone 3 1/2 years without a murder.

That all changed Nov. 10 when a passenger on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad spotted a decaying body in a truck bed in the 1400 block of Main Avenue. The victim, according to police, died from a severe head injury. Three weeks later another body turned up - this one in a room at Junction Creek Liquors. The store clerk was shot at close range in what appeared to be a robbery.

Police collected evidence and took interviews, but after a few weeks, both cases went cold.

Now, 21 years later, both murder mysteries are receiving new life.

Durango police have requested fingerprints and DNA samples from Eli Stutzman, a 56-year-old killer who committed suicide last month in Fort Worth, Texas. The Amish-born man spent 16 years in prison for killing his roommate, Glen Pritchett, in May 1985. While on the run, Stutzman lived on a ranch in La Plata County. It was during this time that two Durangoans lost their lives.

"It's a person of interest that we've had for a while," said Durango police Sgt. Tony Archuleta. "If there is a match, we'll at least be able to close it out - that he was the perpetrator. We'll have to see where the evidence leads us."

No progress has been made on the Durango murders for 21 years, because police have not had enough evidence to arrest Stutzman or force him to give prints and DNA samples, Archuleta said. And prints obtained from a Texas prison were inadequate, he said.

But with Stutzman dead, and no one willing to claim his body, investigators have obtained a new set of prints and a DNA sample.

A serial killer?

If police do link Stutzman to the Durango murders, it could expose him as a serial killer. In 1977, Stutzman's wife died in a suspicious barn fire. She was eight months pregnant. And on Christmas Eve 1985, the body of Stutzman's 9-year-old son, Danny, was found frozen in a ditch along U.S. 81 in Chester, Neb., wearing a blue sleeper. The town nicknamed the child Little Boy Blue.

The death of Stutzman's wife was chalked up as a tragedy; Danny's death was more suspicious. Stutzman said Danny died quietly and unexpectedly while they were driving from Wyoming to Ohio. Scared and bewildered, Stutzman said he ditched the body along the roadside and covered it with snow.

"I had difficulty facing the fact that he had died," Stutzman told a Nebraska courtroom. "I couldn't understand. I couldn't figure out why. I decided to leave him and let God take care of him."

For leaving his son in a ditch, Stutzman was convicted of abandoning a body and concealing a death, a misdemeanor, and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Authorities never could identify how Danny died. For killing his roommate in May 1985, Stutzman was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but he was paroled in spring 2005 after serving only 16 years. He was found dead Jan. 31 in his Fort Worth apartment with a cut to his left wrist.

Two murders in a month

For 21 years, Durango police have tried to solve the murders of David M. Tyler, 36, and Dennis Slaeter, 24.

Tyler was found dead Nov. 10, 1985, in a truck bed outside Automatic Transmission Exchange, a business he co-owned in the 1400 block of Main Avenue.

Slaeter was found shot to death Dec. 5, 1985, in a basement room at Junction Creek Liquors, where he worked as a clerk.

Evidence suggests Stutzman and Tyler knew each other, were both gay and used drugs, according to Gregg Olsen, author of Abandoned Prayers, a true-crime novel about Danny Stutzman's death that hit No. 7 on The New York Times bestseller list in 2003. There is even evidence to suggest that the two men attended the same party Nov. 8, 1985 - two days before Tyler's body was found in the trailer.

"Definitely David Tyler was a member of the gay community, which Stutzman was," Olsen said from his home in Seattle. "David Tyler was also a drug person. Eli was."

It is unknown if Stutzman and Slaeter knew each other; although Tyler and Slaeter were acquaintances, Olsen said.

David Tyler

According to Durango Herald archives, Tyler lived in Durango for 3`BD years. He was one of three owners of the automotive shop and worked as a manager and a mechanic. He lived on Fourth Avenue, wasn't married and had no family in the area.

Friends described Tyler as friendly, mellow, an occasional drug user and a good mechanic. People who didn't know Tyler well said he seemed "dumb" or distracted. He liked to hang out at the Diamond Belle Saloon, but most of the time he went home after work.

Tyler, who was gay, told friends he received death threats by telephone from someone who hated homosexuals. It scared him enough to carry a handgun.

The last time Tyler was seen alive was Saturday night, Nov. 9, at the Holiday Inn, where police found his light brown GMC Suburban.

Police identified "persons of interest" and collected physical evidence, but there wasn't enough to make an arrest, said former Durango police Chief Chris Wiggins, in an interview last week. "We just never could quite put anything together," he said from his home in Durango.Archuleta, who was a patrol officer at the time, said police have preserved physical evidence from the crime scene, but he declined to be more specific.

Dennis Slaeter

Slaeter was two weeks away from earning a degree in industrial psychology from Fort Lewis College when he was shot to death, according to Herald archives.

He had worked at Junction Creek Liquors for about six months, usually two or three nights a week - a job "he didn't need," according to a sister.

He was tall, athletic and had curly blondish hair, the sister told the Herald about a week after the shooting. She described him as a "gentle giant `85 who, even as a child, wouldn't get into a fight with his brother and six sisters."

He enjoyed the mountains, playing touch football and was learning to telemark ski.

Police surmised that some transient blew through town, committed the robbery and murder, and left, Wiggins said. Slaeter was taken in the basement and shot, possibly to hide the sound of the gunshot, he said.

"We felt at the time it was somebody moving through the town, committed that particular crime, and just kept on going," Wiggins said.

But it was the second murder in three weeks, and residents were becoming unnerved. "There was a lot of concern as to where the town was headed," Wiggins said.

'I still think about them'

What was most disturbing about the slayings was how senseless they seemed, how closely together they occurred and how they went unsolved, said Mike Smedley, news editor at the Herald at the time. Smedley now writes a column for the newspaper.

"It was a real jolt to the community - not only for having murders, but for having unsolved murders," he said.

Slaeter's murder seemed especially senseless. "The thinking at the time was it was somebody coming through town needing money, stole the money, and then killed somebody to cover it up," Smedley said. "If that isn't the definition of a scumbag, I don't know what is.

"I hope that there is at least closure from this."

Wiggins said he still thinks about the unsolved murders.

"These two bother me," he said. "I still think about them from time to time."

Stutzman a suspect since 1987

It is unknown if police considered Stutzman a person of interest in 1985. But he certainly became a person of interest in 1987 after authorities learned that Little Boy Blue was Stutzman's son, and that Stutzman had lived in La Plata County days before Danny's death, and that Slaeter's murder was committed days before Stutzman left town.

While there wasn't enough evidence to order fingerprints from Stutzman, the Durango Police Department did receive a set from a prison in Huntsville, Texas, where he was incarcerated for the death of his roommate.

Unfortunately, the prints were illegible, Archuleta said, and police could not order a new set of prints or DNA samples without Stutzman's permission or a legal battle, and Stutzman wasn't willing to cooperate.

But when Stutzman died last month, Olsen, the author, contacted a Texas investigator to tell him that fingerprints and DNA samples obtained from Stutzman's body might help Durango solve its two murders, Archuleta said. The investigator obtained the samples from a coroner and planned to send them to Durango.

"We have requested that information," Archuleta said. "We haven't received it yet from Texas. `85 It's a cold case, but we've been trying to work it through the years."

Once police receive the samples, perhaps as soon as next week, investigators will compare them with evidence collected from the 1985 crime scenes and then possibly ship the samples and evidence to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for further analysis.

Durango police hold the key

In an interview last week, Olsen expressed disappointment that the Durango Police Department has not done more to prove or disprove Stutzman's involvement in the 1985 murders.

By 1987 police knew Stutzman was a potential suspect, he said. But they never formally requested fingerprints while Stutzman was in custody in Nebraska. "For some reason, they just didn't work this case, either one of those cases," Olsen said. "And maybe they have quietly and closed them, but I'm not hearing that."

The world will never know for sure whether Stutzman killed his wife and son, Olsen said. "But you guys have something there," he said.

"I've always felt that Durango police hold the key to showing whether or not this man is a serial killer."

 
 

Long trail of mystery and bodies ends in Fort Worth

February 25, 2007

By Deanna Boyd - Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH -- Charles Turner just wanted to help send his friend back home.

Eli Stutzman had been found dead the day before inside his west Fort Worth apartment from an apparent suicide.

But finding relatives of his 56-year-old friend wouldn't be easy, Turner knew. Stutzman had been raised Amish in a small community in Ohio and had been somewhat estranged from his family.

Flipping through an old Amish periodical that Stutzman had recently given him, Turner came across a notice on Page 91 for the "29th Annual Buggy Makers Get Together." It included the names and telephone numbers of three contacts. Turner made the calls.

That afternoon, Mahlon Miller returned the call to Turner.

"I asked him did he know how I could contact the family of Eli Stutzman," Turner said.

Which Eli Stutzman? "Is this Little Boy Blue's father?" Miller asked.

The unusual question stumped Turner, but the story the man told him next stunned him.

Eli Stutzman was a murderer, Miller said. He'd served time in prison for killing his roommate. Several people, including members of his own family, believe he is behind the 1977 death of his pregnant wife, as well as that of his 9-year-old son, Daniel, whose body was found in a small Nebraska town eight years later. Stutzman, it turns out, was also a suspect in two unsolved murders in Durango, Colo.

Turner had known Stutzman to be a kind, soft-spoken friend who loved animals and made and sold leather goods from his home. Was it possible his docile friend concealed a history of violence? Had he really known his friend at all?

"I was trying to send him back to his people," Turner said. "I didn't want him to be buried here in a pauper's grave, but then all this began to unravel."

A grisly discovery

Christmas Eve 1985 was a slow day at work for Chuck Kleveland, a wholesale petroleum dealer. Deciding it was time for a haircut, Kleveland first stopped by his home in Chester, Neb., to pick up his shotgun in case he spotted any pheasant on his drive to nearby Hebron.

Traveling on a dirt road, his eyes scanning the horizon for pheasants, Kleveland spotted a small ravine overgrown with tall weeds.

"I drove by slow and noticed something very blue in there," Kleveland said. "I thought, that's strange. I stopped and backed up and I looked again and I could see something blue over there. Something wasn't right."

Kleveland put his pickup in park, got out and walked over to the edge of the ravine.

"I thought someone was playing a terrible joke," he said. "It looked like a mannequin from a store or a big, baby doll laying in the weeds. I looked a little closer. Then it hit me: This was a child."

Kleveland ran back to his truck, called his office on his radio and told employees to summon Thayer County Sheriff Gary Young.

Daniel Werner, Thayer County attorney, had stopped by to chat with Young when the sheriff told him that a pajama-clad body had been found in a ditch. It was cold; the low that day was 9 degrees.

At the scene, sheriff's deputies blocked off the road a mile in each direction and state patrol investigators arrived to begin videotaping the crime scene.

Young saw no obvious blunt trauma on the child's body except post-death bite marks on his face from rodents.

"The body had marks on the neck. I suspected strangulation, but it turned out that was from the freezing," Young said.

The doctor who performed the autopsy could provide no cause of death, only speculation that the boy may have died from Reye's syndrome, a rare but deadly disease that has been associated with aspirin being given to children or young teens.

Law enforcement officials didn't buy it.

"I thought there was something more to it," Young said.

Werner had the autopsy reviewed by forensic pathologists, including a doctor well-known for his work in identifying hypothermia. But the doctors also couldn't determine the boy's cause of death.

Still convinced the case was a homicide, authorities continued their investigation.

"It was a very suspicious death," Werner said. "Obviously he didn't walk there."

After leaving the scene, Kleveland returned home. He walked inside, past his wife, and without a word went directly to the bedroom of their youngest son, David.

"I wanted to make sure my kids were there," Kleveland said. "It scared this whole town. There wasn't a kid who would go out by himself for a long time. It was a mystery. ... There are people who slept with shotguns by their bed."

Little Boy Blue

As mysterious as the boy's cause of death was his identity.

No one appeared to be missing the young boy. Authorities distributed sketches and enhanced photographs of the boy throughout the country and enlisted the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Kleveland took to calling the boy "Little Boy Blue" because of his blue pajamas.

"There was no name or nothing else to call him," Kleveland said.

The nickname stuck as the story became national news.

When it became clear no one was going to claim the body, residents of Chester and surrounding areas decided to adopt the boy as their own.

One woman donated a cemetery plot. Others provided a suit for the boy to be buried in, the flowers, the coffin and headstone.

Pastor Jean Samuelson delivered a memorable sermon to the crowd of more than 500 mourners who packed the United Methodist Church in Chester.

"She talked about how we can't lose the children. ... It was a beautiful sermon," said Kathy Kleveland, Chuck's wife.

In a cemetery, not far from the graves of Chuck Kleveland's parents, Little Boy Blue was buried under the name Matthew -- meaning Gift of God. His marker read:

Little Boy

Abandoned

Found Near

Chester, Neb.

Dec. 24, 1985.

At the bottom, space was left with the hopes that one day the boy's real identity could be added.

It would be a two-year wait.

After an article about the case appeared in Reader's Digest in December 1987, Young received a letter from a Wyoming couple who feared the body might be that of Daniel Stutzman, a friend's son they had taken care of for several months in 1985.

"The letter that I got had a photograph. It was taken the day that Eli picked Danny up in Wyoming," Young recalled.

Palm prints taken from Daniel's report card envelope confirmed it was true. Little Boy Blue finally had a name.

Strange past

As authorities delved into Stutzman's past, a disturbing picture surfaced. Family members told of how Ida, his pregnant wife, had died in a suspicious barn fire in 1977 near Dalton, Ohio. Before the fire, Stutzman had reportedly changed the couple's bank account to his name. That, coupled with the various stories he told about why Ida had gone into the burning barn, left many in the Amish community suspecting he was responsible for her death.

But the Amish, who are private people, did not share their suspicions with law enforcement.

"Eli hid behind his clothes a lot," said Daniel Stutzman, Stutzman's cousin.

Werner reviewed Ida's death certificate.

"It simply said 'heart stopped,'" Werner said. "It was apparent she died in a fire, so I thought that quite unusual."

Authorities heard stories about how Stutzman later abandoned his family and Amish upbringing, hitting the road with his son. They learned Stutzman was gay. They discovered that he and his son had disappeared from Austin after Stutzman was questioned about the fatal shooting of Glen Pritchett, a roommate and employee who was found dead in a ditch in May 1985 in southeast Travis County.

"By this time we already know about Ida, his wife. We know about Pritchett. We know about his sexual orientation," Young said. "There are just so many things that led me to believe that he had to get rid of that boy. ... Danny was a millstone around his neck. Danny didn't fit into Eli's lifestyle."

Adding to the suspicions were the various stories Stutzman gave to explain away his son's sudden disappearance.

When he arrived in Ohio in Christmas 1985 without Daniel, Stutzman told his family that the boy was on a skiing trip.

He told the Wyoming couple that his son had been enrolled in school in Ohio. And later he wrote the boy's maternal grandparents that Daniel had died in a car wreck in Utah in July 1986.

Fascinated by the case, journalist Gregg Olsen embarked on writing a true-crime book. Abandoned Prayers, released in 1990 and again in 2003, told of Olsen's belief of Stutzman's involvement in deaths of his pregnant wife and son.

"It's that kind of story that people just can't believe and they want to know more," Olsen said. "They want to know more about this gentle Amish person that went berserk."

In custody

In December 1987, the law caught up to Stutzman. After receiving a tip that he was living in a trailer in Azle, officers staked out the area and arrested him on a felony child abuse warrant in connection with his son's death. Law enforcement officials speculated that Stutzman may have come to Azle because he had friends in the area.

Young flew to Tarrant County along with Jack Wyant, a Nebraska state patrol investigator, and attempted to interview Stutzman at the Tarrant County Jail. Stutzman refused to cooperate but did not fight extradition back to Nebraska.

"A very meek mouse," Young recalled of his impression of Stutzman. "The first thing he asked for when we got him in jail in Nebraska was Grecian Formula. He wanted to keep his hair nice. ... He was a weird dude."

With no confession that he'd harmed Daniel and no cause of death ever determined, the murder charge never materialized.

"I suspected it, but I simply did not have the facts to back that up," Werner said.

Instead, Stutzman pleaded guilty on Jan. 11, 1988, to two misdemeanor charges of unlawful disposal of a dead human body and concealing the death.

At his sentencing hearing, Stutzman took the stand and told in his own words what had happened to Daniel.

He said he tried to wake his sleeping son to give him medication for an upper respiratory infection but found the boy lifeless.

Before putting Daniel's body in a ditch and covering it with snow, Stutzman said he prayed for several hours. He said he did not report the death because he feared his family would blame him for not taking proper care of the boy.

Under cross-examination, Werner asked Stutzman why he didn't seek help immediately upon finding Daniel unresponsive.

"That's what I keep ... still keep asking myself today," Stutzman answered. "I wish now I would have."

During the hearing, William Gallup, Stutzman's defense attorney, read aloud a letter from one of the reviewing pathologists that said the doctor could find no evidence to support that Daniel's death was due to an injury. The doctor wrote that he favored the notion that the child had died a natural death.

Gallup said last week that he was surprised by the theories and suspicions hurled at Stutzman.

"I remember from Day One he was accused essentially of murdering this child. That was the position the sheriff out there took and the prosecutor," Gallup said. "I've never understood where that came from. There wasn't any evidence to support that at all."

The presiding judge sentenced Stutzman to 18 months in jail.

"I really wasn't happy with it, but there's not much you can do," Young said.

But Stutzman's legal problems were far from over.

Convicted of murder

After serving his sentence in Nebraska, he was transported to Austin, where he was put on trial for the death of Pritchett, his former roommate.

Pritchett, who had worked for Stutzman's remodeling business, was found in a ditch in May 1985 in southeast Travis County. He'd been shot once in the head.

Questioned by deputies, Stutzman said he had not seen Pritchett for two months and believed he had returned to Montana to be with family. Soon after, he and his son moved from Austin.

"He was definitely a person of interest," recalled Gary Cutler, a Travis County homicide detective who now works with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. "Obviously when he fled, that even threw more suspicion on him. We just didn't have enough at the time to hold him."

But after learning from Nebraska authorities about Stutzman's son, investigators reopened the case and gathered enough evidence to obtain an arrest warrant for Stutzman.

A jury found Stutzman guilty of murder, and on July 31, 1989, an Austin judge sentenced Stutzman to 40 years in prison, providing a sense of justice for authorities and residents in Chester.

While in prison, Stutzman occasionally wrote letters to his family, printing Scripture on one side and updates on his life on the other. Occasionally, family members visited him.

"It was always the hope that he might confess," said Daniel Stutzman, his cousin. "We didn't want to lose contact because writing him and still letting him know you loved him and keeping in touch was the only hope."

Stutzman would serve less than 13 years before being paroled under mandatory supervision.

Released in March 2002, he decided to make Fort Worth his new home.

A secret life

At the Courtyard on Calmont apartments in west Fort Worth, Stutzman lived out his remaining years quietly.

From his small, one-bedroom apartment, Stutzman made and sold leather goods -- including purses and Bible covers -- a skill he'd picked up in prison. He loved country music, his dog Sport, taming horses and French vanilla ice cream.

He also abused crack cocaine, friends say.

"He didn't hide it from nobody," said 61-year-old neighbor Bertha Ramon, who often had coffee with Stutzman.

But what his friends and neighbors didn't learn about until after his death was that Stutzman was also a masterful storyteller when it came to his past.

He told Turner he had served time in prison because of drugs. To a handful of others, he admitted that it was for murder but insisted he was innocent. He told several he had never been married and had no children, yet confided in Turner that he was a widower who left his infant son behind with his Amish family because he was gay.

"He said he had visited the son -- I believe last year -- when he went to the community and that his son had forgiven him for leaving and everything and the visit went well," Turner said. "He was really happy that they had bonded, and I felt really good for him."

Several had noticed changes in Stutzman in the past few months. He rarely ventured out from his apartment. Those who stopped by noticed that many of his possessions -- including his computer -- were gone from the apartment. He had frequent visitors at all hours.

"It got to the point that every prostitute and druggie was at his apartment," said Gina Robinson, property manager of the complex. "I was having to come out here all hours of the night. He had more traffic than the freeway."

When his rent check bounced in January, Robinson gave Stutzman a three-day notice to vacate the premises. Stutzman told Robinson that someone had stolen his checks and drained his bank account but promised he would get her the money.

In reality, Stutzman was already preparing to leave.

When asked about his increasingly sparse apartment, Stutzman explained that he was going to visit his dying father.

"He had told us because of vandalism, he wanted his things taken out of his apartment," Turner said. "He put some things in storage, some things he pawned and some of his things, like his most precious belongings, he gave away to his good friends."

To Turner, Stutzman bequeathed the videotape of his favorite movie, The Black Stallion Returns, and a ship he'd made while in prison out of scrap wood and prison linens.

He also gave Turner a green, hardcover book about the history of his family's Amish roots.

Turner accepted the gifts, never imagining that his friend was preparing to take his own life.

"It's so obvious. I just sometimes want to kick myself," Turner said.

Questionable death?

About 4 p.m. on Jan. 31, a friend, Michael D'Archangel, discovered Stutzman after getting no reply at his apartment door and walking inside.

"I found him kind of peaceful on the couch," D'Archangel said. "He had his comforter all the way up to his neck. I saw him arms over the comforter. It looked like he had dipped his hands in iodine."

The medical examiner's office ruled Stutzman's death a suicide caused by a sharp force injury of his left arm that cut a vein. Toxicology tests found Stutzman had cocaine in his system.

Several neighbors can't accept that Stutzman would take his own life.

"I don't believe it at all. There is no way that he would commit suicide. The time I've known this man, he was not the type of person to do that," Robinson said.

Ramon, Robinson's mother, agrees. She said in the days before his death, Stutzman told her he had found a new apartment.

"He was planning to move. He got killed, that's what I say," Ramon said. "He got murdered."

Ramon points to the blood found in Stutzman's bathroom and on the hallway wall as evidence he struggled with his killer.

Fort Worth homicide Sgt. J.D. Thornton said the autopsy and evidence at the scene all indicate that the wound was self-inflicted.

"According to what the doctor told us, the wound itself would not have caused immediate unconsciousness, and it could have been several minutes before he was incapacitated," Thornton said. "He would have had time to move around the apartment. Evidence there suggested that he did. It appears that he then lay down on the couch, covered himself with a blanket and watched television until he died."

A secret past revealed

The secrets that Stutzman had kept bubbled to the surface after his death.

"It's way shocking," said Tim Garner, who took in Stutzman's dog, Sport, after his death. He describes the apartment complex as "a little Peyton Place."

"How could something of this magnitude go like it has, undetected?" Garner wondered.

Some, like Turner, felt betrayed.

"That Friday after I Googled his name and saw these things, I felt like it was a person that was completely unknown to me -- that the Eli I knew never truly existed. That he was a monster instead," Turner said. "Nobody over here had any clue that there was a monster in their midst."

Others, like Robinson, felt frightened.

"If somebody can kill somebody one time, I don't believe you can change like that. If you have it in you, you have it in you," Robinson said. "We thought he was a nice guy here, but when was he going to snap?"

In Nebraska, some wondered whether Eli's suicide was the result of pent-up guilt over what they believe he has done.

"Maybe he finally got a conscience," Young said.

He left no suicide note.

"It's going to be a mystery for life," Kleveland said.

Meanwhile, Stutzman's body remains unclaimed at the Tarrant County morgue. He will, it appears, be buried in a pauper's grave.

Daniel Stutzman said the family decided not to bring Stutzman's body back to Ohio because of the news media that would come with him.

"They said it would cause too many wounds," he said.

Still a suspect

Eli Stutzman, who died on Jan. 31, is a suspect in the deaths of two men in Durango, Colo. David Tyler, a 36-year-old man who was friends with Stutzman, was found dead Nov. 9, 1985, of a severe head injury in a trailer parked behind a transmission shop he owned and operated. Tyler's friend, 24-year-old Dennis Slaeter, was shot in the back during an apparent robbery Dec. 5, 1985, at a liquor store where he worked as a clerk. At the time of the slayings, Stutzman was living at a nearby ranch in Aztec, N.M., said Durango Sgt. Tony Archuleta. The Tarrant County medical examiner's office has sent Durango police Stutzman's fingerprints and DNA.

Durango Sgt. Rita Warfield said investigators plan to sift through the old case files to identify any evidence so the Colorado Bureau of Investigations can make comparisons with Stutzman's fingerprints and DNA. "Since Mr. Stutzman is deceased, although it would be great if we could solve these two cases for the families, there's not a lot we can do until we get the results back," Warfield said.

Even if the evidence is tied to Stutzman, Warfield said it may not tell investigators definitively that he was responsible. "If it's something we can tie him into being there, that would be great. But the man's dead now. We may never know. Even if his prints are found there, that doesn't mean there wasn't a second person. He'll have to be accountable to a much higher authority than us," she said.

Gregg Olsen, who wrote a true-crime book about Stutzman, said he is hopeful that Stutzman prints will match a print found in connection with one of the murders. "There's a lot of people who say he never really killed anybody," Olsen said. "I just think his print at the scene of another dead person is irrefutable proof that he isn't the most unluckiest person in the world. He's a killer."

-- Deanna Boyd

 
 

Wayne native's DNA could solve old deaths

Following his suicide, police try to determine if man was serial killer

Feb. 19, 2007

By Rick Armon - Beacon Journal

Mystery followed Eli Stutzman.

In life and now even in death.

The charismatic Wayne County killer from Dalton -- infamous for being the father of ``Little Boy Blue,'' a child found frozen along a Nebraska road more than 20 years ago -- died in his Fort Worth, Texas, apartment last month.

The 56-year-old sliced open his left arm and bled to death, the Tarrant County medical examiner ruled.

There was no suicide note.

Now those who have followed his ignominious life, chronicled in newspapers as early as 1977 with the death of his Amish farm wife and in the 1990 true-crime book Abandoned Prayers, are wondering if the truth about the many mysteries and tragedies surrounding the homosexual Amish-born man will ever be fully revealed.

The main question is whether Stutzman, who was convicted of murdering his roommate in Texas, was a serial killer. Did he also kill his wife, Ida, and son Danny, as some authorities have suspected -- or were their deaths accidental and natural, as he claimed? And did he kill two men in Durango, Colo., in 1985?

The answers about his wife and son may die with him.

But Durango police have requested fingerprints and DNA from his corpse to see if he's responsible for two unsolved murders in their community.

"I'm very interested in the outcome of the Colorado cases and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the authorities there do the right thing and wrap them up,'' said Gregg Olsen, author of Abandoned Prayers. ``I've been pushing for this for 20 years and finally, some action. Closing the books on David Tyler and Dennis Slaeter's murders would mean the world to me. The system totally failed us on Danny and Ida's deaths.''

Ida's death

Ida A. Stutzman died at the age of 26 in an early morning barn fire at the Stutzmans' Moser Road farm in Dalton.

Her husband found her overcome in the milk house, rescued her and tried to revive her, according to a July 12, 1977, story in the Beacon Journal. But it was too late and she was dead on arrival at Dunlap Memorial Hospital.

Ida was eight months pregnant at the time.

Olsen contends that authorities -- particularly the coroner at the time -- botched the investigation, choosing to believe everything Stutzman said instead of conducting a thorough probe.

"The truth is that if she was not Amish, there would have been a real investigation,'' Olsen said.

"Stutzman was the consummate liar,'' he added. ``His gentle facade made it easy for those to fall for him -- the tortured former Amishman, no one could understand what he'd been through. He played on their sympathies and lied right to their faces.''

Wayne County Sheriff's Capt. Douglas Hunter, who started with the department four years after the fire, said the case has been long forgotten.

Olsen said Stutzman, who was gay and having relationships with men, wanted his wife out of the way. After she was dead, he began placing classified ads in the Advocate, a gay magazine, to seek companionship.

"There was no way out of the Amish. No divorce,'' Olsen said. ``The Amish kept trying to help him with his mental problems (as they saw it) and he knew that he'd never be rid of their good intentions as long as he was tied to Ida. Killing her was his way out. No doubt about that.''

He sold his farm in 1982 and moved with Danny to Ignacio, Colo., where, neighbors said at the time, he planned to get involved in cattle ranching.

He told a friend from Akron that he was leaving because of pressure from the Amish to return to his faith.

National news

Gas station owner Chuck Kleveland was driving down U.S. 81 near Chester, Neb., on Christmas Eve in 1985 when his eye caught a flash of blue in the snow.

He stopped and discovered the frozen body of a little boy wearing only blue pajamas. No one knew who he was.

Horrified by the death, the town of Chester adopted him, named him Matthew and built a shrine to -- as he would be called -- Little Boy Blue. For two years, his identity remained a mystery, until a woman reading a Reader's Digest story about the case recognized the picture of the boy.

It was Danny Stutzman, Eli's son.

Authorities were convinced that Stutzman killed Danny. But there were no signs of foul play.

Stutzman was charged with felony child abuse.

He would speak publicly about the case only once -- in a Nebraska courtroom.

Stutzman said that while driving from Wyoming, where Danny had been staying with foster parents, to Ohio, he found the boy dead in the vehicle, his eyes rolled back in his head and his complexion white. Danny wasn't breathing and had no pulse, he said, adding that the boy had developed a respiratory illness while in Wyoming.

"I had difficulty facing the fact that he had died,'' Stutzman said. "I couldn't understand. I couldn't figure out why.''

He said he tried to revive his son and then he spent several hours with the boy's body along the roadside and prayed for him. Then he put Danny's body in a ditch and covered it with snow.

"I decided to leave him and let God take care of him,'' Stutzman said.

When asked why he didn't seek help or alert authorities, he responded: ``That's what I still keep asking myself today. I could not figure out what happened. I wish now I would have.''

Stutzman was convicted on misdemeanor charges of abandoning a body and concealing the death of another person and sentenced to 18 months in prison in 1988.

The next year, he was convicted in the 1985 shooting death of his roommate Glen Albert Pritchett, 24, whose body was found in a ditch in rural Travis County, Texas. Pritchett worked for Stutzman's construction company and lived in the same house with Stutzman and his son.

He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but was paroled in 2002.

Author Olsen, who also maintains the Web site www.crimerant.com, believes Stutzman killed Danny because the boy knew too much.

"Danny was 9. He knew full well that his father was on the run for the murder of Glen Pritchett in Austin,'' Olsen said. ``Police there theorized that Danny was, in fact, a witness to the homicide. Furthermore, he'd been around his father's drug use and promiscuity (and) there was no way Eli could return him to the Amish. He had to get rid of him.''

Cold case

The same year that Stutzman killed Pritchett and dumped his son's body in Nebraska, David Tyler and Dennis Slaeter were killed one month apart in Durango, Colo.

Tyler, 36, was the part owner of an auto mechanic shop and his body was found in an open utility trailer near the business. He died of a severe head injury.

Slaeter, 24, was shot in the back during a robbery at a liquor store, where he was working as a clerk.

Stutzman knew both of them, said Sgt. Anthony Archuleta of the Durango Police Department. But he declined to elaborate or say why police believe Stutzman could be the killer.

"We hope this might be what we have needed to have some closure for these families,'' he said, referring to the request for fingerprints and DNA.

The end

The Tarrant County medical examiner still has Stutzman's body.

His family in Ohio doesn't want to claim it, Dr. Roger Metcalf said, so he will likely be cremated.

Stutzman spent the last years of his life with HIV living in Fort Worth. He had both money and drug problems, said Olsen, who questions whether Stutzman would commit suicide.

"I'm not so sure he did,'' he said. "Stutzman was a runner. I know he was in trouble with drugs again and he owed money. But I see him as the kind of guy who would pack up and leave, rather than kill himself. I guess we'll never know.''

 
 

Eli Stutzman found dead in Texas apartment

February 6, 2007

By Christine L. Pratt - Staff Writer

WOOSTER -- Little Boy Blue's father is dead.

Eli Stutzman, 56, was found dead in his Ft. Worth, Texas, apartment on Wednesday afternoon. The Tarrant County (Texas) Medical Examiner's Office ruled Stutzman's death a suicide, the cause of which was a sharp force injury to the left arm.

The former Wayne County man is not only suspected of killing and abandoning his 9-year-old son in Nebraska and starting the barn fire that claimed the life of his wife, but was convicted in the 1985 Texas murder of a former roommate.

Emergency personnel went to Stutzman's apartment on Wednesday afternoon after a neighbor reported Stutzman had not been seen in a while, said Lt. Dean Sullivan of the Ft. Worth Police Department.

Sullivan, on Friday, said there were no signs of foul play, and a dog found inside the apartment was released to animal control.

Other than a 2005 report listing Stutzman as the victim of a suspected financial crime, he said, the department had no record of incidents involving the convicted killer.

Stutzman's life was made public by a series of events, including the 1990 release of the book "Abandoned Prayers: The Shocking True Story of Obsession, Murder and 'Little Boy Blue.'"

In the book, author Gregg Olsen recounted the July 1977 barn fire near Dalton that claimed the life of Stutzman's pregnant wife, Ida.

Former Wayne County Sheriff's Capt. James Gasser said, "We all have our theories," but would not comment on whether he was convinced Stutzman was responsible for Ida Stutzman's death.

On hearing of Stutzman's death, Gasser said, "He didn't serve a purpose any more," noting with his death, there was no more need to speculate, and "something like that, it's just best to let it lay."

Olsen's book also details the Christmas Eve 1985 discovery of the frozen corpse of a boy, later identified as Danny Stutzman. With no evidence he was responsible for his son's death, Eli Stutzman was convicted of abandoning a body and concealing a death, for which he was sentenced to one year in prison.

Stutzman was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing Glen Pritchett in Texas. He was released from prison in 2002, according to Olsen.

Olsen's book delves into Stutzman's involvement with countless gay men, whom he reportedly met through advertisements and at sex parties across the United States.

Olsen, contacted at his Washington home on Monday, was not as quick to put the case -- with which he admits to being "obsessed" -- behind him.

Olsen said he is convinced Stutzman killed his wife, his son, Pritchett and two men in Oklahoma.

He said he learned of Stutzman's death after getting e-mails from some of Stutzman's friends in Texas "who had just found out for the first time he was Little Boy Blue's dad."

"They found me by Googling his name," said Olsen, who has since had several insightful conversations with Stutzman's friends and his most recent lover, and "No one had a clue."

He said Stutzman's death "would close any opportunity to find out what happened to Ida, Danny and those other men."

"I've been obsessed with (Stutzman) since I wrote the book," said Olsen. "I feel bad he never confessed or told the truth to anyone.

"Now nothing's going to happen. Now we have four deaths that would never see resolution, unless, of course he left anything behind," said Olsen, adding he is working with several people in Texas, collecting information and photos detailing Stutzman's last days, which he intends to post online at crimerant.com.

"I haven't given up he might have left something behind," he said, noting any evidence of a possible written confession will be shared with The Daily Record and residents of Wayne County.

"There are so many people there who wanted me to solve this crime (of Ida Stutzman's death), and I feel like we're really just let down again.

"I'm surprised he would kill himself. I always knew we'd hear of him again, but thought it would be because he'd killed someone. The idea of suicide doesn't fit ... maybe he couldn't live with himself any more," Olsen said.

Olsen continues to harbor hostilities against Wayne County investigators, who, he said, listened to Stutzman and initially ruled the fatal fire was an accident.

Then-coroner Dr. J.T. Questel "really let Ida down," Olsen said. "She deserved a full investigation. It makes me really angry."

Olsen maintains had Stutzman been convicted of killing his wife, he would not have had the opportunity to kill others.

Questel declined Monday's call for comment.

 
 

'Little Boy Blue' remains in town's heart

February 7, 2007

By Elizabeth Ahlin - World-Herald

More than 20 years after the body of "Little Boy Blue" was found, frozen and alone, in a Nebraska farm field, the small community of Chester still pays tribute to its adopted son.

It would be two years before anybody knew his identity, but the town named him, buried him and mourned him as if he were one of its own.

Now Danny's father, Eli Stutzman, has died, and the townspeople may never know exactly what happened to the boy.

Stutzman, 56, was found dead Jan. 31 in his apartment in Fort Worth, Texas. His death has been ruled a suicide.

Stutzman died from "sharp force injury" to his left arm, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner in Texas.

Danny Stutzman came into the lives of people in Chester when a flash of blue caught the eye of Chuck Kleveland as he drove down U.S. Highway 81.

What he found was the body of a lifeless 9-year-old boy, wearing nothing but a blue sleeper.

For the next two years, Danny was Little Boy Blue because his clothing was all that was known about him.

Despite strong local and national interest in the case, it wasn't until November 1987 that he was identified, after a woman recognized a sketch of the boy in Reader's Digest.

Eli Stutzman claimed that the boy died in the back of his car during a trip from Wyoming to Ohio.

When he realized that Danny was dead, Stutzman said, he tried to revive him. Eventually, he gave up, laying Danny down in a Nebraska field and continuing on to Ohio.

Local law officers were suspicious of his story. Many continue to believe Stutzman was involved in his son's death, but an autopsy did not show any signs of foul play.

Stutzman was arrested and charged with felony child abuse. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of abandoning a body and concealing a death. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Danny's mother, Ida Stutzman, died in a barn fire in July 1977 at age 26.

In 1988, Stutzman was extradited to Texas, where he was convicted of the shooting death of his roommate, Glen Albert Pritchett. Stutzman was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but he was paroled in 2002.

Many who knew Stutzman in Fort Worth were unaware of his past.

Gina Robinson, who described herself as a friend of Stutzman's and his apartment manager, said she was shocked when she heard about his son Danny.

Robinson liked Stutzman - she found him friendly and kind. Even so, she was concerned about the people who frequented his apartment.

After his most recent rent check was returned by the bank, she told him to leave. A few days later, he was dead.

Those connected with Danny's case are curious about the life that Stutzman led, but they don't want to see the emphasis shift away from Danny.

His gravesite and memorial are evidence of their continued devotion to Little Boy Blue.

"There's still people stopping up there and leaving toys and stuff," Kleveland said.

Just over a year ago, Thayer County Attorney Daniel Werner, who prosecuted Stutzman, said Danny's case was still open, but now it's considered closed.

Both Werner and Gary Young, former Thayer County sheriff, expressed frustration that they may never know the true story.

But the town of Chester will keep the memory of Danny alive, Werner said.

"Legally, yes, the case is closed, but people remember. As long as people remember, it won't be over."

 
 

Dad in 'Little Boy Blue' case dies

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Terry Oblander - Plain Dealer Reporter

Homicide detectives in Fort Worth, Texas, are investigating the Wednesday afternoon death of a former Ohio man who gained notoriety after his 9-year-old son was frozen to death in a Nebraska highway ditch.

The Tarrant County medical examiner's office has conducted an autopsy on Eli Stutzman, 56, whose body was found in his Fort Worth apartment. A friend found Stutzman's body on the floor of his home with a deep knife wound to one arm.

It was more than two decades ago that Stutzman's son was found in the Nebraska ditch.

The residents of Chester, Neb., called him "Little Boy Blue" because of the blue footed pajamas he was wearing when his frozen body was found Christmas Eve 1985.

It would be nearly two years until a Reader's Digest story led to the revelation that the boy was Danny Stutzman, the son of a gay Amish man from the Apple Creek area of Wayne County.

Stutzman pleaded guilty in 1988 and was sentenced to 18 months in jail on charges of abandoning a body and failing to report a death.

A year later, Stutzman was convicted in Austin, Texas, in the murder of his roommate, Glen Albert Pritchett, who had lived with Stutzman and Danny. Stutzman murdered Pritchett in May 1985.

Stutzman, who suffered from AIDS, was released after serving 13 years of a 40-year prison sentence. Fort Worth Detective Matt Hardy said Stutzman violated his parole in 2003 and was returned to prison for a short time.

 
 

Boy's death mystified, defined Chester's 'big heart'

Saturday, Dec 24, 2005

Twenty years after the town of Chester rallied behind “Little Boy Blue,” residents reflect on the child’s death.

By Gwen TIETGEN / Lincoln Journal Star

CHESTER — The generation that would have been Danny Stutzman’s has grown up without him. Case still a mystery He didn’t graduate from high school, go to college, marry or have a family. Danny’s 9-year-old body was found in a ditch near Chester on Christmas Eve 1985.

No one knew him or his name until two years later.

But this community came to love him anyway, and in turn, he defined them.

A community that wept at his funeral, that buried him under the name Matthew, a name that means “gift of God,” and referred to him as “Little Boy Blue,” because of the blue pajamas he was wearing when found.

“The church was completely packed and nobody had any idea who this child was,” said Thayer County Attorney Daniel Werner.

The town still cares for his gravesite in its roadside cemetery. People still lay toys, cars and coins on his grave. The community built a roadside memorial for him, then rebuilt it after a tornado.

And it bears the logo, “A small town with a big heart.”

Twenty years later, author Gregg Olsen has written a book, “Abandoned Prayers,” about the boy. National and local media have printed the story time and again.

Although much of the media attention has fizzled and talk has waned, the memories haven’t.

“We have people stop in all the time wanting to know where he’s buried,” said Gail Wendover, a waitress at Foote Cafe in Chester.

A roadside memorial is located just up the road, to the left of Foote’s Cafe. The cemetery is on the right side of U.S. 81.

“I always recommend the book. It’s graphic, but it’s the truth,” Wendover said.

Wendover moved to Chester in June 1985 and remembers the community’s shock.

“It was sad. But everybody pulled together and named him because they didn’t know who he was,” she said.

The case remains open. The autopsy revealed no medical finding about his death, Werner said.

“Do I wonder? Ya, obviously. I’m the kind of guy that’s suspicious that more happened than we will ever know,” he said. “But being suspicious and being able to prove it in a criminal court beyond a reasonable doubt are two different things.”

“I never really believed that Danny died naturally, but I’ve never been able to prove he died otherwise.”

Charles Kleveland, the gas station owner who found Danny’s body that night, said people haven’t forgotten. He repeats what he has said for years, “The only person who knows what really happened is Eli.”

Said Werner: “It’s the kind of thing that never goes away. The child was found, abandoned in that kind of condition. It tugs on your heartstrings.”

Former Thayer County Sheriff Gary Young said pleas for information yielded tons of tips, from across the United States, Alaska and overseas, but nothing solid. Young, who lives in Hot Springs Village, Ark., retired in September 2001.

After a tip identified Stutzman, authorities discovered Danny was raised Amish. A Reader’s Digest article two years later lead authorities to the boy’s father, Eli Stutzman.

Young said he remembered the panic the community felt, wondering if some sick killer would hurt one of their children.

“The case never really got solved. I won’t put any blame on anybody. It’s just one of those things. We didn’t get a good, conclusive autopsy,” he said. “I really think there was more to it than what we know.”

Said Young: “I just have it in my gut that there’s something we didn’t get.”

In statements then, Eli Stutzman said he was scared after he found his son dead in the back of his vehicle. Danny had reportedly developed a respiratory problem.

“Back then, I said, we didn’t get him, but maybe God will,” Young said.

Eli Stutzman was released from prison in March 2002 after serving time for killing a roommate in 1985 in Travis County, Texas, months before Danny’s death. He was convicted in 1989.

Reached at his Fort Worth, Texas, home, Eli Stutzman said he had no comment.

 
 

Case still a mystery

By Gwen TIETGEN / Lincoln Journal Star

Friday, Dec 23, 2005

Gregg Olsen spent two years retracing Eli Stutzman’s footsteps prior to and after Danny Stutzman’s death for the book, “Abandoned Prayers: An Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession and Amish Secrets.”

He made several trips to Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming and Ohio, all places Stutzman set foot before and after he abandoned his son’s 9-year-old body in a ditch near Chester.

Olsen, like Thayer County Attorney Dan Werner and former sheriff Gary Young, believe there’s more to Eli Stutzman’s story. The book might leave that impression. It talks of how Danny’s mother, Ida Stutzman, died in a suspicious barn fire while she was pregnant with a second child.

The Amish don’t believe in talking to law enforcement and didn’t question, but always suspected, foul play in Ida Stutzman’s death, Olsen said.

Afterward, Stutzman left the Amish community, his son in tow, and revealed he was gay.

He had gone to Texas and was later convicted of killing a roommate in the spring of 1985. He left the boy with a foster family in Wyoming for six months. He fetched him, saying they were going to Ohio’s Amish community for Christmas. Danny never made it there.

After dumping his body in Chester, Eli Stutzman visited a boyfriend in Mound Ridge, Kan., authorities said.

Eli Stutzman told Amish relatives Danny died in a car wreck in Utah. Relatives later found out the truth.

Olsen said he has a pile of letters Stutzman wrote to relatives, lying about Danny’s whereabouts.

“I have one letter where he was pretending to be Danny after he had been dead for four months,” Olsen said.

Stutzman said he found his son dead in his vehicle while the two were driving to Ohio from Wyoming. He had reportedly developed a respiratory condition and Stutzman, at the time, said he had become scared and discarded the body for God to take.

“It’s one story that doesn’t go away. He’ll always be ‘Little Boy Blue’ to everybody forever,” Olsen said.

The book, published in 1990 and re-released in 2003, became a New York Times Bestseller.

“It’s one of the all-time mysteries. I wish there was somebody in Thayer County that said we should take a look at this,” Olsen said Thursday. “Forensic science has changed in 20 years. Maybe they’d find something this time around.”

Reached at his Fort Worth, Texas home, Eli Stutzman, now 55, would not comment. He was released on parole in March 2002 from a 1989 murder conviction.

 
 

Suspected Killer Out Of Prison

Town remembers Little Boy Blue

Aug 18 2003

Longtime Nebraskans might remember the story of Little Boy Blue. The entire community of Chester grieved when the child's body, clad in blue pajamas, was found along the road. The person who many think killed the boy is now a free man.

Danny Stutzman's body turned up on a windswept county road, Christmas Eve of 1985.

Bev George of Chester has never forgotten that day.

"We took him as one of our own," she says.

The community gave little boy a funeral but it would be another two years before he was finally identified as Danny, the son of Eli Stutzman who was serving time in Texas for murdering a man.

Eli Stutzman had left an Amish community in Ohio where his wife, Little Boy Blue's mother, had died in a suspicious barn fire.

Eli was charged with abandoning his son's body in Chester but a former state patrol investigator who worked on the case believes Eli Stutzman is a multiple killer.

Jack Wyant, now with Wyant Investigations says, "You had his wife suspiciously dead. Danny of course; the killing down in Texas of his roommate."

Eighteen years after Little Boy Blue's lifeless body appeared along that Chester roadway, the people still remember; still leave toys at his gravesite.

That's why they're upset to learn from Channel 6 News that Texas officials have released Eli Stutzman from prison, granting him parole.

Leann Mumm of Chester says, "I think he should have gone to the death chair."

Bev George says, "I did not know until today that he was paroled. It's an interesting fact. I think a lot of people will be concerned about that."

"I think it's terrible," says JoAnn Eggers. "I just can't imagine why they'd let him loose after doing something like this."

Chester residents watch their own little ones growing up and still care deeply for the little boy who never had that chance.

According to the Texas Corrections Department, Eli Stutzman was paroled to the Fort Worth area last year but this is the first time people in Chester are hearing the news.

 
 

Man Sentenced in '85 Killing

August 2, 1989

A man who left his son's body along a Nebraska road four years ago has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 1985 murder of his roommate. Eli Stutzman, 38 years old, was convicted of killing Glen Albert Pritchett, 24, who lived with him and his 9-year-old son, Danny. After Mr. Pritchett's body was found, Mr.

A man who left his son's body along a Nebraska road four years ago has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 1985 murder of his roommate. Eli Stutzman, 38 years old, was convicted of killing Glen Albert Pritchett, 24, who lived with him and his 9-year-old son, Danny.

After Mr. Pritchett's body was found, Mr. Stutzman left Austin. His son's body, called ''Little Boy Blue'' because of blue pajamas, was later found in a Nebraska ditch and not identified for two years. Mr. Stutzman was arrested in 1987.

 
 

Plea in Concealing of Death

January 12, 1988

The father of a boy whose body was found in a ditch two years ago pleaded guilty today to misdemeanor charges of abandoning a body and concealing a death. The man, Eli Stutzman, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he entered the pleas in Thayer County Court. Mr. Stutzman testified that he and his 9-year-old son, Danny, were driving from Wyoming to Ohio on Route 81 in December 1985 when the boy died.

The father of a boy whose body was found in a ditch two years ago pleaded guilty today to misdemeanor charges of abandoning a body and concealing a death. The man, Eli Stutzman, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he entered the pleas in Thayer County Court. Mr. Stutzman testified that he and his 9-year-old son, Danny, were driving from Wyoming to Ohio on Route 81 in December 1985 when the boy died.

Mr. Stutzman said he was shocked and tried desperately to revive his son but finally left the body in a ditch near Chester. Danny's body was found on Dec. 24, 1985, but his identity was discovered only last month.

 
 

SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: Sex.

MO: Gay drifter; killed his wife, young son, and three men

DISPOSITION: 40 years on guilty plea to one count, in Tex.; HIV positive.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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