In April and May of 1992, a man killed six store clerks along Interstate 70: Robin Fuldauer in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 8; Patricia Magers and Patricia Smith in Wichita, Kansas on April 11; Michael “Mick” McCown in Terre Haute, Indiana on April 27; Nancy Kitzmiller in St. Charles, Missouri on May 3; and Sarah Blessing in Raytown, Missouri on May 7.
At each location, the murderer shot his victims, then quickly disappeared. Little money, if any, was stolen. No victim was sexually assaulted.
Two witnesses saw the killer, and ballistics linked the murders, but police never found the man the media dubbed the “I-70 Killer.”
The serial killer may have struck in Texas the next year. In September and November of 1993, similar quick-hit, highway-adjacent crimes occurred when two women were murdered in stores located in strip malls close to an interstate highway. In January 1994, another woman was shot in a shop, but survived. However, the ballistics didn’t match the previous murders.
In November 2001, a liquor store clerk was shot and killed in Terre Haute. The store was also along I-70. Security cameras captured the killer’s face, but authorities were not able to identify him.
In 2021, police from Indianapolis, Wichita, Terre Haute, St. Charles and Raytown formed a task force to reconsider the 1992 murders, as well as the potentially linked later killings. Bob Cyphers, a journalist at KMOV-TV in St. Louis who’d been covering the I-70 killer since 1992, was invited to follow this work. He spoke to A&E True Crime about his book, Dead End: Inside the Hunt for the I-70 Serial Killer.
What did you do with the I-70 Killer task force?
I sat with the task force for two or three days in St. Louis. I got to meet the detectives who were working the case. I tried to earn their trust and respect.
I went to all the crime scenes. I rounded up family members, friends, witnesses—anybody I could find in all these cities to come and talk. All these grieving people still came forward because they all want the exact same thing: [the killer to be identified].
Why did the task force form in 2021?
Captain Ray Floyd [of the St. Charles police] gets all the credit. DNA changing, where we now have touch DNA, [which is DNA transferred to an object through touch], certainly was a motivation for Ray.
I also think he wanted to figure out who the new go-to [investigators] were in all the different cities [because] old detectives are retiring. Bring the old and new people in, and have everybody in the same room one last time.
Back in 1992, how did police realize they were dealing with a serial killer?
The timeline is he kills in Indianapolis first. That’s a homicide scene. Then three days later, he’s driven  miles to kill in Wichita. Again, Wichita thinks they have their own homicide scene. A few days later, he kills in Terre Haute. Terre Haute and Indy being close to each other, they start calling around. They start checking ballistics. It’s the same gun at all three places. I think that is when police knew there was a serial killer going up and down Highway 70.
The FBI went through the profiling process twice. Do you know if anything changed when they did the second profile?
I don’t think so. It was just [in] that first run-through, nothing made sense. They really couldn’t come up with enough to help police.
This guy’s just driving along the highway, picking where he wants to get off and then walking in and shooting and killing somebody. It could have been anywhere along the highway. Once it gets to be that random, what are police investigating?
You wrote that both FBI profiles suggested the killer could be fulfilling a fantasy?
Larry Ankrom thought it was almost like a sexual thing [for the killer]. Larry would say, ‘He’s planned this in his mind. He knows what he’s going to do. He’s driving down the highway. He picks a spot, he finds a girl by herself. He kills her. And then, almost like a sexual event, it’s over. He has to go someplace and literally collapse.’
[Editor’s note: Authorities believe the I-70 killer may have initially thought his one male victim was a woman, either because Mick McCown was slightly built and had long hair, or because his store was named Sylvia’s, after his mother.]
The FBI also concluded that the killer had an emotional connection to his weapon?
That’s the guess. This gun, the Erma Werke, is a World War I [German] navy target pistol that barely worked 70 years ago. It’s not the kind of gun you take on a murder spree. The profiler thinks it was probably passed down through the family and was easy to access for him.
Police are hoping that maybe through the book, somebody says, ‘Hey, I bumped into a guy once that talked about that kind of gun.’
Do investigators think the Texas murderer from 1993 is the I-70 killer?
The police are split on this 50-50. Mike Crooke [from the Indianapolis Police Department], he’s gone to all the scenes, and he says, ‘It has to be him.’
[But] it’s not the same ballistics. I hate to say this, but I may be a little bit at fault in this.
When I was working the story in St. Charles, I became aware through a police source that they had this gun, the Erma Werke, and they had not released that to the public. I took a pretty strong stance that this was information the public needed to know. I wasn’t trying to impede the police investigation.
They finally did release it. Nobody came forward. The killings stopped. Then the Texas thing happens. And [some] police feel, if we didn’t release [that information to the public], and he kept [murdering], we’d have gathered more evidence, and we’d eventually have caught him.
Did the task force have any luck with touch DNA results?
As of right now, the DNA has been a dead end for everything they’ve tested. The shell casings are the next hope they have.
Are there any other leads at the moment?
There’s clean-as-can-be convenience store security camera tape [of the killer in Terre Haute in 2001]. But nobody could identify the man. Now they’ve had a few leads with some people who think they may have recognized who this person is.
What are your hopes for this book?
[The police] have never forgotten about this case. This was the most horrific case they’ve ever had in almost every city. Some of these detectives told me the one case they want solved before they go is this one. And that’s becoming more difficult now as time passes.
I wrote this book for the police departments to try to keep this story alive. [Maybe] something in this book can trigger one person to pick up the phone.
Anyone with information about the I-70 killer can call 1-800-800-3510.