5 key details about unsolved Burger Chef murders in 1978

A newspaper clipping from Burger Chef murders (Image via Fox)
A newspaper clipping from Burger Chef murders (Image via Fox)

Murders at the Burger Joint is ready to dive into the terrifying case of an unsolved murder spree in Indiana, commonly known as the Burger Chef murders, something that shook the small community to the core back in 1978. The one-hour documentary will premiere on Discovery Plus and Investigation Discovery.

Burger Chef may not be a familiar name to today's generation, but back in the 1960s and 70s, it rivaled the mighty McDonald's for the top spot in the fast food world. The franchise disappeared over time, but its stories lived on for the infamous crime at Burger Chef in Speedway, Indiana. On November 17, 1978, four young workers—Jayne Friedt (20), Daniel Davis (16), Ruth Shelton(18), and Mark Flemmonds(16)—went missing. Soon, their dead bodies were found in a wooded area. The police's initial mishandling of evidence caused many complications, in this case, eventually leading to the murders remaining unsolved to this day.

Ahead of the documentary's premiere on September 5, 2022, here are five quick facts to acquaint viewers with the Burger Chef murders.


Five quick facts about the Burger Chef murders

1) The bodies of the four victims were found two days later

At first, it was believed that the disappearance was connected to petty theft. With the missing cash and the prospect of four youngsters in the burger joint, authorities allegedly assumed that they had run off with the money. This led to the police not exerting their full force in finding the four workers, Jayne Friedt, Daniel Davis, Ruth Shelton, and Mark Flemmonds.

Two days later, all four dead bodies were found beaten and shot to death near Center Grove High School in Johnson County.


2) The motive of the murder seemed to be robbery

Though a lot of conspiracy and other theories have surrounded the Burger Chef murders, the missing cash from the counter and Friedt's missing car indicated that the motive of the crime was probably robbery.

The primary theory put forth by investigators is that the four victims were kidnapped during an attempted robbery. Flemmonds was reportedly filling in for another employee that night. He must have recognized one of the culprits, according to investigators, which led to the group's abduction.


3) The police poorly handled the investigation resulting in the loss of useful evidence

One of the major reasons for the case's being unsolved was the negligence of the authorities. Going by their assumption that the four teenagers ran off with the money, investigators never treated the Burger Chef joint as a crime scene. As Burger Chef returned to its usual activity, any evidence that could have been found in the joint was lost.


4) Brian Kring, a fellow employee of Burger Chef was the first to reach the crime scene

Brian Kring, a fellow employee, and friend of the four deceased, took the night off to go out on a date. He was supposed to be in the joint that night. He came to close up late at night and found the entire joint empty and the cash locker open. He recalled:

"I walked in there and I didn’t see anybody, and pretty sure I checked the whole store, walk-in freezer and whatever, and nobody’s there...When I was walking around, I did walk into the manager’s office and I noticed that the safe is sitting wide open, cash drawers are laid out, and after that is when I called somebody and they told me to call the police."

5) Many theorized that drugs were a major reason behind the Burger Chef murders

Many theories have emerged over the years, linking the Burger Chef murders to drugs. The theory states that a drug dealer came to the store to collect their debt from one of the employees and, upon being recognized, shot them all. Kring also said something similar. He recalled:

"Oh, it was drugs...Somebody owed somebody. Either one of two people. Something that should have never happened and it was botched and I believe somebody recognized somebody or somebody tried to take whoever came in and they hurt that individual or whatever."

The upcoming documentary will cover the Burger Chef murders in detail when it airs on September 5, 2022.

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Edited by Babylona Bora