Eyler was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, as the youngest of four children. His parents divorced while he was still young, which resulted in him having many stepfathers, who all teased and abused him. In his senior year, Eyler dropped out of high school and earned his GED years later. Unbeknownst to his friends and family, he struggled coping with homosexual tendencies, even going as far as to hate himself for being gay. Sporadic enrollment in college between 1974 and 1978 left Eyler without a degree, and he moved to Terre Haute that same year. There, Eyler stabbed a young man named Craig Long for no apparent reason. Long survived, and Eyler was subsequently arrested and pleaded guilty, being fined $43.
Murders, Arrest. and Death
Four years after stabbing Long, Eyler stabbed another man named Jay Reynolds, killing him. Nine months later, Eyler strangled a youth named Delvoyd Baker and dumped his body on the roadside north of Indianapolis. Days later, Eyler stabbed Steven Crockett several times. A month later, the body of Robert Foley was discovered, having been dumped outside of Joliet, Illinois. That same month, Eyler beat and attempted to kill Craig Townsend, but Townsend escaped before Eyler could finish the job. Townsend was subsequently hospitalized but fled from the hospital before police could investigate his case. Later on, the body of John Johnson was found in a field outside Belshaw, Indiana. Three days later, Eyler dumped the body of a double header named John Roach near Belleville. Another body was found shortly after. After murdering more victims, Eyler moved to Indianapolis in the summer of 1983 and became a member of a local gay community. Shortly after, people started to become suspicious of his behavior. Meanwhile, a gay newspaper called The Works set up a hotline and published a profile of the then-unidentified Eyler. At that point, Eyler had already murdered two other victims.
On September, 30, a police officer saw Eyler's truck parked on the side of Interstate 65 and two men moving towards the woods, one of them being bound. When the officer approached them, the captive man accused Eyler of making homosexual advances towards him. The officer investigated Eyler's truck, where he found surgical tape, nylon clothesline, and a bloodstained hunting knife, but Eyler wasn't arrested and the captive man was released. Days later, Eyler moved in with his secret lover, John Dobrovolskis, and his wife and children. Six more bodies were found days later. Eyler was considered the prime suspect in the murders, which shocked his family and resulted in his arrest. Later, police managed to contact Eyler's attempted victim, Craig Townsend, who identified him as his attacker. Even more bodies are found, one of them being Daniel Bridges, who was dismembered and had parts of his body left inside trash bags, which were found by the janitor working where Eyler lived. Eyler was arrested again and put on trial, subsequently being found guilty of Bridges' murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection. Eyler eventually died from complications caused by AIDS on March 6, 1994. Two after his death, Eyler's attorney, Kathleen Zellner, held a news conference to announce that Eyler signed a written confession in which he claimed he killed 21 people, which could not be released until his death.
Eyler killed across the American Midwest, targeting young male prostitutes, gays, and hitchhikers, choosing them at random while driving his Ford pickup truck. He would drug and bound them; and then stab, strangle, or hack them to death. Afterwards, he would dump their mutilated bodies in rural areas and off of highways, hence his nickname. He would also take photographs of his victims as a way to recall the murders.
- August 3. 1978, Terre Haute, Indiana: Craig Long, 19 (attempted, but survived; was non-fatally stabbed in the chest)
- March 22, Lexington, Kentucky: Jay Reynolds, 31 (stabbed)
- October 3, Indianopolis, Indiana: Delvoyd Baker, 14 (strangled)
- October 23, Yellowhead Township, Illinois: Steven M. Crockett, 19 (beaten and fatally stabbed 32 times)
- November 4, Crown Point, Indiana: Craig Townsend, 21 (attempted, but survived; was drugged, tortured, and beaten)
- November 6, Joliet, Illinois (found): Robert Foley
- December 25, Belshaw, Indiana, (found): John Johnson, 25
- December 28, Newport, Indiana (found):
- John Roach, 21
- Steven Agan, 23
- December 30, Highland Park, Illinois: David M. Block, 22
- January 24, Lake Forest, Illinois: Ervin Dwayne Gibson, 16
- March 4, Danville, Illinois (found): Edgar Underkofler, 27
- March 21, Belleville, Indiana: Richard A. Wayne Jr.
- April 8, Lake Forest, Illinois (found): Gustavo Herrera, 28
- May 9 (found):
- Cook, Illinois: Jimmy T. Roberts, 18
- Bellville, Indiana: Daniel Scott Mcneive, 21 (c)
- May 18, Effingham, Illnois: Richard Bruce, 25
- May 23: John Ingram Bradenburg, 19 (stabbed; his body was found on October 19; was identified in 2021)
- July 7, Ford, Illinois (found): An unidentified man
- August 8, Lake Forest, Illinois (found): Ralph Calise, 28 (stabbed 17 times)
- October 4, Kenosha, Wisconsin (found): Derrick Hansen, 18 (sexually assaulted and dismembered)
- October 15, Rensselear, Indiana (found): An unidentified man
- October 19, Lake Village, Illnois (found):
- Michael Bouer, 22
- John Barlett, 19
- "Adam Doe", 15-18 (pseudonym)
- December 7, Clayton Hendricks County, Indiana (found): Unnamed man
- August 21, 1984, Chicago, Illinois (found): Daniel "Danny" Bridges, 15 (killed by unknown causes and dismembered post-mortem)
On Criminal Minds
While Eyler was never directly mentioned on the show, he appears to have been and inspiration for the following unsubs:
- Season Three
- Steven Fitzgerald ("In Heat") - Both were homosexual serial killers who were (possibly in Fitzgerald's case), abused by father figures, had protective sisters, they became angry at themselves for their sexuality, targeted homosexual men whom they would pick up on highways, and strangled them to death (though Eyler used other methods).
- Season Twelve