America’s Amish Serial Killer – A Christmas Murder

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Eli Stutzman.
On Christmas Eve of 1985 a gentleman by the name of Chuck Kleveland, from Chester, Nebraska, decided to go get himself a haircut to look presentable on Christmas day. He never made it there; on his way to the barber shop, Chuck discovered a deceased young boy wearing blue footed pyjamas lying on the side of the road. Nobody knew who the child was, or even what killed him; the town of Chester was heartbroken over the discovery. They all banded together, named the child “Little Boy Blue” and raised the necessary funds to give this baby a proper burial and head stone in their local cemetery.

The case received national attention, and in 1987 Reader’s Digest wrote an article about the little boy. Luckily a couple from Wyoming saw it; they contacted authorities with information which solved the mystery. They said little boy blue was actually 9 year old Daniel Stutzman, the son of Eli Stutzman. Danny had been living with the couple for a long period of time until just before Christmas when his father had come to collect him. Eli claimed he was taking his son to visit family for the holidays; sadly the child’s life came to an end within days of his father taking him away.

The boy’s father, Eli, had been raised in a strict Amish community called Apple Creek, in Ohio. He was a known pathological liar, a hard drug user who would do anything for a good time, and a closeted gay man. Nevertheless, he married a good Amish girl by the name of Ida and together the couple conceived baby Danny. Within months of Danny’s birth, Ida was again expecting. In 1977, when Danny was just ten months old, Ida passed away in a barn fire. Eli claimed that lightening had struck the barn, and Ida ran into said barn to save some equipment from the fire. Police had a hunch that arson may have been to blame, but they never could prove it; the young mother’s death was ruled an accident. This is believed to be Eli’s first murder; Ida had been in her third trimester, very close to giving birth, and Eli absolutely did not want any more children – truth be told, he hadn’t wanted the boy that he already had.

Directly following the fire, Eli loaded little Danny up and they traveled from place to place, all over the country. The poor boy was described as “slow” with a severe stutter, and he was terribly neglected and abused. Eventually the aforementioned couple, who felt sorry for the child, took Danny in while his father continued to drift from place to place.

Unbeknownst to the caring couple, by the time Eli picked up from their stable and living home, he was already wanted in Texas for the murder of his roommate, Glen Pritchett. Back in May, Glen had been found lying in a ditch riddled with bullets; Eli skipped town before he could be brought in for questioning. General consensus is that Danny, who was with his father in Texas while living with Glen, likely witnessed his father murder his roommate; Eli may have killed his son in order to permanently hush him up.

Once Daniel was identified, Eli was quickly arrested. He denied having killed Daniel – he claimed that the child had passed away from an infection, so he’d simply dumped Danny’s little body on the side of the road like trash. Eli was charged with neglect and abandoning a body, and he was ultimately found guilty; for the murder of his roommate, Glen, he was sentenced to 40 years. Eli served only 13 years of his sentence and our serial killer was back on the streets.

A memorial the town of Chester erected in Danny’s name.

Our story doesn’t end here, friends – there are 2 more known victims to add to Eli’s head count. Both Dennis Sleater and David Tyler were gay men living in Durango, Colorado, and both had attended a party with Eli. Soon after that party, Dennis was shot while he was working as a store clerk; this murder appeared to be a robbery. Just weeks later, David was found dead in back of his pickup which was sitting outside his place of employment. While it is absolutely believed that Eli killed them both, there was never enough physical proof to prosecute.

On January 31st of 2007, 57 year old Eli was living with AIDS; he got himself high on cocaine, slashed his wrists, and died alone inside his Fort Worth, Texas, apartment.

Ida’s burial
Terrific book, of this case interests you. But any and everything written by Olsen is worth the read
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