Murder Sheet

You Never Can Forget: The Tank

December 08, 2020 Mystery Sheet Season 1 Episode 4
Murder Sheet
You Never Can Forget: The Tank
Chapters
0:00
Intro
2:12
About "You Never Can Forget"
4:13
Forrester's Background
5:35
The Attack
10:29
The Investigation Begins
14:58
The Trial
20:22
Prisoner
21:12
Marion County Takes a Look
27:41
The Break
29:12
Next Week
Murder Sheet
You Never Can Forget: The Tank
Dec 08, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Mystery Sheet

Donald Forrester is perhaps the most famous suspect in the Burger Chef murder case.

But before he confessed to the murders twice, he perpetuated a number of awful crimes. He terrorized the women around him, until a brave young woman survived a horrific encounter and sought bring him to justice.

Learn more about why many people still insist that he got away with the killings.

Follow the Murder Sheet on social media for the latest on the Burger Chef murders and future episodes: 

And send tips to [email protected] 

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Donald Forrester is perhaps the most famous suspect in the Burger Chef murder case.

But before he confessed to the murders twice, he perpetuated a number of awful crimes. He terrorized the women around him, until a brave young woman survived a horrific encounter and sought bring him to justice.

Learn more about why many people still insist that he got away with the killings.

Follow the Murder Sheet on social media for the latest on the Burger Chef murders and future episodes: 

And send tips to [email protected] 

Áine Cain: Content warning: This episode contains discussion of violence against women, rape, and murder.

*Sounds of traffic outside an Indianapolis Denny's* 

The Denny’s restaurant doesn’t look like much, stuck amidst the endless stretch of strip malls on the northside of Indianapolis. When we visited in the middle of a sunny afternoon this October, we found it tucked in a row of fast food joints: White Castle, Zaxby’s, Burger King, Steak N’ Shake. A steady stream of traffic rushed by the eateries on East 82nd Street. But there were far fewer cars around in the early morning hours of April 1, 1979.

Back over forty years ago, a woman we’ll call Liz had been having a great evening. She ran into an old friend at a party and then the two of them went to this Denny’s to continue the process of reconnecting. The hours passed as they chatted together in a booth, and around 3 A.M. the two decided it was time to go their separate ways.

When Liz walked to her car and drove off, this road looked dark and empty. It did not take her long to realize someone was following her in a green Camaro. 

The men trailing her — Donald Forrester and his cousin Dale Dawson — had just been ordered out of the parking lot of a nearby bar for harassing women. Now they had their eye on Liz. 

What she did not know — what she could not possibly know — was that Forrester would later confess to being one of the Burger Chef killers. And he would spend the rest of his life in prison for what he was about to do to her.

*Eerie music plays*

Áine Cain: My name is Aine Cain.

Kevin Greenlee: And I’m Kevin Greenlee.

Áine Cain: And we’re the Murder Sheet. We’ll be taking a multi-part look into the Burger Chef murders. We’ll be presenting you with a new theory about what happened each week as part of our miniseries, "You Never Can Forget."

On a weekly basis, you’re going to hear from figures you’ve never heard from before. You’re going to hear about facts that you’ve never heard before. And hopefully, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of the sheer complexity of this awful crime.

Kevin Greenlee: We don’t just rely on what we’ve been told or what we’ve read. We have worked this case ourselves. 

We decided to do this podcast so we can tell you what we’ve learned and even clear up a few misconceptions. In this miniseries, we will give you the top theories about the crime. After we’re finished covering the Burger Chef case, the Murder Sheet will continue to investigate different restaurant related homicides for the rest of season one. 

Áine Cain: We’re the Murder Sheet, and this is “You Never Can Forget: The Tank.”

*Eerie music based on the Burger Chef jingle plays* 

Kevin Greenlee: Donald Forrester was just the sort of man you would expect to commit the Burger Chef murders.

He grew up on the south side of Indianapolis — not terribly far from the murder site. He knew the area well. In fact, in 1969, he molested a girl about a mile from where the bodies of the Burger Chef victims would be discovered. 

He also had connections to the Speedway area. His cousin Dale lived at a hotel that was in the shopping center across the street from the Burger Chef. And Dale also worked at a McDonald’s just down the road.

Forrester committed robberies — he even robbed at least one Burger Chef restaurant.

He was violent. The people who knew him were scared of him.

He liked to rape women. After pleading guilty to assaulting his own sister, he was sent to prison for five years. He was released in Oct 1978, about a month before the Burger Chef murders. 

In the earliest days of the investigation, someone even called the line police set up to receive tips about the murders and gave them Forrester’s name.

But he wasn’t taken especially seriously as a suspect until after he stalked Liz on that spring morning in 1979.

Áine Cain:  Last October, we spoke to Tom Davidson, who investigated Liz’s case for the Indiana State Police. He arrived to the meeting with a sharp memory and a printed-out copy of the memoir he wrote for his grandkids, detailing his time as a state trooper. We were struck by the immense empathy he still has for Liz and the other victims of violent crimes that he’s worked on. Our interview took place in a busy Panera Bread on the westside of Indianapolis, so please pardon the sound quality. 

As Liz drove home through the darkness — and became increasingly convinced she was being followed — she made a choice.

Tom Davidson; AND SHE DECIDED I’M NOT GOING TO GO HOME BECAUSE IF I DO THAT THEY’RE GOING TO KNOW WHERE I LIVE. THERE WAS A STOPLIGHT AND SHE DELIBERATELY RAN THE STOPLIGHT TO SEE WHETHER OR NOT SHE WAS BEING FOLLOWED. THEY RAN THE STOPLIGHT. 

Kevin Greenlee: Now she knew they were definitely following her. She found a street in a residential area and pulled over, figuring the car behind her would just drive right by her. 

But they didn’t.

Tom Davidson: THERE WAS A CAR IN FRONT OF HER AND HERE SHE WAS AND THEY TRAPPED HER IN. FORRESTER GOT OUT AND WALKED UP AND SHE ROLLED THE WINDOW DOWN A LITTLE BIT. WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THAT SERIAL KILLER THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT?

Kevin Greenlee: TED BUNDY?

Tom Davidson: TED BUNDY. FORRESTER WAS LIKE BUNDY. HE COULD TELL A STORY. SO HE TOLD HER SO HE TELLS HER “YOU KNOW ME, DON’T YOU?” AND SHE GOES, "I’VE NEVER SEEN YOU BEFORE." FORRESTER PULLS OUT HIS DRIVERS LICENSE AND SHOWS IT TO HER.

Kevin Greenlee: Would Forrester – still on parole — have shown her his identification if he expected her to survive this night and get a chance to give his name to police?

Tom Davidson: HE PULLS A GUN AND INSERTS IT THROUGH THE WINDOW. AND TELLS HER TO GET OUT OR HE WAS GOING TO KILL HER. SO SHE GETS OUT. 

Áine Cain: He led her back to the car. 

Tom Davidson: THEY WERE DRIVING A CAMARO. IT TURNS OUT IT WAS GREEN WITH A BEIGE INTERIOR.

Áine Cain: Forrester gave his cousin an order.

Tom Davidson: HE TELLS HIS COUSIN TO DRIVE TO THE COUNTRY. WHILE HIS COUSIN IS DRIVING, FORRESTER RAPES HER.

Áine Cain: Neither Forrerster or his cousin were familiar with the area.

Tom Davidson: THEY GET LOST. AND SHE’S NAKED IN THE BACK SEAT WITH FORRESTER. 

Áine Cain: Forrester told his cousin to drive to a field. Liz realized what this meant.

Tom Davidson: SHE KNEW SHE WAS GOING TO BE MURDERED. SO SHE WAS IN THE BACK SEAT OF A CAMARO WHICH WAS A TWO DOOR AND THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE. A CAT OR A RABBIT RUNS IN FRONT OF THE CAR FORRESTER’S COUSIN SLAMS ON THE BRAKES TO KEEP FROM KILLING THIS ANIMAL, WHEN THEY’RE GETTING READY TO TAKE THIS WOMAN OUT AND KILL HER. WELL WHEN THEY DO THAT SHE REACHES UP AND OPENS THE PASSENGER DOOR. SHE’S STARK NAKED.

Kevin Greenlee: Liz leapt out of the car and took off running into the darkness. But Forrester and his cousin followed.

Tom Davidson: THEY CIRCLE BACK AND THEY SEARCH FOR HER BUT SHE IS HIDING IN THE BUSHES. 

Áine Cain: Finally Forrester and his cousin gave up and drive off. Liz felt she was safe at last. All she needs to do is get someone to help her.

Tom Davidson: SHE GOES UP TO A HOUSE AND KNOCKS ON THE DOOR -- PLEASE CALL THE POLICE. AND THE WOMAN COMES TO THE DOOR AND SEES HER SAYS THERE’S NOTHING I CAN DO FOR YOU AND CLOSES THE DOOR. 

Kevin Greenlee: She went to another house. They would not let her into their house, but they did call the police for her.

When the Anderson cops arrived, they took her to the hospital and they listened to her story — but they had doubts. How, they wondered, could she have escaped from the back of a Camaro when those cars only had two doors? 

Áine Cain: In 2020, many rape survivors struggle to have their stories heard and believed by those tasked with investigating crimes. 1979 was even worse, in that regard. This was a time in America when the question of whether or not husbands could rape their wives was still being hotly debated in the national media (and across the pages of the Indianapolis Star and the Indianapolis News).

Kevin Greenlee: Forrester, meanwhile, took his cousin back to his room at the American Inn, which happened to be across the street from the Burger Chef. The cousin took Liz’s clothes and stuffed them into a dumpster at the hotel.

The next morning, Forrester’s wife saw him washing out the interior of the Camaro with a hose. He was covering his tracks and probably thought he was safe. He didn’t realize that, unlike the Anderson police, state trooper Tom Davidson took Liz’s story seriously and that he and his partner Tom Jarvis were coming for him.

Áine Cain: The first thing Davidson and Jarvis did was locate Liz’s car, which was still parked on the residential street where she had been snatched. There, they found they caught a break.

Tom Davidson: A LOT OF TIMES WHEN IT’S RAINED AND MUD IT WILL POOL AGAINST THE CURB. I GOT FORRESTER’S TIRE TRACKS. 

Kevin Greenlee: Then, Davidson got another idea.

Tom Davidson: I SAID LET’S SEE IF WE CAN DO A SKETCH. SO WE DID A SKETCH. SO I SAID HERE’S WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO. SO WE’RE GOING TO GO TO EVERY BUSINESS THAT WAS OPEN THAT NIGHT AND PASS THESE AROUND. 

Áine Cain: The strategy worked. Within days, Davidson and Jarvis got a call from the manager of a bar. Two men matching the sketches were there. The troopers rushed over. Immediately they spotted something familiar in the parking lot.

Tom Davidson: THERE’S THE CAR EXACTLY AS SHE HAD DESCRIBED IT. I WENT OVER TO THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE CAR. AND I COMPARED THE TIRE PRINTS TO THE PHOTOGRAPHS THAT I HAD AND THEY MATCHED.

Áine Cain: The next step was clear.

Tom Davidson: SO I SAID TOM — OF COURSE WE’RE BOTH IN PLAIN CLOTHES. LET’S GO IN THERE AND CONFRONT THEM. SO WE GO IN, AND THEY HAVE SPLIT UP. 

Kevin Greenlee: Davidson headed straight for Forrester and Jarvis went to the cousin, Dale Dawson.

Tom Davidson: TOM ASKED FOR THE OTHER GUY’S ID. THE POOR GUY. HE’S NOT 21 YEARS OLD AND HE’S STANDING THERE WITH A BEER IN HIS HAND. SO TOM PLACES HIM UNDER ARREST.

Kevin Greenlee: When he was asked who helped him get the alcohol, Dawson pointed to Forrester. So they arrested him for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. 

Tom Davidson: SO WE CUFF THEM TAKE THEM OUT AND PUT THEM IN DIFFERENT CARS. 

Kevin Greenlee: Tom Jarvis had a blunt message for Dale Dawson

Tom Davidson: YOU’RE GOING TO PRISON. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY’RE GOING TO DO TO SEX OFFENDERS IN PRISON? YOU’RE GOING TO GET PUNKED.

Áine Cain: But Dawson was more afraid of his own cousin.

Tom Davidson: WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T PUT ME IN A CELL WITH HIM. BECAUSE HE WAS CONVINCED HE WOULD KILL HIM.

Kevin Greenlee: Davidson showed Dawson the photographs he had taken of the tire tracks at the crime scene and pointed out that they matched the tracks on the car he and Forrester were using. 

Tom Davidson: I SAID — AND THIS IS NOT REALLY TRUE EITHER — I SAID THIS IS AS GOOD AS A FINGERPRINT. AND WHEN HE SAW I HAD THE PHOTOS OF THEIR TIRES HE CAVED AND HE CONFESSED. TOOK US TO WHERE THE GUN WAS THAT THEY HAD USED. 

Áine Cain: Davidson got another surprise about Forrester.

Tom Davidson: I FOUND OUT HE WAS MARRIED. I WENT AND TALKED TO HIS WIFE SHE WAS TOTALLY MORTIFIED. SHE HAD NO IDEA. OF HIS BACKGROUND. SHE TOLD ME THAT FORRESTER HAD TOLD HER HE WAS ON PROBATION AND NOT PAROLE WHICH IS A BIG DIFFERENCE BECAUSE HE WAS IN A CAR THAT WAS USED IN A BURGLARY. AND I SAID MRS FORRESTER HE RAPED HIS NIECE. THAT’S WHY HE WAS ON PAROLE. WELL SHE JUST TOLD EVERYTHING. 

Kevin Greenlee: One bizarre anecdote she shared suggested a possible tie to another case.

Tom Davidson: THE BURGER CHEF CONNECTION IS THAT SHE SAID WE WERE DOWN IN JOHNSON COUNTY DRIVING AROUND AND WE CAME TO A BRIDGE. 

Áine: This location was very near the site of where the Burger Chef victims were shot. 

Tom Davidson: AND HE SAID LET’S STOP HERE AND GO DOWN TO THE CREEK. HE STARTED LOOKING AROUND AND HE FOUND SOME .22 SPENT SHELLS. 

Forrester gathered the shells for what he called a “remembrance.” But when he got to the home he shared with his wife he flushed them down the toilet. This seemed, at the very least, to be suspicious but the focus of law enforcement was squarely on convicting Forrester on the rape and so not much attention was paid to this detail at the time.

Kevin Greenlee: Forrester did not make a good impression on Wilmer Goering, his court appointed attorney. 

Wilmer Goering: DONALD RAY WAS A VERY UNPLEASANT PERSON TO BE AROUND. I GUESS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT CAME OUT IN THE COURSE OF MY REPRESENTATION OF HIM WAS THAT HE WAS REALLY VERY MUCH OF A RACIST. 

Kevin Greenlee: HOW DID IT COME OUT THAT HE WAS A RACIST?

Wilmer Goering: OH HE EXPRESSED IT IN MANY TIMES IN MANY WAYS.

Kevin Greenlee: Representing Forrester caused an unexpected risk for Goering.

Wilmer Goering: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED — JUST BEFORE THE TRIAL STARTED, I GOT A CALL AT HOME WHICH MY WIFE ANSWERED AND SAID THAT IF DONALD RAY WAS NOT ACQUITTED I WOULD BE NEXT. SO IT WAS THREATENING MY LIFE, AS HIS DEFENSE ATTORNEY. WHICH IS A LITTLE UNUSUAL. I’VE HAD PLENTY OF PEOPLE THREATEN ME AS A PROSECUTOR BUT NOT AS A DEFENSE ATTORNEY. SO WHAT I DID WITH THAT WAS I WENT TO THE JUDGE AND THE PROSECUTOR AND THEY ARRANGED FOR ADDITIONAL COURT ROOM SECURITY. 

AT ONE POINT THEY HAD A SIGNAL WORKED OUT DURING THE TRIAL. ONE OF THE UNDERCOVER DETECTIVES SITTING IN THE COURTROOM SAW ANOTHER THE RELATIVES OF DONALD RAY IN THE COURTROOM, ANOTHER COUSIN AND HE HAD A GUN IN AN ANKLE HOLSTER. SO THE JUDGE CALLED A RECESS AND THE OFFICERS CHECKED PEOPLE AS THEY LEFT THE COURTROOM BUT BY THEN HE HAD PASSED THE GUN OFF TO SOMEBODY ELSE — PROBABLY A FEMALE WHO HAD A PURSE — AND THEY DID NOT FIND THE GUN BUT THEY DID SEE THE GUN IN THE COURTROOM. 

Kevin Greenlee: Goering had taken on a tough job in a number of respects. Davidson and Jarvis had collected enough evidence to create a strong case against Forrester.

Áine Cain: But there was still the possibility that he’d walk. In an Indianapolis Star article from December 5, 1978, deputy prosecutor Ann Delaney noted that she wished local juries would “enter the 20th century” when it came to attitudes about rape. She noted that to get a conviction on a rape case, she felt she needed a victim who was both "lily white and a virgin" to convince older male jurors.  

Kevin Greenlee: Despite her ordeal — and ongoing harassment from Forrester’s male relatives — Liz testified against Forrester at his trial. She impressed Goering.

Wilmer Goering: SHE WAS OBVIOUSLY VERY TRAUMATIZED. BUT SHE DID A GOOD JOB ON THE WITNESS STAND DURING THE TRIAL. SHE DID A DECENT JOB IN HER DEPOSITION TOO OBVIOUSLY. SHE WAS COMPLETELY BELIEVABLE. THERE WAS NO QUESTION IN TERMS OF IDENTIFICATION, AND I DON’T THINK THERE WAS ANY QUESTION AS TO WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED TO HER IF SHE HADN’T JUMPED OUT.

Kevin Greenlee: YOU BELIEVE HE WOULD HAVE KILLED HER?

Wilmer Goering: YEAH HE WOULD HAVE KILLED HER. IF SHE WAS CONVINCED OF THAT I HAVE NO REASON TO DOUBT THAT AT ALL.

Kevin Greenlee: The jury ended up believing Liz as well. Forrester was convicted and sentenced to 95 years. 

We believe that when Liz jumped out of the Camaro, she didn’t just save her own life. She helped put away a predator who stalked and targeted women — strangers and kin alike — and seemed to be escalating in terms of violence. 

Áine Cain: She is a hero.

After the trial, Forrester was locked in his cell at Pendleton Reformatory but he was not destined to be forgotten. 

*Podcast promo*

Áine Cain: Let’s take a quick break from The Murder Sheet Presents: "You Never Can Forget” to tell you about a podcast investigating yet another unforgettable crime. 

The Orange Tree is a seven-part series about a 2005 homicide that happened near the University of Texas at Austin. The murder of 21-year-old Jennifer Cave, who was shot, dismembered, and left in a bathtub at her friend Colton Pitonyak’s apartment, continues to haunt the area to this day.

Kevin Greenlee: Like the Burger Chef murders, this case features plenty of twists and turns, including Colton’s flight to Mexico with another UT student Laura Hall. Both were later convicted in connection with the crime, although Colton has continued to appeal his verdict and claim innocence. The business student-turned-convicted-murderer now says that he doesn’t remember much about the night Jennifer died. 

Áine Cain: The Orange Tree is reported on and produced by Haley Butler and Tinu Thomas, who were both seniors at the University of Texas when they started the project.

Together, Haley and Tinu strive to piece together this tragic story in an in-depth podcast that features audio from courtroom scenes and interrogation rooms, prison phone calls, and exclusive interviews with both perpetrators and the victim’s family.

You can binge all seven episodes of The Orange Tree today on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. And now, back to the Murder Sheet.

And now, back to the Murder Sheet.

*End of podcast promo*

Kevin Greenlee: Forrester wasn’t a model prisoner in the years after his conviction. 

He was confined to solitary after refusing to testify for the state in a murder trial. He carved a shiv from a toothbrush. In 1983, he pretended to be ill in order to snag a trip to the hospital in a prison van. Upon arriving, Forrester and two other prisoners picked the locks on their shackles, overpowered the guard, and fled. After a warning shot, the van driver managed to shoot one of the escapees with a rifle. It wasn’t Forrester. He’d nearly made it to the edge of the White River before he was recaptured.

Áine Cain: That night, Davidson called up the prison superintendent to let him know that his men had killed “the wrong guy.” 

It wasn’t until a few years after that that Mel Willsey of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department first heard of Forrester. Remember that the Marion County Sheriff's Department has jurisdiction in the Burger Chef case because Speedway is located in Marion County. 

Mel Willsey: YOU GET TO KNOW PEOPLE AS AN INVESTIGATOR YOU KNOW SNITCHES AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANTS AND ALL OF THAT. SOMEBODY CAME TO ME AND SAID HEY THIS GUY IS TALKING ABOUT THE BURGER CHEF AND HE MAY HAVE SOMETHING FOR YOU BUT I DON’T KNOW IF HE’LL TALK TO YOU. AND THAT WAS FORRESTER.

Kevin Greenlee: Pendleton was about a 40 minute trip from Willsey’s home base in Indianapolis. He decided it was worth the drive. 

Mel Willsey: ANOTHER DETECTIVE AND I WENT TO PENDLETON INDIANA AND WENT IN AND TRIED TO SEE HIM AND HE WOULDN’T TALK WITH US.  WE WENT BACK. HE FINALLY STARTED TALKING TO US A LITTLE BIT. BITS AND PIECES, STRINGING YOU ALONG. THROUGH SOME OF THE CONVERSATIONS WE WERE TRYING TO THINK — IS HE JUST TELLING US STUFF THAT HE’S READ?

Áine Cain: It is a problem police often have with informants — especially in an age where stories detailing crimes appear on television and in the newspapers. A smart con can take what he encounters in the press and spin a convincing tale around it in order to manipulate the system — or he may be honestly trying to share the truth as he knows it. 

Kevin Greenlee: The only way to figure it out is to listen, and to always be on the lookout for supporting evidence. 

Mel Willsey: SO HE FINALLY AGREED TO TALK WITH US BUT HE WOULDN’T TALK WITH US WHILE HE WAS AN INMATE AT PENDLETON. SO WE GOT A COURT ORDER. AND BROUGHT HIM BACK TO OUR JAIL HERE.

Áine Cain: During the trip, Willsey decided to take a chance and see if he could get something from Forrester that would support his claims. 

Mel Willsey: WHEN WE HAD HIM IN THE CAR AND BROUGHT HIM BACK FROM PENDLETON WHICH IS NORTHEAST OF HERE MAYBE AN HOUR WE’RE TALKING AND SAID, "IF YOU’RE GOING TO COOPERATE I NEED YOU TO SHOW ME WHERE THESE KIDS WERE MURDERED." AND HE TOOK US RIGHT TO THE SPOT TOOK US UP ON INTO THE WOODS AND SHOWED US WHERE THE BODIES WERE. HE WOULDN’T HAVE KNOWN THAT. 

Áine Cain: Unless, of course, he was there that night. 

Willsey began to wonder if Forrester was more than just a man with knowledge, more than a witness. Maybe he was an actual participant in the murders.

Kevin Greenlee: Meanwhile he pressed Forrester to reveal what he knew about why the crime even happened. 

Mel Willsey: HE SAID EARLIER THAT THE REASON FOR THE BURGER CHEF WAS THE FACT THAT JAYNE FRIEDT’S BROTHER.

Áine Cain: JIMMY?

Mel Willsey: YES — OWED THEM A BUNCH OF MONEY AND THEY WENT OVER THERE JUST TO ROUGH THEM UP. TO GET JIMMY’S ATTENTION — OF COURSE HE WASN’T THERE — IT WAS HIS SISTER. AND HOPING SHE WOULD SAY SOMETHING TO HIM. 

Áine Cain: They worked Forrester hard, trying to get him to explain all the lingering mysteries in the case. 

Mel Willsey: WE TOOK SEVERAL STATEMENTS FROM HIM. WE TOOK HIM WITH US SEVERAL MORE TIMES TO DIFFERENT LOCATIONS IN SPEEDWAY. BACK TO WHERE THE RESTAURANT WAS. HE SHOWED US WHERE THEY PARKED THE MANAGER’S CAR — JAYNE FRIEDT’S CAR. HE SAID THEY PARKED IT THERE JUST TO PLAY MIND GAMES WITH THE SPEEDWAY POLICE. 

Kevin Greenlee: Willsey and Forrester spent a great deal of time together.

Mel Willsey: YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A RELATIONSHIP EVEN THOUGH HE’S AN INMATE. HE WASN’T A FRIEND AND I NEVER TREATED HIM LIKE THAT BUT HE GOT TO TRUST IN US. 

Áine Cain: As time passed, Wilsey became convinced he had the guilty man.

Mel Willsey: IT JUST SEEMED LIKE FORRESTER WAS THE RIGHT GUY. HE KNEW A LOT OF THINGS THAT WEREN’T PUBLIC. 

Kevin Greenlee: But the problem was that basically all Forrester had given them was a story and a few names. If the case was to move forward they would need some hard evidence. His first move was to try to get some incriminating evidence on the man Forrester identified as the one most responsible for the crime.

Áine Cain: This individual, according to Forrester, was a major drug dealer in the area. It was this person to whom Jayne allegedly owed the debt that cost her her life. 

But the man worked in a factory, and police couldn’t even find proof he even sold drugs at all.

Mel Willsey: I COULDN’T GET ANYTHING ON [THE MAN FORRESTER IDENTIFIED] OTHER THAN WHAT FORRESTER WAS TELLING US. WE DID A LOT OF BACKGROUND ON HIM FOLLOWING HIM. WE DID SO MANY THINGS ON HIM.

Áine Cain: RIGHT.

Mel Willsey: SAT ON HIS HOUSE. FOLLOWED HIM TO HIS JOB. FOLLOWED HIM FROM HIS JOB. WE NEVER FOUND ANYTHING. I DON’T THINK HE KNEW WE WERE WATCHING HIM. 

Kevin Greenlee: If he didn’t know he was being watched, then it seemed unlikely he was modifying his behavior to seem less suspicious. 

But one peculiar incident stuck in Wilsey’s mind.

Mel Willsey: WHAT WAS ODD TO US WE CALLED [THE MAN FORRESTER IDENTIFIED] IN ONE NIGHT.

Áine Cain: RIGHT.

Mel Willsey:  HE CAME IN. AND WE TOLD HIM WHAT WE WERE LOOKING INTO AND WE TOLD HIM SOME OF THE INFORMATION WE HEARD. AND HE DIDN’T REALLY SAY A WHOLE LOT. AND HE SAID, "I’D LIKE TO HAVE AN ATTORNEY." NOT A PROBLEM. I THINK WE MADE AN APPOINTMENT FOR THE NEXT DAY OR TWO OR THREE DAYS LATER. AND HE SHOWED UP WITH JIM VOYLES. AND VOYLES IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE HIGHEST PRICE ATTORNEYS. SO IT JUST SEEMED ODD THAT HERE’S A GUY WHO WORKED AS A FACTORY WORKER AND NOT INVOLVED IN ANYTHING AND YOU PULL HIM IN AND THE NEXT TIME YOU SEE HIM WITH ONE OF THE HIGHEST PAID LAWYERS IN INDIANAPOLIS.

Áine Cain: While that episode seemed unusual it certainly did not constitute evidence that what Forrester was telling them about the man was true. Willsey needed something more. 

Kevin Greenlee: And then he got a break.

Forrester at one point mentioned that he was present when the victims were killed and that afterwards he casually tossed the spent shells into a nearby creek. 

Áine Cain: This rang a bell in someone’s mind, reminding them of the odd anecdote Mrs. Forrester told Tom Davidson about how her husband had gathered spent shells at a creek near the crime scene, brought them home and promptly flushed them down the toilet. 

Kevin Greenlee: Someone did some checking. The house the Forresters lived in at the time was not hooked up to a sewer but rather to a septic tank. It was therefore possible that, even after all this time, the shells could still be there.

Áine Cain: It was the middle of summer and scorchingly hot but the investigators did not hesitate. They got a warrant, went out to the old Forrester place and started digging. 

Together with Don Lindsay of the state police, Willsey sifted through the raw sewage, rain water and excrement searching for a shell casing. It was a wretched, foul-smelling twist on the old idiom of searching for a needle in a haystack.

Kevin Greenlee: After a while, it seemed that if there was evidence to be found supporting Forrester’s bonafides, it would just have to be discovered elsewhere.

Then, someone plucked a small, hard cylinder from the stench. Then another. And another. 

Áine Cain: Three shell casings. 

Kevin Greenlee: Next week on the Murder Sheet, we take an in-depth look at Forrester’s story. 

Áine Cain: Also tensions rise between the state police and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.

Jim Cramer: THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CALLED ME I KNOW YOU’RE NOT DAY TO DAY ON THIS BUT CAN YOU GO. THERE WAS SOME FRICTION BETWEEN DON AND THESE INVESTIGATORS. AND HE SAID, "CAN YOU GO OVER THERE AND KIND OF SMOOTH THIS OUT AND MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T GET OUT OF HAND?"

Kevin Greenlee:  Thanks for listening to this episode of the Murder Sheet Presents: "You Never Can Forget." Special thanks to Kevin Tyler Greenlee, who composed the music for the Murder Sheet, and who you can find on the web at kevintg.com.  

Áine Cain:
To keep up with the latest on the Murder Sheet, make sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter @murdersheet and on Facebook @msheetpodcast or by searching Murder Sheet. For exclusive content like bonus episodes and case files, become a patron of the Murder Sheet on Patreon.

If you enjoyed listening to the Murder Sheet, please leave us a five star review to help us gain more exposure. And send tips, suggestions, and feedback to [email protected]. Thanks so much for listening.

And please stay tuned for word from our friend Nina at the podcast Already Gone — a great podcast you should be listening to. She actually introduced me to the Burger Chef case with her 2016 episode on the crime. 

*Melancholy music plays*

Nina Innsted from “Already Gone”: Murder, missing persons, unsolved mysteries — ”Already Gone” explores lesser-known cases from Michigan and the Great Lakes region. I’m Nina Innsted, the voice behind the “Already Gone” podcast. Join me for a look at stories that will have you looking over your shoulder and locking the doors at night. Listen to “Already Gone” on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite podcatcher.  

Intro
About "You Never Can Forget"
Forrester's Background
The Attack
The Investigation Begins
The Trial
Prisoner
Marion County Takes a Look
The Break
Next Week