On May 7, 1992, Sarah Blessing, age 37, was working alone in a gift shop known as Store of Many Colors. A video store owner, Tim Hickman, saw a man cross the parking lot and walk past his store. Then he heard a gunshot. When he got to his front door, he watched the man disappear around the corner. A grocery store clerk who outside saw the killer leave Blessing’s shop. He said the killer left the parking lot and walked up the hill behind Blessing’s store that led to Woodson Road.
'I kind of looked in through the door and I didn’t see anything. And I was calling ‘Ma’am, ma’am?’ And I stepped forward a couple more steps and then I saw her legs sticking out of the other room.' (Source.)
Sara Blessing was found in a pool of blood. Police believed her murder was connected to other shopping mall killings.
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In 1992 and 1993, along I-70 in the Midwest, there were possibly 8 murders and one attempted murder connected to one suspect who still remains unidentified.
In 1992, the I-70 killer is believed to have killed six store clerks in the Midwest. Because several of his victims were killed close to Interstate 70, he was nicknamed the I-70 killer.
His victims were young women, but for one man who often wore a ponytail so it’s believed he was mistaken for a woman. All of the stores involved with the killings were specialty stores. They were only robbed of a few hundred dollars.
The I-70 killer was also believed to have been involved in the 1993 and 1994 shootings in Texas of store clerks. One of the clerks survived.
The beginning of the killing spree
On April 8, 1992, a 26-year-old manager of a Payless Shoe Store, Robin Fuldauer, was killed in Indianapolis. Like other clerks, she was alone in the store when she was shot. It is believed she was killed between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m.
On April 11, 1992, 23-year-old Patricia Smith was killed at La Bride d’Elegance bridal shop in Wichita, Kansas. The 32-year-old store owner, Patricia Magers, was also killed. Investigators believe that the suspect might have thought there was only one person in the store since it is the only case involving more than one victim.
The store owner was expecting a man to pick up an item after 6:00 p.m. and it’s believed the killer was mistaken for the man she was expecting. By the time the women were murdered, the man who was the customer arrived and notified the police. He provided the police with a sketch.
On April 27, 1992, 40-year-old Michael McCown, was killed in his mom’s ceramics store located in Terre Haute, Indiana. Investigators believe that since the store owner was a woman running Sylia’s Ceramics, that the I-70 killer chose that store because he expected there would only be one woman there. McCown had a ponytail and he had his back to the killer when he was shot. It’s believed the killer thought he was a woman.
On May 3, 1992, 24-year-old Nancy Kitzmiller was killed while working at a footwear shop called Boot Village in St. Charles, Missouri. The shop opened at noon and Kitzmiller was found dead around 2:30 p.m. by customers.
Investigators believe the I-70 killer may be responsible for two murders in 1993 in Texas. One victim was 51-year old Mary Ann Glasscock who was killed in Fort Worth, Texas on September 25, 1993, at the Emporium Antiques store, and 22-year-old Amy Vess, who was shot in a dance apparel store on November 1 in Arlington, Texas.
On January 15, 1994, 35-year-old Vicki Webb was shot at an Alternatives gift shop in Houston, Texas who briefly talked to her shooter before being shot in the back of the head. The bullet didn’t penetrate her head and when he shot her again, the gun misfired. He believed she was dead and left.
The method of the killer in Texas was similar to the I-70 killer which also involved a .22-caliber firearm. However, a ballistics test determined that the gun used in the Texas murders was not the same as the one used by the I-70 killer. It can’t be confirmed that the I-70 killer is the same person involved with the shootings in Texas.
All the murders involved a .22-caliber firearm. All victims were alone except for the victims in the Wichita shop. All victims were shot in the back of the head. There were no signs of sexual assault. Because the stores were small specialty businesses, it’s believed that robbery was only a second motive because there wasn’t a lot of money involved. The killings took place when there wasn’t a lot of traffic in the shops like during the lunch hour or around the times they would close. They were also in strip malls close to I-70.
Although Midwest investigators have linked the shootings to those in Texas, the authorities in Texas aren’t convinced there’s a connection since the guns are different.
Investigators obtained two composite sketches and a physical description of the suspect. The killer was described as being a white male standing between 5'7" to 5'9" tall. He was believed to be in his 20s or 30s with sandy blond or reddish hair. If he is still alive, he would be in his 50s or 60s now
Wichita homicide detective Tim Relph has worked the case for decades and thinks about it often. He says every day he comes to work, the case file is still sitting on his desk. In 1992, there was initial hope that someone might recognize a sketch of the killer made from the description of an eyewitness to the bridal shop murders. It produced no solid leads and the case went cold.