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40 years later, investigators look for leads in Burger Chef murders

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Saturday marks 40 years since four teens were discovered missing from a Burger Chef restaurant near Speedway. The teens’ bodies were eventually found murdered a few days later in Johnson County. 

The mystery has stumped investigators, but they’re not done asking questions. They even have evidence for the cold case. The family members of the victims are speaking out to make sure their loved ones aren’t forgotten. Teresa Jefferies, the sister of victim Ruth Shelton, spoke to News 8 about the morning her sister and the other victims were found dead. Shelton was 18 when she was killed. 

“I’m here to talk about people; these aren’t just victims. That was my sister. Jayne, Mark, Daniel and Ruth are real people with real families with real friends that deserve justice,” said Jefferies. 

Indiana State Police First Sgt. Bill Dalton is the detective overseeing the Burger Chef case

“It’s easy to keep a 40-year-old secret if no one talks about it,” said Dalton. 

Dalton got the Burger Chef assignment in February and said he wants to bring new eyes to the case. 

They decided to release a new piece of evidence Wednesday: a picture of the knife blade found in one of the victims. 

“That’s not a knife that somebody carried in there,” said Dalton. “It’s a knife that is carried most likely in a sheath, which is distinctive.” 

Capt. Chuck Cohen, a state police technology expert, said putting the 24 binders’ worth of information would be key to finding answers. 

“There may be leads or other information that’s impossible for a single investigator or a team of investigators even reading every word of it to find the patterns,” said Cohen. “To find the consistencies, to find the inconsistencies. … We’re talking about evidence from hundreds of investigators again.” 

But nothing will change unless there are new leads.  

“If it becomes a topic or a point of discussion and everybody is talking about the Burger Chef murders again, then holding that secret becomes a little more difficult,” said Dalton.

“I’m here today because I’m standing up for my sister and all of the them and ask someone to come forward and talk,” said Jefferies.

Police say if you think the knife looks familiar or if you think it could jog your memory, call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS. They are still listening to leads and are trying to solve this case. 

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