Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Larry Eyler, the Highway Murderer


Appeals proceeded on Eyler's behalf, with the anticipation that he could spend years--even decades--on death row. The case's first new surprise surfaced in October 1990, when Vermillion County prosecutor Larry Thomas announced that he was reopening the Agan murder case. A month later, Eyler agreed to cooperate with Thomas and named an alleged accomplice in that slaying. Eyler made his formal statement to police on December 4, 1990, including a comment that "I ask God to forgive me, because I can never forgive myself."

Four days later, detectives served search warrants at the Terre Haute home of Professor Robert Little, and at Little's office on the campus of Indiana State University. The items seized included numerous videotapes and some 300 still photographs, including snapshots of Larry Eyler posed in jockey shorts and boots, holding a riding crop. Detained at City Hall, Little answered preliminary questions, then demanded an attorney when the subject matter changed to murder. His lawyer was summoned but never arrived, and Little was soon released without charges.

On December 13, Eyler was escorted to Clinton, Indiana  escorted by Vermillion County Sheriff Perry Hollowell. On arrival, he pled guilty to the Agan murder and agreed to testify against Little at trial. Eyler's statement to Judge Don Darnell included the claim that on August 19, 1982, "[Little] asked me, did I want to play a scene"--allegedly their code for a staged homosexual act, climaxed by murder. They picked up Agan together, Eyler said, and drove him to an abandoned farm building off Route 63, where he was bound, suspended from a rafter, and stabbed to death. According to Eyler, Little photographed the murder in progress and kept Agan's T-shirt as a souvenir.

On December 18, Eyler returned to Clinton for a polygraph test, which he reportedly passed. Little surrendered the same day, in Terre Haute, and pled not guilty to first-degree murder. He was held without bond, suspended with pay from his university post pending disposition of the case. On December 28--eight years to the day after Steve Agan's body was found--Eyler received a 60-year prison term for the crime.

Suddenly, Larry Eyler was a hot property in Indiana. Prosecutors from five more counties contacted his attorneys, offering 60-year prison terms if Eyler would confess to unsolved murders in their jurisdictions. He agreed, offering to clear twenty homicides in return for commutation of his death sentence, but Cook County prosecutors flatly rejected the deal on January 8, 1991.


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