The man who left more questions than answers when he died. But even before death, you most likely would have never gotten the truth from him anyways.
Photo by Frances Gunn on Unsplash
Eli Stutzman Jr grew up in an Amish community in Apple Creek, Ohio. People who knew Eli when he was still in the community, said that he had always rebelled against not just their way of life, but his father, who was a high-ranking bishop.
The Questionable Fire
In 1977 his wife was pregnant when she died in a barn fire under questionable circumstances.
When the authorities tried to question Eli about the fire, he was elusive and gave inconsistent stories about what had happened.
Eli said that the barn was struck by lightning and caught fire. His wife, who was five-months pregnant, supposedly ran into the blaze to rescue milking equipment.
But those who knew Eli said they believed he started the fire and trapped his wife inside because he didn?t want any more children.
It?s said that Eli had an emotional breakdown after his wife?s death. He wired his house for electricity, stopped farming, shaved his beard, which is all against traditional Amish rules.
Soon after this, he started traveling for long periods, where he said he was looking for work. He and his wife had another child, a son named Danny, who was ten months old, who Eli would leave behind with family and friends.
Eli Stutzman via MurderFiles
May 12, 1985
The body of Glen Pritchett was found in a ditch along a road in Texas. He died from multiple gunshots to the head.
When police started investigating, they found out that Pritchett had a roommate named Eli Stutzman, who was now in the wind.
But before leaving Texas, Eli made arrangements with some friends in Wyoming to watch his son Danny. Eli claimed he was going to try and clear his name in the Pritchett murder.
Eli wouldn?t return for his son for over six months on December 14. When he picked up his son, he said they were heading to Apple Creek, Ohio, to spend Christmas with his family.
When Eli arrived at his family?s house, he didn?t have his son with him. He claimed that Danny had wanted to stay in Wyoming so he could go skiing.
December 24, 1985
The body of a young boy was found wearing blue pajamas alongside a Chester, Nebraska road. There was no way to identify him, so authorities called him Little Boy Blue.
During this time, Eli had written home telling his family that Danny had died and was buried in Wyoming. He told the friends in Wyoming that had watched Danny, that he was fine and attending school in Ohio.
Little Boy Blue Poster via Nebraska State Patrol
The Little Boy Blue is ID?d
In 1987 the Reader?s Digest ran a story about Little Boy Blue, who had been found discarded in a ditch on Christmas Eve 1985.
An Amish woman in Ohio happened to see the story and thought of Danny, her relative she hadn?t seen in years.
Around the same time, the woman who had taken care of Danny in Wyoming saw the same story and contacted police. She was able to provide a picture and a report card that had Danny?s palm print on it. They finally knew who the Little Boy Blue was.
After two years, he was officially identified as Danny Stutzman, who had only been nine when he passed away. Now they started looking for his father.
The Town of Chester, Nebraska
When the Little Boy Blue was found, the whole town rallied together to look after his remains. They provided a funeral where over 400 people attended and gathered money for a headstone.
Searching For the Father
Eli Stutzman would be found in Texas, where he was charged with felony child abuse in the death of his son.
After a full examination, the corner was unable to pinpoint what caused the death of Danny. Eli said that his son had a throat infection and died while they were traveling to Ohio.
Because of the lack of cause of death, Eli was only convicted of concealing a death and abandoning a body. He received 18 months in jail.
While he was being tried for abandoning his son, he was charged with Pritchett?s murder. Eli was convicted and given a 40-year sentence. He only served 13 before he was released.
Eli Stutzman (right) being escorted by deputies via Facebook | Eli Stutzman (left) mugshot via MurderFiles
Unsolved Colorado Cases
Around the same time in 1985, when Eli had killed his roommate and possibly son, two men were killed who were connected to him also.
In Durango, Colorado, David Tyler, and Dennis Sleater, who were friends of Eli?s, were both killed a month apart. Sleater was shot at a convenience store where he worked. Tyler was killed and left in the bed of his truck outside of his autobody business.
Based on their investigation, police believe that Eli Stutzman is their prime suspect in both cases. But they have no physical proof to tie him to either murder.
A Theory To Connect the Victims
Most who knew him believed that Eli killed his wife and son because they weren?t what he wanted. He didn?t want to be a family man and take care of children.
The men he killed, including his roommate Pritchett and the two men in Colorado, were suspected of being lovers of Eli?s. The reasons for their deaths could have been money, an argument, or he was just done with them.
Danny (left) and Eli Stutzman (right) right before Danny was found dead in 1985 | photo via MurderFiles
The Killer Kills Himself
In 2007 Eli was living in Fort Worth, Texas. His neighbors had called the police when no one had seen him for a few days.
When police arrived, they found that Eli dead. An autopsy would show high levels of cocaine in his system and that he was HIV-positive.
The cause of death was a self-inflicted wound to his left forearm, causing him to bleed out.