INDIANAPOLIS -- Larry Eyler's family and friends say police have accused the young man of murder because officers cannot solve a series of sex-related slayings that has frightened the homosexual community.
'He believed all he would have to do is go in and tell the police the truth and that would be the end of everything,' Eyler's sister Theresa, 32, told the Indianapolis Star.
'Well, you can see where that got him. They wanted to make an arrest and they didn't care who it was.'
A similar opinion was offered by Eyler's male lover, who declined to give his name.
'He has an almost childlike innocence about him,' the lover said. 'You should see him around Christmas. He watches all the old movies ... His favorite is 'The Bells of St. Mary's.
'The fact is that Larry trusts everyone,' the lover said. 'He is non-judgmental. He is ready to give anyone the benefit of a doubt.'
Eyler, 30, has been indicted for the death of Ralph Calise, 28, of Chicago, and has been called a suspect in a string of 20 homosexual murders in Illinois and Indiana. A detective with an Indianapolis task force investigating the murders predicts Eyler will be linked to at least 13 of them.
Eyler's lover said was asked to testify that Eyler owned a knife. Eyler's trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 19.
'We seldom talked about the knife,' the lover said. 'Larry knew I had a problem about that. I can assure anyone that he had it for fishing. He loved to fish.'
A knife, two pairs of handcuffs and boots with apparent bloodstains were among Eyler's personal belongings that were seized by police and sent to an FBI laboratory for testing.
Eyler's mother, Shirley DeKoff, says she is sure her son is innocent.
Mrs. DeKoff told the newspaper her son was unable to call her for a week when he was first named as a suspect in the Calise case.
'There was no phone where he was living,' she said. 'He said he didn't call me for a week because he thought it would be over with and he would have good news for me.
'When he called, he broke down and cried and said, 'Mother, I didn't do it.''
Ms. DeKoff said police are trying 'to blame Larry for everything that they can't solve.'