INDIANAPOLIS -- Larry W. Eyler, suspected in the serial slayings of homosexuals in Indiana, had both gentle and harsh sides to his personality, friends and authorities say.
Detectives assigned to the Central Indiana Gay Task Force to investigate the killings described Eyler, 31, as possessing a 'dual nature.' They said one side was outgoing, helpful and capable of being likeable.
The other side was extremely hostile, according to Jerry Campbell, supervisor of the Indianapolis police department's task force that was reactived last week after Eyler was arrested and charged with the dismemberment slaying of a 16-year-old boy in Chicago.
Eyler, who had residences at one time in both Terre Haute, Ind., and Chicago, is a suspect in as many as 24 slayings in four states - Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky.
Police investigators gathered information -- including gasoline credit card receipts -- that also showed Eyler to be a nocturnal, isolated man who roamed the major highways between Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Chicago from December 1982, when the killings began, until late August 1983.
That information had been used for charges last year that were later dropped after a judge said the evidence was obtained illegally.
Friends among the Indianapolis gay community, who asked not to be identified, told a reporter for the Indianapolis Star they were not surprised that Eyler had worked for two weeks with disabled children at Chicago. He was fired in July from the job where he fed and cared for children in the Augustana Group Home.
'There was always a gentle side to Larry, a part that wanted to help people and to be recognized for that,' said one acquaintance.
Then there was the mean streak.
'Once in a while he would just go off,' said one friend who said he met Eyler at a gay bar in Indianapolis. 'Real weird or something and we just left him alone. Sometimes somebody would get beaten up pretty bad by Larry. Generally, people were afraid of him.'
According to another friend, Eyler said when he was younger that he wanted to be a priest.
Yet another friend discussed a possible motive: 'Larry always had a problem about it (homosexuality). He always had a religious side and would suffer from guilt. All I can thing of is that he was exorcising the demons.'