The sole heir to the family business Otis Schaeffer was a man ruled by his oppressive mother. His every thought was designed to escape her relentless criticism. Upon her death in 1972 the young man walked away from their home place never to return. He took up residence in a vacant room of the sawmill and casket factory he had inherited and under his guidance the Schaeffer factory grew successful. Otis expanded and hired many new employees, including several family members. Despite the factory’s dismal working conditions and haggard appearance the pay was quite good and his crew turned a blind eye to Otis’ strange ways. It soon became apparent however that something in the community wasn’t right. Since his mother’s death several months earlier neighborhood pets near Schaeffer’s business had steadily vanished; and that wasn’t all. It seemed that travelers from the interstate had often last been seen at a nearby exit or rest stop before mysteriously disappearing. Not only that; but Otis or members of his close family and workforce had often been seen conversing with the visitors shortly before their disappearance.
A few of the family were tried and convicted but several, along with Otis Schaeffer were found to be mentally unfit to stand trial for their crimes. They were sentenced to spend their remaining days in Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville KY where they still remain, sparing Schaeffer. The ringleader disappeared from the treatment facility in 1986 in a presumed escape. He has not been seen or heard from since.
Schaeffer’s bizarre and suspicious behavior soon earned him a closer look by local law enforcement. When he was arrested on a public intoxication charge in a nearby town in 1976 state police took the opportunity to come in and question him extensively on two of the missing person’s cases; but without substantial evidence to charge him he was released. Schaeffer quickly returned to his sanctuary and began filling orders but his short time in custody had made him paranoid and within days he had fired his entire work force excluding his family. A flurry of tips began to come in from the discharged workers and police soon had ample evidence to search the factory. What they found shocked the community to its core. Schaeffer had apparently been savagely murdering and dismembering travelers for many years but since being discharged from jail he had torn through the small town with a violence beyond compare. Seven travelers and four locals had been abducted, tortured, and murdered in the two weeks since his release. The casket factory was a grisly scene. Dismembered bodies littered the floor and neighbors’ remains lay next to one another decomposing in the sawdust.