Ruth Ellen Shelton was born on December 19, 1960, and was 17 years old at the time of her death. Ruth was on the honor roll, and her family said she was incredibly intelligent and driven. She had dreams of becoming a computer scientist. She was attending what is now the University of Indianapolis to earn some early college credits. Ruth also enjoyed music, as she was a member of the Westside Church of the Nazarene choral group.
On November 17, 1978, Ruth and her three co-workers, Mark Flemmonds, Jayne Friedt, and Daniel Davis, were working the closing shift at Burger Chef in Speedway, Indiana. Sometime between 11:45 pm and midnight unknown individuals broke into the Burger Chef restaurant and kidnapped the four employees. Another co-worker, Brian Craine, was originally scheduled to work that night, but had his shift covered by Mark Flemmonds. However, when Brian stopped at the restaurant, he noticed his other coworkers were gone.
The register was left open and it was later discovered that approximately $580 was missing from the register. Brian contacted the police but unfortunately, it was not taken seriously and chalked up to four kids who probably played hooky from work. The restaurant was not processed as a crime scene which would later play a detrimental role in the investigation. The restaurant was cleared to operate as normal for the next day.
On November 19, 1978, the bodies of the four employees were discovered in a rural woods area of Johnson County. Ruth and Daniel were shot execution-style with a .38 caliber. Their manager, Jayne Friedt, was stabbed to death. Mark Flemmonds died as a result of blunt force trauma and asphyxiation. The employees were still in their Burger Chef uniforms.