Even after the brutal slaying and dismemberment of Monica Lemen, it seemed John Fryman had not had enough of doing the devil’s business. On February 11, 1987, only a few days after killing Lemen, Fryman and his accomplice, Beverly Cox, shot a gas station attendant during a stick-up of the Clark Oil Co., 3660 Dixie Highway, Fairfield. Although the victim, Tammy Sue Rose of Fairfield, would survive the shooting, she would have no recollection of the attack and require months of physical therapy to recover. John Fryman was on quite a roll. The young man who had studied sociology and psychology while in prison, and was only three credits short of graduating college, had fully committed himself to a path of blood and mayhem. “He was a person that does not stand out in any way. A very quiet person,” said a spokesperson for the college he attended. It now seemed the unassuming young man was making an effort to stand out. The big question is why now and why choose such a grisly course of action?
It would be some time before investigators would connect the gas station robbery with the severed legs discovery. In the meantime, detectives learned that Fryman was issuing threats through intermediaries to his former associates. According to Middletown Police Chief Russell Dwyer, John Fryman, Monica Lemen and two unidentified men had paid a visit to a Middletown, Ohio couple the previous month. While the nature of that visit was not revealed, the couple did say that, after the discovery of the severed legs, they were threatened by one of the two unidentified men. “The couple said the man told them he had been in contact with John Fryman and he indicated they should be afraid of him. The man told them in the same conversation that Fryman had talked of the occult and black magic,” said Chief Dwyer.
It isn’t difficult to imagine that an interest in the occult and demonology could have been what bound this group together. Family members and friends of both Fryman and Lemen agreed that the two shared an interest in the occult. That knowledge coupled with the revelation that Fryman circulated black magic threats to group members, could lead one to conclude that this was a group dabbling in dark occult practices. Did Fryman enjoy some kind of power or status within the group? Did the quiet young man who went almost entirely unnoticed in the everyday world feel emboldened by the dark forces inhabiting his spiritual one?
On Thursday, February 19, John Lee Fryman and Beverly V. Cox were arrested at around 4 p.m. along U.S. 40 outside of Richmond, Indiana. Fryman was wanted for questioning in the disappearance of Monica Lemen, and Cox was carrying a .22 revolver in her purse for which she had no license. The gun would later be identified as a match to the weapon used to shoot Tammy Sue Rose. The pair were picked up by an Indiana Conservation Officer and a Wayne County (Indiana) Sheriff’s Deputy, who had been told to be on the lookout for Fryman’s 1980 Ford Pinto station wagon.
Fryman and Cox were taken into custody and questioned by authorities in Indiana. The morning after their arrest, Indiana State Police Detective Reginald Brewer testified in Wayne County Superior Court that the pair had admitted killing Monica Lemen during interviews with state police Thursday evening. A source familiar with the hearing, none other than presiding Judge Harry H. Holtsclaw, told The Indianapolis Star, “They (Indiana State Police detectives) intimated they had confessions, and the car was used for transportation of the body parts.” The judge granted the ISP request to search the Pinto, and Fryman was held on a charge of aggravated murder while Cox was charged with complicity to aggravated murder. According to “an informed source,” Monica Lemen “was shot in the head at the mobile home in Fairfield.” No word on whether the informed source was the honorable Judge Holtsclaw. With that, the devil worshiping duo promptly waived extradition from Indiana and were transferred to the Butler County Jail in Hamilton, Ohio.
Naturally, of pressing concern to investigators in Ohio was the location of the rest of the remains of Monica Lemen. Based on information provided by the suspects, authorities undertook a massive search of a Colerain Township, Ohio landfill. According to Fairfield Police Chief John Rednour, the legs were severed “as a matter of logistics.” The corpse was too large to fit in John Fryman’s Ford Pinto station wagon, so the legs were removed and the torso deposited in a dumpster owned by Rumpke Waste Inc. The dumpster had since been emptied, but authorities were able to determine that the refuse had been deposited in the landfill near Cincinnati. With the aid of landfill employees, police were able to locate the area of the landfill where the dumpster’s contents had been deposited. For days, police and refuse workers sifted through trash in search of the body. Backhoes scooped up yards of waste to be spread out and examined. Searchers periodically checked the dates on discarded newspapers to make sure they were searching through refuse that corresponded to the date the dumpster was emptied. After three days of searching “daylight to dusk,” frustrated investigators halted their efforts. “It was just too massive,” said Fairfield City Manager Robert Gerhardt, who added that all involved felt bad that they couldn’t locate Lemen’s remains for the sake of the family.
On Tuesday, February 24, Fryman and Cox were arraigned in Fairfield Municipal Court with Judge James E. Walsh presiding. Fryman was charged with aggravated murder and Cox with complicity to aggravated murder. In a document filed with the court, police said Fryman admitted killing Monica Lemen and Cox admitted helping him. The judge ordered a preliminary hearing for the following Friday to determine whether the case would be bound over to a Butler County grand jury. Investigators confirmed their belief that Monica Lemen died of a gunshot wound to the head, reiterating their contention that she was not killed as part of a satanic ritual.
On Friday, February 27, Beverly Cox testified for three hours in front of a special session of the Butler County grand jury. In exchange for that testimony, and contingent upon her testifying at Fryman’s trial, Cox was granted “transactional immunity,” according to her attorney Ronald Craft. “What that means is that she will not be prosecuted on the offense of complicity to aggravated murder,” Craft said. The following Monday an indictment was filed in the Butler County Common Pleas Court charging John Fryman with aggravated murder and gross abuse of a corpse. The murder charge included specifications of kidnapping and use of a firearm, opening the door for a potential death penalty sentence should he face conviction. The indictment charged that Fryman “with prior calculation and design” killed Lemen and “did treat the human corpse of Monica Lemen in a way that would outrage reasonable community sensibilities.”
Prosecutor John Holcomb seemed satisfied with Beverly Cox’s cooperation, and in remarks to reporters stated she had no involvement in the actual murder. “Her testimony against the defendant was vital. Our study of the evidence showed that Beverly Cox was present when the events occurred, but wasn’t a party to it in that she was hiding in the closet.” Nevertheless, Cox remained held in the Butler County jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond to ensure her testimony in the upcoming trial. “What she was probably more guilty of than anything would be an obstruction of justice type charge,” Holcomb continued. “We thought it was in the interest of justice to have her tell her story of what really happened. It will all come out at the trial.” Fishing for shocking details, reporters asked if allegations of devil worship had been discussed during Cox’s testimony. Holding his satan cards close to his chest, the sly prosecutor simply smiled and said, “Does a bear live in the woods?”
Perhaps sensing he was being sold down the river Styx, a desperate John Fryman attempted to clear the air regarding the allegations that were piling up against him. In a telephone interview with the Cincinnati Post, Fryman claimed Indiana police had coerced a confession out of him. Describing the interrogation following his capture, Fryman said he “refused to talk to them until they jumped in my face and decided they wanted to bruise me up slightly. Then I just kind of nodded my head to everything they said.” Fryman also maintained that “extenuating circumstances” led to the death of Monica Lemen, and that the full story was not being told. “There’s a lot of things that haven’t been said. There’s a lot of things involved that nobody seems to be following up on.” What those “things” were, Fryman didn’t elaborate. However, Fryman did address the allegations of satanism. “All the satanism thing they blew all up, all the evidence they supposedly have – they don’t have anything.”
While maintaining that charges of satanism had been blown out of proportion, Fryman freely admitted to more than just a passing interest in the occult. “I am involved with the occult. I think everybody knows that. You don’t have a room like that in your trailer if you’re not. But I wasn’t involved in it to the extent they’re saying.” Fryman also implicated Monica Lemen as a fellow occult practitioner, saying she had recently brought over friends interested in deviant forms of the occult and satanism. Regardless of the extent of his occult dabblings, Fryman’s protestations accomplished little in shifting the blame away from himself. Commenting on Fryman’s charges of police coercion and abuse, Fairfield Police Chief Gary Rednour referred to the allegations as a “bunch of baloney.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Dayton Daily News
The Indianapolis Star
The Indianapolis News
The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana)
The Brookville Democrat
Franklin County Historical Society