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Three women “played dead” while the “Indiana Slasher” stabbed them multiple times, sexually assaulted one of them and left them to bleed out in a cornfield.

The suspect, nicknamed the “Slasher” or “Indiana Slasher,” eluded police nearly 50 years and became a real-life boogeyman of Hancock County.

The survivors — Kandice Smith, then 13, Sheri Rottler Trick, then 11, and Kathie Rottler, then 14 — learned this week they had outlived the man who tried to kill them in 1975.

The “Slasher” was finally identified through genetic genealogy as Thomas Edward Williams, who died in a Galveston, Texas, prison in November 1983 while serving time for unrelated crimes, Indianapolis Police said Thursday.

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“He was hunting,” said Steve Gibbs, a detective with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at the time who has investigated the cold case since 2018. 

“I would hate to use the word professional, but he was a hunter … of victims,” Gibbs told the Indy Star. “Once you’re in his car, it’s like being caught in a spiderweb. There’s no getting out.”

The three girls were hitchhiking to get to an amusement park, but Williams drove past their destination, drove them to a secluded cornfield in Hancock County and bound two of them. 

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They were all trapped in his “spiderweb.”

He raped 11-year-old Rottler Trick and stabbed her three times in the throat and another 15 times in her chest, police said. 

Then he turned his attention to Smith and Rottler, and slit both of their throats. 

Indianapolis police announced Thomas Edward Williams is the "Indiana Slasher"

The “Slasher” left, thinking they were all dead, but Smith and Rottler had enough strength to crawl for help. 

They finally flagged down three passersby, who called 911 and saved their lives. 

One of the first responding officers compared the cuts to the girls’ necks as appearing similar to that of an accordion, the Indy Star reported. 

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“I do forgive this man,” Rottler Trick said during Thursday’s press conference. “I had to in order to continue my life. I hope anybody who’s in this situation can please do the same.”

Smith said, “I’m at peace now.”

Victims of the "Indiana Slasher" and his victims, who survived (front), are surrounded by members of the Indianapolis Police Department.

Retired Indianapolis Police Sgt. David Ellison, from the department’s cold case unit, said during the press conference three samples of DNA evidence recovered from the crime scene pointed to one unknown man. 

The department partnered with DNA Labs International, a private forensic lab that used funding help from media company Audiochuck, which used the latest genetic testing to identify Williams’ son and daughter.

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After nearly five decades, law enforcement had the “Slasher.”

“Today’s announcement is nearly 50 years in the making, but it shows the dedication and perseverance of our detectives and partners,” Indianapolis Deputy Chief Kendale Adams said in a statement. 

“IMPD will hold criminals accountable, no matter how long it takes. While we would like to do this immediately, this may take years and even decades, and we never stop looking for answers.”

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