- Bruce Mendenhall
Infobox Serial Killer
caption=Bruce D. Mendenhall
alias=The Rest Stop Killer
The Truck Stop Killer
April 14, 1951
victims=Unknown (possibly 7)
Tennessee, Georgia, Alabamaand Indiana
July 12, 2007
Bruce Mendenhall is an accused American
serial killer. He has been implicated in the deaths of seven women at truck stops in Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana, and Georgia.cite news |url=http://www.mercurynews.com/natbreakingnews/ci_6362448 |title=Police: Man arrested in truck stop death |author=Greg Giuffrida |date= 2007-07-12|publisher= San Jose Mercury News] He is still under investigation for murders in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Mendenhall grew up in
Crawford County, Illinois.
He was married and has two daughters. Mendenhall never had problems with the law, though his wife Linda, who was reportedly blind from
diabetes, and friends, knew he kept a gun illegally in his truck.
A resident of
Albion, Illinois, Mendenhall was arrested at a truck stop on Interstate 24 in Nashville, Tennesseeon July 12, 2007[cite news |url=http://www.police.nashville.org/news/media/2007/07/12.htm |title=Homicide detectives arrest suspected serial killer |publisher= Metropolitan Nashville Police Department|date= 2007-07-12] after Detective Sgt. Pat Postiglione spotted a truck that matched surveillancefootage from the night Sara Nicole Hulbert was murdered at another truck stop in downtown Nashville.cite news |url=http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-07-13-trucker_N.htm |title=Police: Truck driver spoke of 6 killings |publisher= USA Today|date= 2007-07-13] Upon inspection of the vehicle, a large quantity of bloody clothing was found in a plastic sackcite news |url=http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=6879398 |title=Suspected Serial Killer Waives Right To Hearing |date= 2007-08-02|publisher= NewsChannel5.com] and Mendenhall was taken into custody. Police catalogued 300 items from the truck including a rifle, knives, handcuffs, latexgloves, several weapons cartridges, black tape, a nightstick, and sex toys.cite news |url=http://www.wsmv.com/news/13792102/detail.html |title=Group Suspected Accused Trucker Years Ago |author=Jeremy Finley |date= 2007-07-31|publisher= WSMV] Sampling of these items turned up the DNAof five different women.
Mendenhall's victims were primarily young
prostitutes, usually found shot, though detectives have determined that his method of killing may have changed over the years.cite news |url=http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=6851661 |publisher= NewsChannel5.com|title=Mendenhall Suspected In Bucksnort Murder Case |date= 2007-07-27] During questioning, he implicated himself in the shooting death of Hulbert, whose body was found on June 26, 2007.
He has also implicated himself in the shooting death of Symantha Winters, whose body was found
June 6, 2007in a trash can at a truck stop in Lebanon, Tennessee. She had a criminal record showing at least one previous charge of prostitution. On August 17, 2007, a Wilson County grand juryindicted Mendenhall for the murder of Winters.
The body of another victim he admits to murdering
July 11, 2007and leaving in a car at a Flying J truck stop on Interstate 465 in Indianapolis, Indianahas yet to be found or identified. Investigators said Mendenhall was initially cooperative but that he subsequently ceased to implicate himself in other murders.cite news |url=http://kob.com/article/stories/S147858.shtml?cat=520
title=Was Silver City woman victim of serial killer? |publisher=
KOB.com|date= 2007-07-24] On July 28, police in Birmingham, Alabamacharged Mendenhall with the murder of Lucille "Gretna" Carter, who was found nude in a trash bin with a plastic bag taped around her head on July 1. She was shot with a .22-caliber pistol. [cite news |url=http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/southsouthwest/chi-truckstopjul28,1,2598995.story |publisher= Chicago Tribune|title=Truck driver charged in Alabama woman's death |date= 2007-07-28]
Police are investigating the possibility that Mendenhall is responsible for other murders in the region including:
*Deborah Ann Glover, an Atlanta prostitute whose body was found near a
Motel 6in Suwanee, Georgiaon January 29, 2007. Police are certain that Mendenhall was in Georgia on the day Glover was shot.
*Sherry Drinkard, a prostitute from
Gary, Indianawhose body was found naked in a snow embankment
*Tammy Zywicki, a student who was found stabbed to death on
September 2, 1992. She vanished from Interstate 80 near LaSalle, Illinoisnine days before, after dropping off her brother at Northwestern University. [cite news |url=http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_194232052.html |title=Confessed Killer May Be Linked To Zywicki Murder |author=Dana Kozlov |publisher= cbs3chicago.com|date= 2007-07-13]
*Jennifer Smith, a prostitute found nude at a truck stop in
Bucksnort, Tennesseein April 2005.
*Robin Bishop, a prostitute who was run over at a truck stop on Interstate 40 in
Fairview, Tennesseeon July 1, 2007. [cite news |url=http://tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070718/NEWS03/707180433/1436/business |title=Trucker gets look in other killings |author=Christian Botorff |date= 2007-07-18|publisher= Tennessean.com]
*Belinda Cartwright, a hitchhiker who was run over at a truck stop in Georgia in 2001. A composite police sketch made of the suspect based on information from witnesses bears a striking resemblance to Mendenhall. [cite news |url=http://www.courierpress.com/news/2007/jul/31/coldcasesthawing/ |title=Cold cases thawing |author=Len Wells |date=
2007-07-31|publisher= Evansville Courier & Press]
*Carma Purpura, a 31-year old mother of two, who was last seen
July 11, 2007at a Far-Southside Indianapolistruck stop. On April 10, 2008, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi has charged Mendenhall with murder in the case. The woman's body has never been recovered, but DNA tests link a large quantity of the blood from Mendenhall's truck cab to the woman's parents. Investigators also found her cell phone, ATM card and clothing she wore on the day she disappeared.
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