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Trucker suspected of killing at least six women

- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 15, 2007

ALBION, Ill. (AP) — Investigators in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and elsewhere are poring over unsolved murder cases to see if they are linked to an Illinois truck driver suspected of killing at least six women near truck stops in the past year.

Bruce Mendenhall, 56, is charged in one slaying, but police said he gave them incriminating details of five other killings, and authorities are working to prove his involvement.

Mr. Mendenhall was denied bail in Nashville, Tenn., where he was arrested Thursday at the same interstate truck stop where Sara Hulbert, 25, was found fatally shot two weeks ago. Jason Gichner, a court-appointed attorney for Mr. Mendenhall, declined to comment on the case.

Police were hoping more clues would come from a full search of his truck. An affidavit filed Friday by the arresting detective described finding spots of what appeared to be blood on the door, a garbage bag with a large amount of blood inside and blood on Mr. Mendenhall's left thumb.

"At this point in the investigation, we suspect that there was a homicide or homicides after the June 26 discovery of Miss Hulbert," Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said.

Police said Mr. Mendenhall confessed to killing Miss Hulbert and Symantha Winters, 48, of Nashville, whose body was found June 6 stuffed in a trash can at a truck stop in Lebanon, 26 miles east of Nashville. She was fatally shot.

Police said he also described details in four other cases:

•Police in Lake Station, Ind., are investigating whether Mr. Mendenhall was responsible for the fatal shooting of Sherry Drinkard, 43, whose body was found at a truck stop on Feb. 22.

•Indianapolis police on Friday were searching truck stops and surrounding fields south of the city with helicopters and canine units for a missing body, but have been unable to match Mr. Mendenhall's information with any unsolved murders.

•Police Capt. Clyde Byers in Suwanee, Ga., said Mr. Mendenhall is being investigated for the killing of Deborah Ann Glover, 43, of Atlanta, who was found dead Jan. 29 in a motel parking lot in that town.

•Birmingham, Ala., police Lt. Henry Irby said his department is looking into whether Mr. Mendenhall is connected to the July 1 fatal shooting of Lucille Carter, 44.

Nashville police said they were contacted by several other law-enforcement agencies nationwide seeking details to determine if Mr. Mendenhall could be connected to unsolved crimes in their areas, police spokesman Don Aaron said.

The backgrounds of the women Mr. Mendenhall is suspected of killing were not known, but the two Tennessee victims both had criminal records in Nashville. Miss Hulbert had faced a few minor charges, while Miss Winters had faced at least one charge for prostitution

Illinois State Police searched Mr. Mendenhall's house Friday in Albion, in southeastern Illinois. The small white house surrounded by cornfields had been roped off with police tape since Thursday.

Residents in the town were shocked and recalled Mr. Mendenhall as a peculiar, but seemingly harmless neighbor.

"Everyone's in disbelief that we had an individual living here like this," Albion Mayor Ryan Hallam said Friday.

The mayor said Mr. Mendenhall — married with two grown children — was "a little different" from other people in town.

"He didn't mix well with the others around him, but we never had any problems with him," Mr. Hallam said.