|This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (November 2010)|
|Born||April 14, 1951|
|Other names||The Prosti-Shooter
The Rest Stop Killer
The Truck Stop Killer
|Number of victims||1|
|Date apprehended||July 12, 2007|
Bruce Mendenhall is a convicted American murderer and accused serial killer. He has been found guilty of the June 26, 2007 murder of Sara Hulbert in Tennessee. He has been charged with the murders of three other women at truck stops in Alabama, Indiana and Tennessee. He is still under investigation for murders in Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Mendenhall grew up in Crawford County, Illinois.
A resident of Albion, Illinois, Mendenhall was arrested at the TA truck stop on Interstate 24 in Nashville, Tennessee on July 12, 2007 after Detective Sgt. Pat Postiglione spotted a truck that matched surveillance footage from the night Sara Nicole Hulbert was murdered at another nearby truck stop. Upon inspection of the vehicle, a large quantity of bloody clothing was found in a plastic sack and Mendenhall was taken into custody. Police catalogued 300 items from the truck including a rifle, knives, handcuffs, latex gloves, several weapons cartridges, black tape, a nightstick, and sex toys. Sampling of these items turned up the DNA of five different women. On August 2, 2007, Mendenhall waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
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. 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, 2007 in 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 jury indicted Mendenhall for the murder of Winters.
The body of another victim killed on July 11, 2007 at a Flying J truck stop on Interstate 465 in Indianapolis, Indiana has yet to be found. Carma Purpura, a 31-year old mother of two, was last seen at the far-southside Indianapolis truck stop. On April 10, 2008, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi charged Mendenhall with murder in the case. 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.
On July 28, police in Birmingham, Alabama charged 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 weapon.
Investigators said Mendenhall was initially cooperative, but subsequently ceased to implicate himself in other murders. 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 6 in Suwanee, Georgia on January 29, 2007. Police are certain that Mendenhall was in Georgia on the day Glover was shot.
- Sherry Drinkard, a prostitute from Gary, Indiana whose 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, Illinois nine days before, after dropping off her brother at Northwestern University.
- Jennifer Smith, a prostitute found nude at a truck stop in Bucksnort, Tennessee in April 2005.
- Robin Bishop, a prostitute who was run over at a Flying J truck stop on Interstate 40 in Fairview, Tennessee on July 1, 2007.
- 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.
While he was in jail, Mendenhall's wife died of natural causes and he came upon some insurance money. He separately approached two inmates with offers to pay them $15,000 to murder the three associates that Mendenhall had fingered for the murders in his original statement to police. One of the murders was to be performed in a "copycat" fashion to lead police to believe the killer was still at large.
For the crime of conspiracy to commit murder he was convicted and sentenced to 30 years.
Mendenhall was also initially accused of solicitation of the murders of the two detectives involved in his arrest and questioning. Those charges were later dropped.
- "Police Try To Link 'Prosti-Shooter' With Indy Slaying". theindychannel.com. 2007-10-10.
- Greg Giuffrida (2007-07-12). "Police: Man arrested in truck stop death". San Jose Mercury News.
- "Homicide detectives arrest suspected serial killer". Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. 2007-07-12.
- "Police: Truck driver spoke of 6 killings". USA Today. 2007-07-13.
- "Suspected Serial Killer Waives Right To Hearing". NewsChannel5.com. 2007-08-02.
- Jeremy Finley (2007-07-31). "Group Suspected Accused Trucker Years Ago". WSMV.
- "Mendenhall Suspected In Bucksnort Murder Case". NewsChannel5.com. 2007-07-27.
- "Truck driver charged in Alabama woman's death". Chicago Tribune. 2007-07-28.
- "Was Silver City woman victim of serial killer?". KOB.com. 2007-07-24.
- Dana Kozlov (2007-07-13). "Confessed Killer May Be Linked To Zywicki Murder". cbs3chicago.com.
- Christian Botorff (2007-07-18). "Trucker gets look in other killings". Tennessean.com.
- Len Wells (2007-07-31). "Cold cases thawing". Evansville Courier & Press.