Posted on 3/26/18

Truckers, at times, take a bad rap. Truck stops are considered seedy and have a reputation for being high-crime spots. What is more, there is significant talk about serial highway murders that indict truckers as killers. Despite all the talk, truckers, like anyone else, are innocent until proven guilty.

Rhoades Case

Ben Rhoades is currently serving a life sentence in Illinois with a concurrent life sentence in Texas. After many years, the police linked him to several deaths along I-45 in various states. He preyed on many victims, mostly females who were in their teens and were hitchhiking. Pundits list him as an example of a serial killer on the highway.

Difficulty of Capturing a “Highway Serial Killer”

According to experts, catching a highway serial killer is often quite difficult. Pathologists and psychologists tell us that serial killers often work in areas where they live and in which they are comfortable. For truckers who are traveling, such a community is along the highway. For most truckers, the lure of freedom, changing scenery, and the open road brings them to the trucking industry for their livelihood. As such, according to these experts, a highway serial killer has a very large community in which he or she is comfortable operating.

Identifying the victims of such crimes can be difficult, as well, which hurts investigators’ chances of catching the perpetrator:

  • First, an investigator would look for signs by a truck stop to piece together the scene of the crime. A truck stop is a transient area, generally, where people go to buy a soda or use the facilities and then leave. People rarely pay attention to the surroundings in such areas. Therefore, it is hard to obtain eyewitness accounts.

  • Second, many of the victims tend to be prostitutes, who often feel marginalized by their communities and therefore have little contact with neighbors. Therefore, no one would alert authorities if such a victim went missing.

  • Third, the murder weapon and the body are often several hundred miles apart. Due to the transient nature of trucking, a murderer, in theory, can dump the body in one area and the murder weapon in a different area.

The aggregate of these reasons makes identifying victims, even when bodies are found, to be very difficult.

Crime Across State Lines

Another reason why such murders are hard to solve is a lack of cooperation between the authorities. If the Texas Rangers find a body of I-45 in Texas and the authorities in Louisiana find a murder weapon there, the two agencies would have to cooperate to catch the perpetrator. To cooperate, one agency would take the lead while the other would provide logistical and evidential support. Which agency would be willing to take a back seat? Because of the nature of trucking and the likely lack of cooperation between authorities in different states, serial highway murders can be hard to solve.

If you are in the trucking industry and face murder accusations, know that you are innocent until proven guilty. To have an advocate on your side, contact the criminal defense firm of Christopher Abel.

(image courtesy of Orlando Leon) 


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