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Bruce Mendenhall is an accused Americanmarker serial killer. He has been implicated in the deaths of seven women at truck stops in Alabamamarker, Tennesseemarker, Indianamarker, and Georgiamarker. He is still under investigation for murders in Illinoismarker, New Mexicomarker, Oklahomamarker, and Texasmarker.

Biography

Mendenhall grew up in Crawford County, Illinoismarker.

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.

Arrest

A resident of Albion, Illinoismarker, Mendenhall was arrested at the TA truck stop on Interstate 24 in Nashville, Tennesseemarker 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 near by 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, Mendenhall waived his right to a preliminary hearing, and is expected to return to court in six to eight weeks.

Victims

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, Tennesseemarker. She had a criminal record showing at least one previous charge of prostitution. On August 17, 2007, a Wilson Countymarker grand jury indicted Mendenhall for the murder of Winters.

The body of another victim he admits to murdering July 11, 2007 and leaving in a car at a Flying J truck stop on Interstate 465 in Indianapolis, Indianamarker has yet to be found or identified. Investigators said Mendenhall was initially cooperative but that he subsequently ceased to implicate himself in other murders. On July 28, police in Birminghammarker, Alabamamarker 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 pistol.

Police are investigating the possibility that Mendenhall is responsible for other murders in the region including:
  • Deborah Ann Glover, an Atlantamarker prostitute whose body was found near a Motel 6 in Suwanee, Georgiamarker on January 29, 2007. Police are certain that Mendenhall was in Georgiamarker on the day Glover was shot.
  • Sherry Drinkard, a prostitute from Gary, Indianamarker 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, Illinoismarker nine days before, after dropping off her brother at Northwestern Universitymarker.
  • Jennifer Smith, a prostitute found nude at a truck stop in Bucksnort, Tennesseemarker in April 2005.
  • Robin Bishop, a prostitute who was run over at a truck stop on Interstate 40 in Fairview, Tennesseemarker 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.
  • Carma Purpura, a 31-year old mother of two, who was last seen July 11, 2007 at a Far-Southside Indianapolismarker truck 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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