Serial Killer Truckers Terrorize U.S. Highways: Inside Their Chilling Crimes

 June 12, 2024

In the book 'Long Haul: Hunting the Highway Serial Killers,' Figliuzzi details how numerous truckers use rest stops, motels, and roadside restaurants to find their victims.

Daily Mail reported that Bruce D. Mendenhall, a long-haul truck driver from Illinois, was apprehended in Nashville, Tennessee, presenting a terrifying glimpse into the reality of highway serial killings. Bruce Mendenhall’s capture in Nashville highlighted an alarming trend of serial killers operating as long-haul truckers.

Evidence Discovered in Truck Links Mendenhall to Multiple Brutal Murders

While stationed at a truck stop, Mendenhall was approached by law enforcement, who discovered damning evidence in his truck. The discovery linked him to the brutal murders of multiple women, including items like a rifle, latex gloves, and bloodstained clothing.

Among these chilling finds were possessions belonging to Carma Purpura, including her mobile phone and bank card. The sinister environment inside his truck cab hinted it might have been the scene of her murder, although her body remained undiscovered for years.

Samantha Winters and Sara Nicole Hulbert were similarly victimized, found dead under circumstances that pointed directly to Mendenhall. The patterns and evidence led to his conviction for their murders and accusations regarding several other victims.

Chilling Insights into the Predatory Habits of Killer Truckers

This case sheds light on a broader and deeply concerning issue. Authorities estimate that hundreds of serial killers like Mendenhall use the anonymity of truck driving to carry out and conceal their heinous acts.

In particular, the FBI's Highway Serial Killings Initiative, led by Catherine DeVane, attempts to trace these crimes across the interstate labyrinth, particularly noting I-40's frequent association with such incidents. Her team uses both forensic evidence and behavioral analysis in their investigations, making connections that might otherwise go unnoticed in the transient world of highway travel.

Frank Figliuzzi, in his book "Long Haul: Hunting the Highway Serial Killers," describes these predators' methodologies, emphasizing their ability to strike and vanish with terrifying ease. Figliuzzi explains, "They kill and move on, all but untraceable."

Understanding the Dark Subculture of Highway Crimes

Dr. Celia Williamson sheds light on another angle, highlighting the complex subculture of truck-stop prostitution. She provides haunting descriptions and safety tips aimed at protecting those most vulnerable.

Former Assistant Director of the FBI, Frank Figliuzzi, details the emotional detachment of these criminals, quoting serial killer Dellmus Colvin, who chillingly said, "I always sleep well at night."

This detachment and lack of remorse are consistent with the psychological profiles discussed by authorities. Catherine DeVane echoes this sentiment, linking their motives to a disturbing desire to control life and death, to own the power of determining fate.

Protecting the Most Vulnerable

Dr. Williamson emphasizes practices for survival, particularly for those involved in truck-stop prostitution. She suggests strategies for self-defense, including positioning near the vehicle door for a quick escape and keeping hands free for self-defense.

Catherine DeVane discusses the emotional and psychological triggers of these killers, stating, "Some men want to 'control life and death,'... They need to 'feel the this power of controlling the outcome."

As alarming as Mendenhall’s case is, it is a crucial reminder of the ongoing risks on our highways. The intertwined issues of transient criminal activity and vulnerability exploitation demand vigilant attention and robust law enforcement response.


Bruce D. Mendenhall's arrest not only ended his spree of terror; it underscored the persistent threat of serial killings by truckers across the U.S. His case symbolizes a larger narrative explored in law enforcement’s troubling engagement with highway serial crimes, where the mobility of suspects creates unique challenges in tracking and apprehending these perpetrators. The efforts of specialists like Frank Figliuzzi and initiatives such as the FBI’s Highway Serial Killings endeavor continue to shed light on these dark highway tales, striving to make the roads safer for everyone.

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