FBI on the prowl for Road Killers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

FBI on the prowl for Road Killers

By Janice Broach - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A new initiative by the FBI could put the breaks on highway serial killers, a disturbing crime pattern that leads right back to the Mid-South.

In 2004, investigators detected a pattern between the bodies of murdered women and truck drivers along the I-40 corridor.  Tractor trailer drivers cross this country everyday - thousands of them in the Mid-South - and one of them may be a killer.

Somebody dumped the body of Gloria Barnes of Memphis behind a truck stop in Springfield, Missouri 12 years ago.  Sergeant Allen Neal is working with the FBI's new Highway Serial Killer initiative to find the suspect.

It's an initiative that may connect the dots to other  highway murders across the country.

"The manner of death, along with physical evidence that was located at the crime scene, is consistent with some of the other cases that we've looked at that are involved with this initiative," Neal said.

The initiative maps out more than 500 murder victims, most of them prostitutes and transients, whose bodies were discovered along or near highways.

The map is then paired with crime tips on more than 200 potential suspects - predominately truck drivers.
  
One of the first tips about Gloria Barnes murder came from someone in Springfield, Missouri who was listening to a CB radio and heard a trucker bragging that he had just killed someone.  Then came a crime stoppers tip about the truck. It had the world Graceland on the side and a picture of Elvis."

"I believe somebody knows something," said Ernestine Greene, Gloria's mother.  "Gloria was a very loving, caring, family person."

Donald Oakes with the West Memphis Police Department says a trucker may be responsible for the murder of Gwendolyn Barnes - no relation to Gloria - whose body was dumped in Crittenden County in 1998.

"We found clothing articles that belonged to her all the way back to the Hernando DeSoto Bridge where her clothing had apparently been thrown out as they were traveling down the highway," he said.

Gwendolyn Barnes was last seen walking in the area of Third and Vance in Memphis.  Police had picked her up several times for prostitution.  Now they believe a trucker may have picked her up and killed her.

"This one is an absolute mystery," Oakes said.

FBI analysts are studying at least 12 highway killings in the Mid-South, and it's the case of a woman named Jennifer Hyman that may have launched the initiative.

Hyman's nude body was discovered under a railroad bridge on Highway 7 near Oxford, Mississippi in 2003.  Long haul trucker Robert Williams and his fiance Rachel Cumberland were charged with killing Hyman and several other women along I-40.

They are just two of what the FBI says are hundreds of possible truck-driving serial killers who now have investigators and people like Gloria Barnes' mother staring back in their side-view mirrors.

"We're never ever going to give up," Gwendolyn Barnes.

So far, 10 suspects in at least 30 murders have been arrested, including a trucker in Tennessee.  And just this week, the man charged with murdering Jennifer Hyman in Oxford was charged with the 2003 murder of a woman in Texas.

You can learn more about the FBI's Highway Serial Killers initiative and listen to an interview with an FBI special agent working the cases, by clicking on the links below:

To learn more about the FBI's Highway Serial Killer initiative, click here:
http://www.fbi.gov/page2/april09/highwayserialkillings_040609.html

To listen to an interview with FBI Supervisory Special Agent Mike Harrigan, click here:
http://www.fbi.gov/inside/archive/inside040909.htm

To learn more about the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, click here:
http://www.fbi.gov/hq/isd/cirg/ncavc.htm#bau

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