Truckers Talk About Arrest In Connection With Truck Stop Murders

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - An arrest of one of their own for murder causes truckers in East Tennessee to look over their shoulder more often.

Police arrested 56-year-old Bruce Mendenhall at a Nashville truck stop.
He's charged in the murder of a woman at the same truck stop last month, but police say he's confessed to killing five other women across the south and Indiana.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy has the story.

Trucker Johnny McCullough knows truck stops can be a dangerous.

"I tell my wife when I leave I'll see you if I can, if I don't, I'll see you in heaven," McCullough said.

But he never expected this. A fellow trucker, 56-year-old Bruce Mendenhall, arrested at a Nashville truck stop, charged with shooting Sara Hulbert to death. Police say he's confessed to killing five other women across the south.

"It's getting to be a sad situation out here," McCullough said.

Sad and scary for the part-time pastor, full-time trucker because his precious cargo isn't just in the trailer. He's traveling with his grandson.

"You pick a well lighted spot in a place that looks protected when you pullover. I don't just pullover anyplace," McCullough said.

Because even at this truck stop outside Knoxville, the 30-plus year trucker never knows who's pulling up in the next cab.

"You have to watch your back, front, everywhere you go," McCullough.

When they park their wheel at the truck stop, it's not just their fellow truckers that raise concerns, but everyone filling up their tanks.

"If someone wants to get inside your truck, then they just broke the glass and point you with a gun or something, and they've got you there. What are you gonna do?" trucker Polo Arrendondo said.

And truckers worry Meddenhall's arrest won't do much to improve the their-already-questionable image.

"We usually have a bad reputation for the way we look. We don't take showers too often," Arredondo said.

Cross-country drivers say truck stops have been their safe haven.

"They usually look out for alot of the customers that come in," driver Karen Haltiner said.

But now, nerves may keep them in the car.

"You hope for the best, but expect the worst," Haltiner said.

For McCullough, that hope comes in the power of prayer.

"I pray for these people and my heart goes out to their families," McCullough said.

Because it's his family he's go to protect on the road.
The truckers we talked to say there's a "don't care" among truckers right now. As for Middenhall, he's being held without bond. He's expected to have a preliminary hearing Wednesday. His truck's impounded with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Truckers and drivers like you and me say they fill up their tanks or rest at truck stops because they feel they're safer. The stops are usually well-lit and bustle with customers well into the night. Now, they're not so sure.


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