Why Do Truck Stops Get Such a Bad Rap? – Ashley H

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If you browse true crime forums long enough, you will find an endless number of posts about truck stops. A lot of people associate truck stops with drug trafficking, human trafficking, theft, sex work, kidnapping, and murder. When somebody goes missing, some posters jump straight to the theory that a truck driver must be responsible.

On some true crime forums, truck drivers are broadly misaligned as the most common perpetrators of crimes, including murder. But if you read the stories, you will find that truck drivers are often the victims of truck stop crimes too. Reports in Northwest Indiana include truck drivers being hijacked at gunpoint and even duct taped inside their trucks.

Of course, there is something to the notion that truck stops carry increased risk of danger. For example, police received 2,400 complaints about the Flying J in Beaverdam near Lima on the I-75 since 1999. Of those calls, about 400 were deemed serious crimes.

If you read the posts on forums meant for truck drivers, you get a different perspective on truck stop crime. There are truck stops even most drivers do not want to stop at. For somebody like me who knows very little about truck driving, reading these forums is enlightening and interesting.

But is there any evidence that truck drivers are linked to increased crime? To many people, the truck represents a mobile crime scene, especially for sex workers who may frequent truck stops. The FBI has also established connections between long-haul truckers and serial killings. But what does this all mean?

John Robert Williams killed a sex worker named Buffie Rae Brawley who solicited him at a truck stop. She was found in 2004 in a parking lot about 10 miles away from Indianapolis. He later claimed that he killed more than 30 others.

Bruce Mendenhall, a truck driver, killed a woman named Sara Hulbert in Kentucky. He also killed another woman in Nashville. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Of course, this is not an indication of the fact that most truck drivers you come across are deranged murderers. Most people who stop at truck stops are not the victims of crime, and most do not commit crimes. The illusive nature of truck driving as an industry continues to strike fear, even if it is generally unwarranted.

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