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FBI sets up database connecting trucker suspects and bodies dumped along highways

Today’s Los Angeles Times carries an article by Scott Glover reporting that the FBI suspects that serial killers working as long-haul truck drivers may be responsible for murders of hundreds of prostitutes, hitchhikers and stranded motorists whose bodies have been dumped near interstate highways over the past 30 years.

The FBI has compiled a database correlating information on more than 500 female victims, most of whom were killed and their bodies discarded at truck stops, motels and other locations along heavily traveled trucking routes across the U.S., and information on scores of truckers who’ve been charged with killings or rapes committed near highways or who are suspects in such crimes.

Investigators have speculated that the mobility, lack of supervision and access to potential victims that come with the job make it a good cover for someone inclined to kill.

Of course, it is no more fair to hold that against the reasonably decent 99.999% of truckers who may fudge on their logs but don’t intentionally kill anyone than it is to stigmatize priests and teachers as pedophiles because of the bad acts of a perverted 0.001%.

People with evil intent may be attracted to an occupation that provides easy access to potential victims, but that should not be held against the vast majority who are reasonably decent folks. Some of the victims discussed in the article were truck stop prostitutes whose choices made them especially vulnerable to predators using a truck driving job as a cover to act as serial killers. Of course, it’s never open season on women, even if they are truck stop prostitutes, and the killers should be brought to justice.

I suppose the take-home points of the story are that law enforcement officers now have a useful new tool to help catch serial killers using trucking as a cover, women traveling alone should take all necessary precautions for their safety, and we should guard against unfairly stigmatizing truck drivers as a group.

Ken Shigley is an interstate trucking trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.