Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate

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University of Texas Press, Apr 4, 2012 - History
3 Reviews

Starting in the 1950s, Americans eagerly built the planet’s largest public work: the 42,795-mile National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Before the concrete was dry on the new roads, however, a specter began haunting them—the highway killer. He went by many names: the “Hitcher,” the “Freeway Killer,” the “Killer on the Road,” the “I-5 Strangler,” and the “Beltway Sniper.” Some of these criminals were imagined, but many were real. The nation’s murder rate shot up as its expressways were built. America became more violent and more mobile at the same time.

Killer on the Road tells the entwined stories of America’s highways and its highway killers. There’s the hot-rodding juvenile delinquent who led the National Guard on a multistate manhunt; the wannabe highway patrolman who murdered hitchhiking coeds; the record promoter who preyed on “ghetto kids” in a city reshaped by freeways; the nondescript married man who stalked the interstates seeking women with car trouble; and the trucker who delivered death with his cargo. Thudding away behind these grisly crime sprees is the story of the interstates—how they were sold, how they were built, how they reshaped the nation, and how we came to equate them with violence.

Through the stories of highway killers, we see how the “killer on the road,” like the train robber, the gangster, and the mobster, entered the cast of American outlaws, and how the freeway—conceived as a road to utopia—came to be feared as a highway to hell.

 

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This is about the American interstate system and serial killers. Interstates foster the mobility that permits serial killers to escape and hide. The highway also lets them prey in the first place ... Read full review

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I haven't read the book yet but as a college educated truck driver I would like to add my observations of the industry.
There are so many areas of this country that makes the disposal of a body
rather simple. Out West we have abandoned mines within easy reach of a truck. Don't suppose that a truck is restricted to freeways. Nevada has many out of the way roads that trucks can go on as I have done in the performance of a past job.
Middle states have plenty of places to hide bodies. It would be simple for the type of serial killer that does it for personal gratification as like Ted Bundy they don't care to advertise but to hide their crimes. They aren't crying for help.
There have been cases involving bodies being disposed along the interstate in Nevada; the I80 serial killer (unknown). The I10 killer (unknown) through the south involving Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, and other southern states; I95 snipers in Florida.
Believe that the Serial Killer is out there and the freeways make it easy for them to spread their terror.
 

Contents

Introduction Killer on the Road
1
1 What a Mean World This Is
14
2 Forklift
54
3 The Cruelest Blow
86
4 American Isolato
128
5 Driveby Truckers
168
6 A Prayer for the Body Buried by the Interstate
208
Sources and Acknowledgments
227
Index
244
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About the author (2012)

Ginger Strand is the author of Inventing Niagara, a Border’s Original Voices choice, and Flight, a novel. Her nonfiction has appeared in many places, including Harper’s, OnEarth, The Believer, and Orion, where she is a contributing editor. She grew up mostly in Michigan and now lives in New York City, but spends a lot of time on the road.

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