Body found in Ky. identified as victim of truck stop killer

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

GLASGOW, Ky. (WKRN) – A body found off the shoulder of a Kentucky highway has finally been identified through DNA evidence.

Kentucky State Police say the victim is Carma Purpura of Indianapolis, Indiana. She was found off Louie B. Nunn Parkway in Barren County, Kentucky, on Aug. 15, 2011. She was initially reported missing on July 11, 2007.

Purpura, who would have been 35 at the time she was found, is thought to have been the victim of a serial killer known as the truck stop killer.

That killer, Bruce Mendenhall, was charged with Purpura’s death and multiple others when blood from at least 10 people was found in the cab of his truck. Police believe he killed at least seven people at truck stops in four different states.

The Metro-Nashville detective who helped crack the case in 2007 spoke with News 2 on Tuesday. Pat Postiglione said he thinks there could be more victims out there.

“When he was arrested in 2007, he was 56 years old,” he said. “If you look back at most serial killers, they start way before the age of 56. I would say probably in your 20s or your 30s, more likely your 20s, so I think in this case I would suspect that there’s going to be more victims out there that are going to be at some point connected to Mendenhall.”

Postiglione said he thinks the earlier victims were probably killed in a different way, by knife or by hand, as opposed to the small caliber rifle Mendenhall used later.

The former detective explained that when there was a murder here in Nashville, he spoke with the FBI and other law enforcement, leading them to connect several homicides. Each case involved girls at truck stops, possibly drug addicts, who would get into trucks.

“Their need for a drug outweighed their fear of getting into the truck with a potential serial killer, and in this case Mendenhall,” Postiglione explained.