A truck driver who lives in Lincoln, NE, was arrested earlier this week in connection with the alleged kidnapping and rape of an Oklahoma City woman, police officials confirmed.
Although the crime has some similarities, authorities are saying that the trucker is not a suspect in a string of killings along interstate highways throughout that region, most involving women who frequent truck stops.
The Oklahoma City woman told police she was talking with a truck driver in his truck when he locked the doors. She says the man punched and choked her, and then forced her into the sleeper, where she said he raped her.
After the assault, the woman said, she woke up to find herself on the shoulder of Interstate 35 near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. She was able to get a ride back to Oklahoma City, and then to a local hospital.
After identifying a suspect in the case, Oklahoma City Police located him in Lincoln, NE. Lincoln police took him into custody around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The suspected was identified as Carl Wayne Lawson, 32. Lawson has now been charged in the crime, and officials are attempting to extradite him to Oklahoma.
“This morning, our investigators filed formal charges with DA’s office for rape, kidnapping and assault with intent to kill,” Capt. Jeffrey Becker, a spokesman for the Oklahoma City Police Department, told Land Line. “That’s the first step in the extradition process. … We will be making every effort to return him to Oklahoma.”
Although early reports of Lawson’s arrest listed him as a “person of interest” in a string of murders, Becker said he is not a suspect.
The murders involved a string of women – many identified as prostitutes who frequented truck stops – who have been killed during the past year, mostly in Oklahoma. However, Lawson does not match a description of a possible suspect in one of the killings, and he drives a white Freightliner, Becker said. The truck wanted in the Oklahoma killing is a yellow Peterbilt with a drawing of the Tazmanian Devil, a Warner Brothers cartoon character, on the side.
“He’s not a suspect in those at this point, because there’s nothing specific to tie in with that,” Becker said.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation has issued a notice asking people to be on the lookout for the yellow Pete in connection with the killing of 23-year-old Taddemika McHenrey. The woman’s body was found Aug. 7 in a rest area along I-40 near Hydro, OK.
The person sought in that case is described as a 25- to 35-year old black man, 5 feet 7 inches tall, about 120 pounds, with a medium complexion, a cleft in his chin, and both upper front teeth capped in gold. A witness told police he also had a Jamaican-type accent.
The banana yellow Pete has a Tasmanian Devil decal either underneath the sleeper and/or on the side of the hood. The truck also has a chrome stack, grill and tanks, as well as amber-colored lights covering the top and along the side of the semi.
Anyone who sees the person or truck described by the witnesses is asked to write down the DOT number on the side of the cab and the license tag number on the plate on the front of the semi. Please call the information into the police or to the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation hot line at 1-800-522-8017.
– By Mark H. Reddig, associate editor