A mysterious string of deaths in and near some San Antonio truck stops has the attention of local police, not to mention truck drivers
whose routes take them through that part of Texas.
So far, authorities are not sure what caused five of the six
deaths, and they don't know if they are somehow related.
In the past four weeks, five people have been found dead in
the cabs of parked semis in the area. A sixth body was found at a motel near a
The first bodies that were found were those of 35-year-old
Harry Ackroyd and his 32-year-old common-law wife, Michelle. They were
discovered in the sleeper berth of their truck on Nov. 1 at the Petro Stopping Center on Ackerman Road in San Antonio.
David Martinez, manager of the Petro, said police told him
they suspected carbon monoxide poisoning may have caused those two deaths,
although the medical examiner's office declined to speculate.
According to the San Antonio
Express, another body was found Nov. 20 inside a semi at a truck stop in
the 11390 block of I-35 South near Fischer Road. The Express reported
that medical examiners later said Robert Monroe, 69, had died of heart disease.
On Thanksgiving morning, the body of Byron Gonzales, 42, was
found in the cab of his truck at the Petro on Ackerman, the same truck stop
where Harry and Michelle Ackroyd died three weeks earlier. Bexar County Medical
Examiner's Chief Investigator Jimmy Holguin said that similar to the Ackroyds,
there was no sign of trauma. Holguin said toxicology reports could take up to
12 weeks to complete.
The weekend after Thanksgiving brought the discovery of
another body. According to Texas media reports, the body of a 62-year-old man
that was found in a motel room adjacent to the Petro on Nov. 26 appears to be
"a different kind of case" from the others. Clifton Frank Lee was a diabetic
who had pneumonia and had left a hospital against doctor's orders.
The most recent was Hubert "Ray"
Hardesty, a 53-year-old trucker from Laredo who drove for an Alabama company.
The driver's decomposing body was discovered at the Flying J on Nov. 27.
A spokesman from Watkins Trucking
Co. told Land Line Magazine that the company dispatched Hardesty from Laredo on Nov. 14. He was due to arrive in Decatur, AL, on Nov. 20. Hardesty was expected
to spend Thanksgiving with family members in Birmingham, but he did not show
up. When relatives contacted the trucking company, management at Watkins tried
to contact Hardesty but was unable to find him.
The family filed a missing persons
report on Nov. 24.
Hardesty was found in the Watkins
truck on Nov. 27. Watkins doesn't track its vehicles with a geographic
positioning system but uses cell phones instead. The company's spokesman said
it was like "finding a needle in a haystack" and they had to rely on the work
of the police.
Sgt. Gabe Trevino of the San Antonio police said the
investigation was focusing primarily on the deaths of the four truckers. While they
don't have toxicology reports back yet, Trevino told "Land Line Now" on XM
Satellite Radio that in the meantime, a number of possibilities are being
- By Sandi Soendker, managing editor
Staff writer Reed Black contributed to this report