Body count up to eight in suspicious San Antonio truck stop deaths

| 12/4/2006

Investigators are still looking into the mysterious string of deaths in and around some of the truck stops in the San Antonio area. Since September, a total of seven bodies have been found in trucks in the area and an eighth body was found in a motel adjacent to a truck stop.

Mainstream media has speculated whether laced drugs are the cause of the recent deaths; however, some truckers have speculated that carbon monoxide built up during truck idling may have caused the deaths.

Recent attention has focused on the unexplained deaths of 35-year-old Harry Ackroyd and his 32-year-old common-law wife, Michelle (McLean) Ackroyd. Their bodies were discovered in the sleeper berth of their truck on Nov. 1 at the Petro Stopping Center on Ackerman Road in San Antonio.

Jerry Levya, an investigator with the Bexar County Medical Examiner's office, said his department is still waiting on submitted toxicology reports to come back, which could take up to 12 weeks and includes any results of carbon monoxide testing.

Wanda Austin, who works in the office of the Bexar County Medical Examiner's office, said Ackroyd was tested for carbon monoxide poisoning; however, McLean's body was not tested for the presence of carbon monoxide.

The body of Robert Monroe Jr. was found in his sleeper berth at the Valero Truck Stop near Interstate 35 South near Fischer Road on Nov. 20. Austin said the report listed natural causes due to heart disease and hypertension as the cause of Monroe's death, even though an autopsy was not performed. She also said a test for carbon monoxide was not performed on Monroe.

"The doctor decided not to do an autopsy based on his age and his medical history - he had a history of hypertension or high blood pressure," Austin said. "The report states that he called his wife the night before and said he wasn't feeling well."

The report also states that the motor was off and that he still had fuel left in his tank.

On Thanksgiving morning, the body of Byron Gonzales, 42, was found in the cab of his truck at the Petro on Ackerman Road, bringing the total to four. The investigation into his death is still pending, although Bexar County Medical Examiner's Chief Investigator Jimmy Holguin said that similar to the Ackroyds, there was "no sign of trauma." An autopsy and a carbon monoxide test were both performed.

The body of a 62-year-old man, Clifton Frank Lee, of Charlotte, TX, was found in a motel adjacent to the Petro on Nov. 26, although Levya said they aren't investigating Lee's case as being connected to the other truck stop deaths. Austin said the police report stated that Lee, who worked as a freight dispatcher, was staying at the hotel for an extended period of time.

Austin said Lee's body was found lying on the floor near the bed and that an autopsy reports that Lee died of natural causes stemming from an enlarged heart. Land Line previously reported that Lee was a diabetic who had pneumonia had left the hospital against doctor's orders.

On Sept. 25, the body of Michael Mooney, 51, of Bettendorf, IA, was found in his truck cab at a TA Truck Stop in San Antonio. He was found face up in the lower bed of his truck cab. His cause of death was ruled as natural causes, stemming from heart disease, obesity and diabetes. A carbon monoxide test was not performed in this case.

The death of Robert Boykin, of Clyde, TX, was also ruled due to natural causes stemming from heart disease. He was found at Mann-Lee LLC, which is a truck parking and storage facility located on Perrin Beitel Road. The investigator's report states he was found in the kneeling position behind the passenger seat just in front of the bed. A carbon monoxide test was not performed in Boykin's case.

- By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer