Body found in 2011 identified as suspected victim of truck stop killer

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kentucky State Police have confirmed the identity of a woman’s body found in 2011. She is believed to have been one of the victims of an accused serial killer known as “the truck stop killer.”

The body was identified as Carma J. Purpura, of Indianapolis, who was 31 years old at the time of her death, according to a media release by the KSP. Purpora was reported missing on July 11, 2007. Her body was found off the shoulder of the Louie B. Nunn Parkway in Barren County.

In 2008, authorities charged convicted murderer and accused serial killer Bruce Mendenhall, a former trucker from Albion, Ill., with Purpura’s murder, after her blood as well as the blood of at least 10 people was found in the cab of his truck in 2008. Police also found Purpura’s ID in Mendenhall’s truck.

Mendenhall, 65, is serving a life sentence for the murder of Sarah Nicole Hulbert as well as 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder in connection with a plot to arrange the killing of Lori Young, and two other acquaintances of his.

Young, who went on to become a trucker herself, spent four days riding in Mendenhall’s truck in 2002, and later moved to Albion and rented a house from Mendenhall. Young testified against Mendenhall during his murder trial. She also recounted her experiences with Mendenhall in a March/April 2010 story in Land Line.

Mendenhall was arrested in 2007 after Nashville Detective Pat Postiglione pulled Mendenhall over at truck stop and noticed blood on his thumb and splattered on the driver’s-side door of his cab. Postiglione also discovered a “large amount” of blood in a trash bag Mendenhall kept behind his driver’s seat. Police later matched a pair of shoes with tread marks left at the scene of Hulbert’s killing. The arrest followed several slayings of young women, some prostitutes, at truck stops in Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois.

Mendenhall was apprehended on July 12, 2007, at a TA truck stop on Interstate 24 in Nashville, where Hulbert’s body was found along a fence. He is believed to be responsible for as many as seven killings in four states. According to reports, Mendenhall is scheduled to go on trial next year on charges of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in connection with the death of another woman, Symantha Winters, whose body was found in a trash can at a truck stop in Lebanon, Tenn., in 2007.

In a July 13, 2007 interview with Land Line, Mendenhall’s former boss described him as “just the meekest, mildest person you’d ever want to run across,” and said he was “a good runner.”

Related stories
Boss describes alleged serial killer as ‘meek,’ a ‘good runner’
Over her shoulder
Jury convicts Mendenhall of murder
Mendenhall sentenced to 30 years for jailhouse murder plot

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