Metro Police believe “several” of their unsolved murder cases – cases that date back to the 1980s and 1990s – could be linked to Bruce Mendenhall, the suspected serial killer already believed to be responsible for at least a half-dozen truck stop murders of women, including two that occurred in Middle Tennessee this year.
At a press conference today, Metro Police Det. Sgt. Pat Postiglione said the department’s investigation is leading them back some 20 years, to when Mendenhall, 56, of Albion, Ill. first became a truck driver.
Postiglione also said they believe it possible that Mendenhall may have been behind dozens of unsolved murders all across the country, including “several” unsolved murder cases in Nashville.
“[Metro Nashville police] have several. More than two or three,” Postiglione said. “We have unsolved cases that somehow fit the criteria.”
Postiglione arrested Mendenhall after spotting a suspicious truck while investigating the north Nashville truck stop murder of Sara Nicole Hulbert, 25, of Ashland City, whose body was discovered at the North 1st Avenue Truck Stops of America on June 26.
Police said Mendenhall’s cab was found with bloodstains on the doors and that after questioning he admitted to killing Hulbert and five other women in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Indiana.
But now police believe they have just scratched the surface of Mendenhall’s criminal activity. Postiglione is now leading a multi-state and federal case that authorities believe could implement a serial killer who likely has been at work nationwide for nearly two decades.
“Well, he’s been a trucker for approximately 20 years,” Postiglione said in response to questions about far back the 50 – 75 law enforcement inquires that Metro Police have received into how Mendenhall could be linked to additional unsolved murders.
“The circumstances, although not exact, are all similar in nature,” Postiglione said of the cases being described to Metro Police by various local and state police departments from all over. “And geographically they’re all over the country.”
Police are also hoping that within weeks the results of forensic tests conducted on items found in Mendenhall’s truck will yield them further clues.
“We have recovered hundreds of exhibits [from Mendenhall’s truck], said Kristin Helm, spokeswoman for the TBI. “We have a team of forensic scientists and investigators who are working very hard on this case. It is one of our top priorities.”
Neither Helm nor Postiglione would say what evidence was recovered from the truck. But Postiglione did say that what he believed to be blood was part of the TBI’s forensic testing.
“When I first saw it, it appeared to be spots of blood,” he said. “Certainly those samples were taken and they’re being analyzed right now. We should learn the results of that over the next several weeks.”