Police Investigate Possible I-40 Serial Killer - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Police Investigate Possible I-40 Serial Killer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro police released the identity of a woman found dead at a truck stop in East Nashville Tuesday morning.

A security guard found the body of 25-year-old Sara Nicole Hulbert of Ashland City just before 1 a.m. Tuesday morning at the Truck Stops of America on North First Street. 

Officials said Hulbert had been shot.

The discovery has prompted police to consider whether there is a serial killer dumping bodies along Interstate 40. There have been four similar cases in the last two years in Hickman, Williamson, Davidson and Wilson counties.

Investigators were now working to see if there was a link among the cases.

Three weeks ago, an employee at a Pilot truck stop in Lebanon found the body of 48-year-old Samantha Winters. Police said Winters had an arrest record for prostitution in Nashville.

In April 2005, a state worker found the body of 24-year-old Jennifer Smith of Dyersburg near the Bucksnort exit on I-40. Hickman County Detective Jimmy Barnett said the last time Smith was seen alive she was working as a prostitute at a West Tennessee truck stop.

"We do have information to believe there was a white semi here during the time frame that stayed a very short period of time, less than 10 minutes," Barnett said.

Metro police were also looking for a white semi in connection with the most recent case.

"It's too early in the investigation to link these together, but we are going to be talking to other jurisdictions," said Lt. Mike Vondohlen. "We're going to be looking at all the possibilities, and we'll be taking a hard look at that aspect of it."

Officials said in all four cases, the women's bodies were found in areas visited frequently by truck drivers.

The Williamson County case involved a prostitute from Kingsport. Her body was discovered in July at a Flying J Travel Plaza in Fairview off the interstate.

"There have been several cases that we've looked at, several different people that we've looked at, and it's just happening all over the United States," Barnett said.

In the case Tuesday morning, police said the truck stop worker who discovered the body regularly patrolled the property. The area had been checked repeatedly that night.

"They check the fence every 45 minutes or so, periodically throughout the night, and he already checked it once. It gives us a time frame to deal with," said Metro Police Capt. David Imhof.

Detectives said the transient and noisy nature of the truck stop made the crime scene challenging to process.

Police were searching for a man they said was a person of interest. The man was described as a white male in his 40s or 50s, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 200 pounds. He has white hair and glasses.

Police were also searching for a 2000-2001 white Volvo semi they said was pulling a flatbed trailer. The truck has hidden exhaust pipes and was hauling a large tan storage unit.

It was unknown if the person of interest and truck were connected.

Anyone with information regarding the crime should contact the Metro Police Department. 

A serial killer task force meets four times a year to discuss similar murders. The task force meets again in July in Reno, Nev. The murders on Interstate 40 will be one of the topics.

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