10 Weirdest Truck Stop Stories

Strange Truck Stop Stories

1. County using old statute to fight crime at Texas truck stop

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A county attorney in Harris County, Texas, is using a 100 year old statute to clean up crime riddled areas in the county, including a truck stop that has the reputation of being one of the "worst truck stops in America." Jorey Herrscher is an assistant county attorney in Harris County, Texas. He told Land Line, that a police officer who has worked his whole career in the area of the Key Truk Stop located off Interstate 10 in Channelview, Texas, came to him seeking solutions to eliminate criminal activity at the site.

Herrscher said the officer basically came and asked for help to clean this place up, saying he was sick of seeing this. Since January 2013, Herrscher said that police have been called to the Key Truck Stop at least 54 times, stemming from criminal activity including burglary, robbery, prostitution, possession of cocaine, assault, theft, gambling and credit card fraud. Herrscher said in the past few years the county has been using a largely forgotten statute, which hasn’t been used since the 1920s, known as Chapter 125 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code regarding common nuisances.

Since rediscovering the statute, Herrscher said 28 illegal game rooms and as many massage parlors, motels/hotels and apartment complexes known for criminal activity have been cleaned up or closed in the past 18 months. Herrscher said this is the first truck stop the county has sued to clean up its act. The county has filed a lawsuit against the owner and operator of Key Truck Stop urging them to clean up alleged criminal behavior at the site or face possible shutdown.


2. The serial killer who tortured prostitutes in his trailer

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Sometime on June 25, 2007, 25-year-old Sara Hulbert went to Nashville’s seedy Cowan Street with a pair of guys named Lee and Hollywood. The three scored some crack and smoked it. Then an argument broke out about divvying up what was left. Sara got annoyed and left. Lee figured she was headed for the nearby T.A.—a truck stop with a lively prostitution trade—to make some cash. He watched her disappear between a pair of empty truck trailers. He never saw her again. Somewhere in that row of warehouses, truck washes, and vacant lots, as I-24 roared by overhead, Sara Hulbert climbed into the wrong truck. Around 12:50 in the morning, the T.A. security guard found Sara Hulbert face-up in the back lot, near the sagging fence hookers used for access, a half-inch hole in her head.


3. FBI Says Recordings Expose Jimmy Haslam's 'Jacking The Discount' Fraud At Pilot Flying J

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According to an affidavit the FBI filed in federal court Thursday, gas and convenience store chain Pilot Flying J engaged in fraud for more than five years, and billionaire CEO Jimmy Haslam allegedly knew of the deceptive "Jacking the Discount" scheme.

The court documents rely on multiple sources, including accounts from customers, as well as former and current employees, to describe how Pilot salespeople allegedly underpaid customer rebates in order to boost the company's bottom line and their own individual compensation. The most striking evidence, however, comes from secret recordings of telephone calls and sales meetings in which the fraud seems to be openly discussed by employees as high up as the Vice President of Sales.

The evidence tying Haslam to the fraud is more indirect, although an unnamed Regional Director of Sales who cooperated with the FBI investigation "advised that Rebate Fraud occurred with knowledge of Pilot's current President Mark Hazelwood and Pilot's Chief Executive Officer James A. 'Jimmy' Haslam, III." The affidavit says the illegal activities were discussed at meetings at which both men were present.

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4. The "vampire" trucker who kidnapped, raped, and tortured women in his trailer

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In November 2016, Timothy Jay Vafeades, a 56-year-old truck driver, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping, abusing, and imprisoning six women as sex slaves in his semitrailer. Vafeades had been torturing women for nearly two decades when he was arrested in 2013. He was obsessed with vampires, wore fangs, and even nicknamed his truck the "Twilight Express" after the TV series. He picked up women at truck stops and once in his truck, the madman would beat and brainwash them into submission, going so far as to file down one girl's teeth to fit her with fake fangs. At his hearing, the abuser was remorseful, “I am sorry for my life,” he said. “I am sorry for not recognizing myself and what a monster I am.”


5. Weird Pittsburgh: Truck-stop doctors, apple-juice heists and secular hijinks at the DMV 

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The 58-year-old woman picked him up in a blue Ford Tempo and drove him to her home to perform the physical and did a “protein test” on his urine. Joann Wingate of Carlisle pretended to be a doctor so she could make money giving physicals to truck drivers and testing their urine, according to federal investigators. Wingate, who lost her chiropractic license in 2014, allegedly stole the identity of an actual licensed physician and posted flyers at truck stops, offering the physicals and urinalysis drug tests required by trucking companies. One driver, who responded to a flyer posted at the Blue Beacon Truck Wash in Cumberland County, said that he found it strange that the 58-year-old woman picked him up in a blue Ford Tempo and drove him to her home to perform the physical and did a “protein test” on his urine there. He contacted authorities, leading to the investigation. Wingate even landed a contract with a transportation company, collecting pee from its drivers and sending samples to medical-testing labs, a gig for which she allegedly submitted bogus certifications to the state. The Sentinel newspaper reports that a district attorney has charged her with wire fraud, submitting false documents and aggravated identify theft.

A city council meeting in Farrell, Mercer County, got unexpectedly intense due to an appearance by Lawrence M. “Crusty” Owens, “a man whose been making headlines for years for drug dealing, assault and harassment,” according to The Herald of Sharon (which included his nickname in its report). Owens, 58, took to the podium during the public-comments portion and threatened to “beat senseless” the city’s code-enforcement officer, Mark Yerskey. Owens, who was last jailed on charges of organizing underground “fight nights” of female combatants, lashed out concerning $2,000 in citations for alleged recent loud parties at his property. He claimed the citations are an attempt to get him sent back to prison and said of Yerskey, “He destroyed my family. I will destroy his.” City Manager Michael P. Ceci calmly told the council not to respond to Owens’ outbursts and let him speak until adjourning the meeting.


6. More Legal Troubles for 'Tony' the Truck-Stop Tiger

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A tiger is housed at a truck stop, in Iberville Parish but its future there is the subject of litigation again. 'Tony' the tiger has been there 17 years and the Owner of Tiger Truck Stop, Michael Sandlin, is using every penny to keep him. "I've spent $700,000 so far fighting to keep him safely home,"said Sandlin. Because animal activist feel Tony should not be at the truck-stop. "It's a truck-stop at a major intersection, he has to deal with gasoline smells and a lot of road noise," said Attorney Tony Eliseuson, with Animal Legal Defense Fund. The Animal Legal Defense Fund said the Louisiana Legislature passed a special exemption for Tony's owner.

"For this one tiger and private owner you can keep your tiger," said Eliseuson. Eliseuson said that is unconstitutional, and this week the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a petition in court. "Louisiana Constitution, doesn't allow the Legislature to allow special laws that are designed to benefit a special individual," said Eliseuson. "My response to that is there was a animal sanctuary in North Louisiana called Yogi and Friends," said Eliseuson

Sandlin said he feels they would have been exempt too, if the legislation was left in its original form. He also said Tony is well taken care of and fed well. "50 percent beef, 50 percent horse meat, it's a diet even some zoo's can't afford," said Sandlin. No matter how much diesel he has to sell, Sandlin said Tony won't be going anywhere anytime soon. "As long as god gives me breathe and as long as he provides the means for me to keep fighting I will," said Sandlin.


7. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg met with truckers at the world's largest stop

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In what some see as an attempt to lay the groundwork for a presidential run in 2020, Mark Zuckerberg went on a "listening tour" of all 50 states. The Facebook creator found his way to The World's Largest Truck Stop in Iowa, where he spoke to drivers and addressed the threat of automated driving to their livelihoods.
The possibly out-of-touch billionaire later summed up the discussion by saying, "Everyone I met was skeptical that self-driving trucks would replace jobs. " said Zuckerberg, adding, "From all the research I've seen, I'm confident we'll solve these problems. But it's interesting that people in the industry don't believe this will happen soon."


8. Texan Sentenced For Forcing Daughter Into Prostitution

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A Houston-area man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for forcing his teenage daughter to work as a prostitute. The Harris County district attorney’s office says a 46-year-old resident of Baytown was sentenced Monday after earlier pleading guilty to aggravated compelling of prostitution. Authorities say the man took his daughter to truck stops to offer sex in exchange for money that he then took from her. The girl, who was 16 at the time, told investigators she would have multiple customers in a night. Authorities say the father also placed an online ad featuring his daughter as an escort. He was first arrested in June 2015. The Associated Press is not naming the man because it could identify his daughter, a sex-crime victim.


9. Truck driver found guilty in deaths of 19 illegal immigrants in Texas in 2003 - Americas - International Herald Tribune

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A truck driver was found guilty of all charges and faces possible execution in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants who suffocated in his airless trailer in South Texas in 2003. In a retrial of the nation's deadliest human trafficking case, the federal jury that on Monday convicted the driver, Tyrone Williams, 35, of Schenectady, New York, begins hearing testimony on Wednesday on whether to give Williams the first death sentence under a 12- year-old "alien smuggling" statute or a lesser term of up to life in prison.

The milk trailer, piled with bodies and 55 survivors, was found abandoned at a truck stop near Victoria, Texas, in the early hours of May 14, 2003. Williams, a legal immigrant from Jamaica, sat impassively through 58 recitations of "Guilty" as the verdict form was read, then embraced his lawyer, Craig Washington. Asked afterward how his client had taken the news, Washington, a former Texas congressman, said, "Better than me." Washington, whose trial defense conceded Williams's role as a smuggler but challenged his awareness of the victims' suffering, said he planned to put on about 20 witnesses to testify about mitigating factors in Williams's history.


10. Licking man pleads guilty to Kingdom City arson

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Steven Oakley Price, 41, a Licking, Mo., over-the-road truck driver, has pleaded guilty to setting a series of tractor-trailer trucks on fire in six states, including four arson incidents at a Kingdom City truck stop. On May 11, 2010, a tractor-trailer fire was reported at 9:23 p.m. at the Petro Stopping Center truck stop in Kingdom City. After Callaway County deputies and firemen from the North Callaway Fire Protection District responded to this fire, a second fire was set across the highway at Gasper's Truck Plaza in Kingdom City.

When firemen were diverted to Gasper's truck stop, the third and fourth Kingdom City truck stop fires were set at the Petro truck stop. Security cameras at the truck stops placed Price near the scene of the four Kingdom City fires and investigators began to suspect him. Investigators earlier started to believe the arsonist might be a trucker since numerous other fires had been reported earlier at various widely scattered truck stops around the nation.

Since many truck fleets make use of global positioning system (GPS) technology to keep track of trucks through satellite tracking, investigators decided to use this technology to track the past movements of Price. Price's employer, Tennant Truck Lines of Orion, Ill., uses GPS technology to track its trucks and drivers. GPS data stored in a computer showed one trucker, Price, was present at all of the truck stop fires around the nation.

The next truck stop fire was reported on June 23, 2010. A truck parked at a truck stop in Valley Grove, W. Va., was damaged intentionally and the fire was set in the same manner as the other arson fires. Investigators had been conducting surveillance of Price using GPS data. He was arrested in his truck parked a short distance away from the fire.

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