Investigators look to industry to help find trucker

Saturday, August 28th 2004, 4:23 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Authorities have turned to the trucking industry to help locate a truck driver wanted for questioning following the death of an Oklahoma City prostitute.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has received hundreds of tips from Texas, Mississippi, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and other states since the man's description was released Aug. 12, but still have not located the man, spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.

The man, whose name is not known, was described as a slender black male who is 5-feet-7 and has two gold teeth and a Jamaican accent. Along with his description, OSBI released a sketch of a banana yellow tractor-trailer that Taddemika McHenrey, 23, was last seen entering before she was found dead Aug. 7 at a rest stop east of Hydro. The truck has chrome accents and a Tasmanian Devil drawing under the sleeping compartment.

Brown said the man is not a suspect.

``We're looking for him to help us with her murder,'' Brown said. ``Her murder is possibly _ underscore possibly _ related to some other prostitute murders, but he's only a person of interest.''

Authorities are working to determine whether McHenrey's death is linked to the killings of about 10 prostitutes in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Indiana. Many of the women, killed by strangulation or a blow to the head, were last seen at truck stops and most of their bodies were found along major trucking routes.

Investigators have contacted Internet sites and publications associated with truckers, such as the industry newspaper The Trucker, to help spread word about the investigation. Jerry Breeden, a reporter for The Trucker, said the newspaper put the information on its Web site this week, but had already been receiving phone calls before then.

``We put fliers everywhere truckers go _ truck stops, restaurants there at truck stops, fueling stations,'' Brown said. ``We've talked to hundreds of truckers. We've talked to prostitutes out at truck stops.''

Brown said people are on the lookout, but word isn't reaching law enforcement soon enough.

``The lead that's gonna help us is the one that comes immediately,'' Brown said.

People who encounter the truck should copy down the license tag number on the front of the truck and that state's Transportation Department number on the driver's side, then call 911, she said.

Brown said the OSBI is also working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to spread information about the other prostitute slayings through the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, a national database that allows law enforcement agencies to compare cases in their jurisdictions to other cases across the country.