Tortured, raped, murdered and dumped – three victims one perpetrator: Who was the 1990s Wyoming highway killer?

1990s Wyoming highway homicides victims
Highway homicide victims, from 1991 to 1992. © Image Credit: MRU

At around 4:25 pm on March 1, 1992, truck driver Barbara Leverton pulled into a gas station bay in Wyoming. Sipping her coffee, she glanced at the abandoned garbage bags – or so it looked from afar. But the longer she looked at the place, the more suspicious it became.

Barbara decided to come closer. Her hunch was right. It turned out that what appeared to be an ordinary garbage bag was in fact the body of a young woman. The body was naked and resting on a snow-covered embankment. Terrified, Barbara went to her truck, where she informed other drivers about her finding via CB radio. They informed the police about this transmission, and they showed up at the scene shortly thereafter.

Tortured, raped, murdered and dumped – three victims one perpetrator: Who was the 1990s Wyoming highway killer? 1
© Image Credit: Cateyeperspective | DreamsTime.com (Editorial/Commercial Use Stock Photo, ID:224737545)

The Bitter Creek Betty Jane Doe

Due to the position of the woman’s body, investigators found it had been thrown from the truck, meaning the woman was murdered elsewhere. The autopsy revealed that what she had gone through before her death was gruesome. Bitter Creek Betty Jane Doe (that’s what she was called), she was beaten, tortured, strangled and raped. The immediate cause of death was the puncture of the sphenoid bone. The murderer inserted into one of her nostrils, possibly an ice pick, which penetrated the base of the skull, causing instant death.

Sheridan Jane Doe, Wyoming
Sheridan Jane Doe, found on April 13, 1992, in Sheridan County, WY. Sheridan County Jane Doe is currently unidentified. She was most likely between the ages of 16-23. She was 5’5, and weighed 110-115 lbs. Among her clothes were a white and blue checked midriff shirt, a light blue lacy support bra (size 38C) and Kayo blue jeans (size 5), Her hair was brown, shoulder-length straight to slightly wavy and sun-bleached. She was found 5 miles south of the WY/MT border in a ditch off the side of 1-90. She had likely been murdered in February. She had prior evidence of giving birth and was 10 weeks pregnant in 1992. © Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons | Restored by MRU

The woman was estimated to be between 24 and 32 years old. Its characteristic features were a caesarean section scar, a scar on the left calf, and a rose tattooed on the right breast. On her left ring finger she wore a gold ring that was potentially considered a wedding ring. Investigators found pink underwear and sweatpants next to her body.

Arizona tattoo

Low temperatures at that time slowed down the decomposition of the corpse, so it was in very good condition. Investigators believed that Jane Doe would be identified soon, but this did not happen. The image of the woman was assessed by the public opinion, but unfortunately no one who might know her came forward.

However, it was a success to locate the tattoo artist who had tattooed a rose on the body of the murdered woman. The tattoo parlor was located in Arizona, and his employee remembered her client very well. She testified that she was a hitchhiker who traveled from state to state. This tip shed new light on the matter. The woman must have fallen victim to the one who offered her a ride.

NamUs

In 2011, all information about an unidentified woman was entered into the national database – NamUs, which is a system that collects information and evidence on unidentified persons. It also includes a missing persons database that automatically checks for potential matches. Despite this, so far the woman has not been linked to anyone.

The Sheridan County Jane Doe – the second unidentified victim

In 2012, Steve Woodson created a special task unit made up of the best FBI personnel. Investigators returned to old, unresolved cases with the hope that thanks to the progress of science and technology they could be solved. The first case that the group of investigators began dealing with was the case of Sheridan County Jane Doe.

On April 13, 1992, the remains of a young woman were found in a highway ditch in Wyoming. Due to the advanced decomposition of the body, the woman was unrecognizable. Her age was estimated at 16-21. She, too, was raped and tortured before her death.

Sheridan Jane Doe, Wyoming homicide victim
Sheridan Jane Doe Found April 13, 1992 Sheridan County, WY. Sheridan County Jane Doe is currently unidentified. She was most likely between the ages of 16-23. She was 5’5, and weighed 110-115 lbs. Among her clothes were a white and blue checked midriff shirt, a light blue lacy support bra (size 38C) and Kayo blue jeans (size 5), Her hair was brown, shoulder-length straight to slightly wavy and sun-bleached. She was found 5 miles south of the WY/MT border in a ditch off the side of 1-90. She had likely been murdered in February. She had prior evidence of giving birth and was 10 weeks pregnant in 1992. © Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons | Restored by MRU

Sheridan County Jane Doe died from being hit on the head with a blunt object and then thrown from a moving car. A special task unit launched an investigation by comparing the two cases. It didn’t take long. The DNA on the bodies of both women matched one culprit.

Who was the killer of Pamela Rose McCall?

One year prior to the murders of these two Wyoming Jane Does, on March 10, 1991, Pamela Rose McCall’s body was located in Tennessee, near Interstate-65 Highway.

Pamela Rose McCall
Pamela Rose McCall, murdered on March 10, 1991, Spring Hill, TN. Pamela was 32 years old when she died. She was a hitchhiker that was last seen at a truck stop. She had no permanent address by choice when she died. She was found 100 feet from the Saturn Parkway, west of 1-65 in Tennessee. She was dragged from the interstate and propped up on a knoll. She had been deceased 12 hours when she was found. She was about 10 miles south of where she was last seen. It took a month to identify her body, using fingerprints. She was a mother of a 13 year old, and was 20 weeks pregnant with a baby girl at the time of her murder. She was buried in Deltaville, VA, alongside her mother’s parents. © Image Credit: Public Domain

The circumstances of all the three cases resembled and the DNA tests connected these murders with each others. It is confirmed that all these murders were committed by one single unknown perpetrator.

Suspect

The modus operandi of the killer includes the following details: all three were either pregnant or had a history with childbirth, aged 32 and below, and had brown hair. McCall was strangled; the other Jane Doe was possibly beaten. Sexual assault was also consistently evident in all three murders. Jewelry (if any) and footwear were also missing for each; although Bitter Creek Betty was the only nude victim.

In May 2020, Clark Perry Baldwin, 59, a former long-haul truck driver of Waterloo, Iowa, was arrested and charged with the three victims’ murders, along with that of Pamela McCall’s unborn child. The investigation was based on DNA tests which reveal the clue that Baldwin is linked to these murders.

In the summer of 1992, Tammy Jo Zywicki went missing on her drive from Evanston, Illinois, to Grinnell College in Iowa. She was last seen after her car broke down on an Illinois highway. Witnesses told authorities a man driving a semi-trailer was seen near her vehicle. Tammy’s body was found nine days later in Missouri. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed eight times.

Investigators believe Clark Baldwin may be connected to the killings of several other women, including Tammy. However, Baldwin was later ruled out as a suspect in the Tammy Zywicki case. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Illinois State Police department and the Chicago FBI are conducting the further investigation. (To know more about Clark Perry Baldwin’s personal life read this article.)

Final words

To date, neither the Sheridan County Jane Doe nor the Bitter Creek Betty Jane Doe has been identified. And the cases of all these homicides including the murders of Pamela Rose McCall and Tammy Jo Zywicki have been remained unsolved to this day.

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