In the summer of 1953, a criminal sowed fear among truckers across the U.S. after he shot three in the head while they slept, killing two. The crimes occurred along the Pennsylvania and Ohio turnpikes, earning the killer the moniker The Turnpike Phantom.
FreightWaves’ true-crime podcast, Long-Haul Crime Log, delves into this dark chapter in trucking history as well as a comparatively recent unsolved trucker killing in its latest episode released on Wednesday. Join journalists Clarissa Hawes, Noi Mahoney and Nate Tabak for the latest episode, presented by FreightCasts.
1. The Turnpike Phantom
The chilling story of how 25-year-old John Wesley Wable sowed terror among truckers nearly 70 years ago. Wable targeted sleeping truckers. He shot them in the head and robbed them. The crimes became front-page news and sparked a nationwide manhunt. The assailant, who was unidentified at the time, was dubbed The Turnpike Phantom. Tabak recounts the case, and how Wable may not have been as elusive as authorities claimed at the time.
The Turnpike Phantom (New York Daily News)
Second Trucker Slain on the Pike (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via Google News)
1955 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision upholding Wable’s conviction: (JUSTIA)
2. Crime of all kinds rings in 2021
Hawes is investigating the case of a Swift truck driver shot by Missouri Highway Patrol officers, who say he brought a gun to one of their facilities. Mahoney tells the crazy story of how robbers derailed a freight train hauling Volkswagens in Mexico. Meanwhile, cybercriminals take aim at U.S. shortline rail operator OmniTrax in the latest ransomware attack.
Missouri troopers thwart Swift driver’s ‘ambush’ attempt at HQ (FreightWaves)
Train carrying Volkswagen vehicles sabotaged in Mexico (FreightWaves)
Ransomware attack hits short line rail operator OmniTRAX (FreightWaves)
3. The unsolved killing of a trucker
Mike Boeglin was killed in the cab of his tractor-trailer as he waited for delivery of steel coils at a ThyssenKrupp plant in Detroit in 2014. Boeglin had been shot multiple times before his rig was set on fire. Hawes covered the case and has continued following it in the years since. She says the case still haunts her. Investigators pointed to robbery as a motive. An iPad and cell phone were taken, but his wallet with $800 inside was recovered. Boeglin’s wife, Ashley, was pregnant with the couple’s first child.
Widow of murdered trucker seeks answers six years later (FreightWaves)
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