A trucker’s random murder puzzles investigators.
Dwayne was killed and then robbed
On November 12, 1988, in Chandler, Oklahoma, an anonymous caller reported a body lying beside a phone booth at a highway rest stop. At approximately 8 PM, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol arrived on the scene. The man had been murdered. Coins were scattered around his body. The dead man was Dwayne McCorkendale, a 27-year-old truck driver and father of twin girls. He had been killed by a single shotgun blast, fired at close range into his back. The apparent motive was robbery.
Joan McCorkendale was shocked when she heard that her husband had been killed for money:
A suspicious woman was seen
“If Dwayne had been killed in an accident, I could have stood it a lot better. It seemed so ironic that he was killed for money, when the last thing a trucker will do is carry… much for that very reason.”
Every day thousands of big rigs travel the highways of America. C.B. radios are their life line to the rest of the world. But for Dwayne McCorkendale, a casual conversation over the air waves may have signed his death warrant. Dwayne’s final run began like any other. On November 10, 1988, he left Detroit, Michigan, on his way to Oklahoma City. Paul Renfrow of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was a lead investigator on the case:
“McCorkendale made a regular run bringing parts to an Oklahoma City automobile plant. We have no reason to believe anything was different that night. He enters the turnpike, he’s given a ticket with time on it. And through that ticket, we’re able to determine that he made no other stops. He drove directly from the turnpike gate to the rest area.”
According to Investigator Renfrow, Dwayne pulled into a Chandler rest stop to call his wife:
“We theorize that someone had been listening to him on the C.B. and actually followed him into that rest area or perhaps he was already there waiting for him. It looked like he was walking up to the telephone, perhaps counting change out in his hands… And was killed as he stepped up to make the call. Whoever was involved in this, killed McCorkendale, just shot him in the back and he was dead before he hit the ground. Then checked him to see if he had any money on him, any valuables at all. So people like that are, to us scary because those type of people in our minds are very likely to do it again.”
A gunshot to the back killed him
The only items missing were Dwayne’s keys and his wallet. Investigator Renfrow estimated that the killer’s take was no more than $25:
“Early on in the investigation, our leads were thin… the agents… started putting notices in the trucker magazines across the United States. And the calls started coming in.”
Within days, several truckers called about a brown Ford Pinto, equipped with a C.B. radio. According to Investigator Renfrow, Dwayne was caught in a dangerous game of cat and mouse:
“At the time of the McCorkendale death, we had reports that the Pinto was driving very erratically on the highway… Trying to cut 18-wheelers off. Then when the truck driver would call them on the C.B., they were abusive. They said leave us alone or we’ll do to you what we did to this other trucker.”
Three weeks later, authorities received a call from another trucker, Ed Heitkamp. He was breaking for lunch at a rest stop when he was approached by a young woman who was acting strangely:
“She was… I hate to say but she looked kind of trashy. I mean it looked like she had been on something. And she was just awful shaky. I kind of tried to reach to get a map. The next thing she’s got her whole front half inside the truck. About that time this brown Pinto pulled up and then she jumped out off the truck and they took off.”
The next day, just thirteen miles south on the same highway, Dwayne McCorkendale was gunned down. Today, authorities are no closer to finding the Pinto and Dwayne McCorkendale’s killer than they were the night his body was discovered. Their only lead is the brown Pinto. The occupants of the car are described as a white male and a black male, sometimes accompanied by a white woman.
Dwayne McCorkendale was murdered doing the thing he loved best. But for him, the freedom of the road ended in one senseless and violent split second.