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Shocking new book sheds light on the hidden world of serial killers among truckers – 2oceansvibe News

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A new book by author Frank Figliuzzi is triggering a whole new dimension of paranoia among crime fans and drivers: It claims that long-distance truck drivers are the number one profession for serial killers.

The book describes it as “part of a larger sociological phenomenon that is hiding in plain sight.” Long Haul: Hunting serial killers on the highwayis an unpleasant but fascinating read.

Figliuzzi, a former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), wrote the book after learning of at least 850 murders along America's highways over the past few decades. More than 200 of these cases are still active and unsolved, although the FBI has a list of about 450 suspects.

The crisis was so shocking that the FBI set up a special unit, the Highway Serial Killings (HSK) Initiative. But Figliuzzi, his old investigative instincts kicking in again, wanted to know more.

“What fascinates me is that all these subcultures are literally under our noses,” says the 61-year-old. “We drive on our highways every day. These trucks are right next to us.”

“We have this American myth about the truck driver. They're very much lone wolves, very isolated, but to many people they're a mystery.”

Figliuzzi drove more than 3,000 kilometers in a truck to get to know the subculture from the inside. He slept in the top bunk of the sleeper cab and sometimes cooked his meals in the cab – which he happened to share with a truck driver who was an accomplished cook but gave up the job because driving was more lucrative.

“I was impressed by the modern trucker,” says Figliuzzi. “If this young man, 26 years old, is the future of trucking, we're in a good position: He was intelligent, hardworking and had people skills – he spent much of his time in the truck chatting with friends and colleagues on his headset. That's a good thing, and I dedicate my book in part to the stalwart American trucker. I make it clear that we're talking about a tiny fraction of the truckers who give other truckers a bad name.”

But as Figliuzzi notes in his book, it is mentally and physically demanding work that is often boring and lonely and can have a serious impact on the driver's mental health.

“Depending on the type of transport, there is little or no human intervention.”

This isolation led him to ask the obvious question: Does the job of long-distance truck driver attract sociopaths, or are sociopathic tendencies exacerbated by the stresses of the job?

“A certain personality type may be attracted to long-distance travel because of their personality, because it is an isolation and they are perfectly comfortable with the isolation and lack of contact with others.”

“Is it an opportunity for them to commit crimes, even murders, largely undetected and get out of here before anyone finds out? Yes.”

His book is not only about trucking, but also about the subculture of sex trafficking. His research led him to two experts: Celia Williamson from the University of Toledo and Dominique Roe-Sepowitz from Arizona State University. “These two professors taught me what to look for in the commonalities in the backgrounds and lives of victims of human trafficking.”

Figliuzzi interviewed several women who had survived violent encounters with truck drivers and found commonalities regardless of their backgrounds.

Just as it would be wrong to assume that all truck drivers fit a single demographic profile, victims of human trafficking do not fit stereotypes regarding class and privilege.

“I have put my prejudices and biases aside here because many people believe: 'I don't know any young woman in my circle of acquaintances, my family, my friends who is at risk of falling into the human trafficking trap. That's not going to happen here.' I'm telling you, that's wrong and I've been corrected in my research.”

One of the most chilling stories is that of Robert Ben Rhoades, known as the “Truck Stop Killer.” Rhoades was a truck driver who built a torture chamber in the back of his semi-trailer and kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed up to 50 alleged victims over at least 15 years before he was caught and imprisoned.

After diagnosing the problem in his book, the author offers solutions. For example, trucking companies should better screen their drivers, give them more rest time, and close loopholes that make it easy to fake the annual physical exam. He advocates making tracking devices mandatory in all trucks, even those of smaller companies.

If you drive on the N1 between Johannesburg and Cape Town, you're likely to pass hundreds of trucks along the way, so if you want to increase the paranoia of a long-distance trip, you can find Figliuzzi's book here.

So be warned, this is not light bedtime reading.

[source:guardian]