Trucker charged in serial killings faces scrutiny across US
Investigators from multiple states were looking Thursday into whether a long-haul trucker from Iowa who's implicated in three women's slayings in the 1990s could be responsible for other unsolved homicides.
Officers arrested Clark Perry Baldwin, 58, in Waterloo on Wednesday after new DNA evidence allegedly tied him to three women whose bodies were dumped in Wyoming and Tennessee. Court documents allege that he also raped and choked a woman in Texas in 1991.
Detectives with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are "looking at any connections" that Baldwin may have to cold cases from that era, special agent Mike Krapfl said. He said other agencies were scrutinizing Baldwin given that he traveled the country.
"Obviously there are several cases that need to be followed up on," Krapfl said.
One case of interest is the 1992 death of Tammy Jo Zywicki, 21, an Iowa college student who was last seen after her car broke down on an Illinois highway. A man driving a semitrailer was seen near her vehicle. Zywicki's body was found in rural Missouri.
Another involves Rhonda Knutson, 22, a truck stop convenience store clerk in northern Iowa who was bludgeoned to death during an overnight shift in 1992. Investigators have released sketches of two men who were in the store, including one trucker. Baldwin lived in nearby Nashua, Iowa.
In Wyoming, Baldwin is charged in the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in 1992 roughly 400 miles (645 kilometers) apart. Investigators never identified the women, nicknaming them "Bitter Creek Betty" and "I-90 Jane Doe." In Tennessee, Baldwin is charged with two counts of murder in the 1991 killing of a 32-year-old pregnant woman from Topping, Virginia, Pamela McCall, and her fetus.
A Tennessee crime lab developed a DNA profile of the suspect in McCall's death last year after a cold case investigator submitted evidence for analysis. A check in a national database matched the profile to one that had been developed years earlier linking the two Wyoming deaths.
Investigators zeroed in on Baldwin after finding DNA in commercial genealogy databases of someone related to the suspect's profile, court documents say. Last month in Waterloo, the FBI secretly collected DNA from Baldwin's trash and a shopping cart he used at Walmart and testing revealed that it was a match.
Tennessee District Attorney General Brent Cooper praised investigators for "bringing this serial killer to justice."
"I'm also very happy to be able to give Rose McCall's mother a chance to see justice for her daughter's and granddaughter's murders," he said. "As she put it in a recent phone call, 'At least I have a grave to visit, some moms don't even that.'"
A similar allegation of violence against Baldwin also helped investigators make their case.
Court documents say that Baldwin allegedly raped a female hitchhiker from Kansas in Wheeler County, Texas, at gunpoint in his truck in 1991. The 21-year-old woman told police that Baldwin struck her on the head, bound her hands and mouth and tried to choke her to death. He allegedly admitted to the assault but was released pending grand jury proceedings. Ultimately, he wasn't prosecuted.
Baldwin, who has previously lived in Nashua, Iowa, and Springfield, Missouri, was a cross-country truck driver for Marten Transport.
Baldwin's name also surfaced during a 1992 homicide investigation in Iowa. His ex-wife told police then that Baldwin once bragged about "killing a girl out west by strangulation and throwing her out of his truck," court documents say.
In 1997, Secret Service agents raided Baldwin's apartment in Springfield, Missouri, after learning he was making counterfeit U.S. currency on a personal computer. He and two female associates were indicted on counterfeiting charges. Baldwin was sentenced to 18 months in prison and released in 1999.
Baldwin is being held without bond at the Black Hawk County jail. In a court hearing Thursday, he didn't challenge his extradition to Tennessee, where he is expected to be transferred in coming weeks and eventually face trial first.
The charges stunned Jazz Baldwin, 32, of New Hampton, Iowa, who said she learned two years ago that Baldwin was her father after he purchased a DNA test kit. The two had been in contact over Facebook since then, she said.
"I heard rumors about his 'possible crimes' but always thought they were bogus," she wrote in a Facebook message. "Murder was NOT on the list of things we thought he had done and gotten away with."