How serial killer Clark Baldwin's trash helped FBI link him to brutal slayings of pregnant women in 1990s
Investigators have finally closed decades-old cold cases involving the murder of three women, two of whom pregnant, in Wyoming and Tennessee after they connected a long-haul trucker from Iowa to the slayings via DNA evidence.
Clark Perry Baldwin, 58, came into the crosshairs of the police after the Spring Hill Police Department contacted criminal investigators with the 22nd Judicial District Attorney's Office and asked for assistance in reopening an investigation into the 1991 murder of 33-year-old Pamela Rose Aldridge McCall.
Her death was discovered on March 10, 1991, at approximately noon when the police department responded to a report of a body located in Saturn Parkway at the off-ramp for Port Royal Road.
McCall's remains were located at the wood line approximately 100 feet from Saturn Parkway adjacent to the westbound lane, and she had torn clothing, undergarments, and obvious injuries to the face and neck.
An autopsy later revealed she had been killed by strangulation and was 24 weeks pregnant at the time of her death. Her unborn child did not survive the incident either.
Evidence and witness statements from the time indicated that she may have been traveling with a truck driver a the time of her death.
DA Investigator Tommy Goetz submitted evidence recovered in 1991 to the TBI Crime Laboratory for DNA analysis and obtained a full DNA profile of a white male as a suspect in the murder.
That profile was then submitted to the CODIS DNA database, where it resulted in a match to DNA recovered at two more unsolved homicides in Wyoming that had occurred in March and April of 1992, just over a year after the McCall murder.
Both those homicides were similar to the McCall one, leading investigators to believe that they were looking for a truck driver as a possible suspect.
The bodies of the victims in Wyoming were found roughly 400 miles apart, and to this day, remain unidentified. A female trucker had discovered the nude body of the first victim, named 'Bitter Creek Betty,' near the Bitter Creek Truck turnout on Interstate 80 in southwestern Wyoming in March 1992.
An autopsy determined she had suffered head trauma consistent with strangulation, and that her body had likely been in the snow for weeks.
A month later, workers from the Wyoming Department of Transportation found the partially mummified body of a pregnant woman in a ditch off of Interstate 90, near Sheridan in northern Wyoming. She had suffered an injury potentially consistent with suffering a blow to the head and was named 'I-90 Jane Doe.'
McCall's killer's DNA, obtained from sperm recovered from the pantyhose she was wearing at the time of her death, was ultimately found to match the DNA from the two homicides in Wyoming.
This resulted in investigators from DCI Wyoming and the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s office teaming up and working simultaneously on the cases, as well as state and federal agencies like the ATF, FBI, US Secret Service, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations assisting.
They zeroed in on Baldwin, a trucker who had previously lived in Nashua, Iowa, and Springfield, Missouri, and was a cross-country truck driver for Marten Transport at the time of the murders. Last month, the FBI secretly managed to collect DNA from his trash and a shopping cart he used at Walmart, and it matched the profile of the killer.
On Wednesday, May 6, DA criminal investigators assisted by agents from DCI Iowa, DCI Wyoming, and the FBI, arrested Baldwin at his home in Waterloo, Iowa.
He will be extradited to Tennessee to face two charges of first-degree murder, one count for the murder of Rose McCall and another for the murder of her unborn child. He has also been charged for the two homicides in Wyoming and will face them after the case is resolved in Tennessee.
Investigators have said they will be looking into whether the 58-year-old is responsible for other unsolved slayings as well, especially considering he has a prior criminal history.
Court documents obtained by the Associated Press state that he was accused of raping a 21-year-old female hitchhiker in Wheeler County, Texas, at gunpoint in his truck in 1991. The victim said he 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. It is unclear if he was charged or prosecuted in connection to the incident.
Then, in 1997, Secret Service agents raided his apartment in Springfield, Missouri, after learning that he was making counterfeit US currency on a personal computer. He and two female associates were indicted on counterfeiting charges, and he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Baldwin is said to now be a suspect in 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 and whose body was found in rural Missouri, stabbed to death. A white man who was driving a semi-trailer was seen near her vehicle.
He is also a person of interest in the 1992 killing of Rhonda Knutson, 22, a truck stop convenience store clerk in northern Iowa who was bludgeoned to death during an overnight shift. Investigators had released sketches of two men who were in the store that night, including a trucker. He was in nearby Nashua at the time.
Baldwin is currently being held at the Black Hawk County jail pending extradition proceedings.
"I don't know what the Webster's Dictionary definition of a serial killer is," said Matt Waldock, commander of Wyoming's DCI. "But that's what I'd call him."