COLUMBIA, S.C. --
Long-haul trucker John Boyer's gray beard and round face give him a grandfatherly appearance, but when he opens his mouth, he seethes with anger toward women. This hatred had murderous results, authorities said, as he picked up prostitutes around the Southeast, killed them and dumped their bodies near interstate highways. He's accused of at least three slayings and is suspected in a fourth.
Boyer has pleaded guilty to killing a woman in North Carolina. He faces murder charges in slayings in Tennessee and South Carolina and authorities said he confessed to both of those crimes. The similarities of the cases and the apparent lack of remorse from Boyer have investigators encouraging their counterparts along highways around the Southeast to review unsolved killings and missing person files. Even his own attorney in the North Carolina case felt uneasy around him and wondered what else he might have done.
"I think there are a lot more. There's no telling. This guy traveled all over the country. Hopefully we'll get more of these cases solved through DNA," said detective Scott Smith of the Hickman County, Tenn., sheriff's office.
In the case Smith investigated, Boyer picked up 25-year-old prostitute Jennifer Smith in April 2005 and brought her to an abandoned parking lot just off Interstate 40. The two argued over money, and Boyer strangled the victim with the seat belt of his truck, dumped her body from the cab, and drove off, the detective said.
Her body was found in 2005 by a highway worker, but it took two years for investigators to match DNA found on her body to a sample Boyer gave after pleading guilty in North Carolina. Boyer confessed to the killing after investigators cornered him with the evidence, but he also went on a tirade against women, said Smith, who's not related to the victim.
The investigator was chilled by the hatred toward women from a man who had never been married and lived with his mother near Augusta, Ga. A woman who answered the phone Friday at a listing for Boyer's mother denied knowing him.
Darlington County, S.C., Sheriff's Capt. Andy Locklair immediately got the same impression when he stepped into an interview room to question Boyer about a killing in that state. The first thing Boyer said to him was: "What b---- are you here about?"
Locklair confronted Boyer earlier this month about the death of 34-year-old Michelle Haggadone. Her body was found in April 2000 beneath pine straw at a parking area on Interstate 20 near Florence, about 30 miles from the truck stop where Boyer had picked her up.
Boyer immediately denied killing Haggadone, lashing out at Locklair and an investigator with him.
"He said he had slept with a lot of prostitutes and a lot of them were detectives' daughters or prosecutors' daughters," Locklair said. "He just tried to get the upper hand from the start."
The captain added: "I'm not a behavior science expert, but he has some deep, deep issues with women."
Haggadone was strangled with a wire or cord after the two argued over the price of her services, authorities said. Her body went unidentified for a decade, until a DNA sample from a relatives matched a sample from her body.
Investigators had no DNA evidence to go on, but Locklair and another investigator realized several aspects of the crime, like what the victim was doing and where and how she was killed, matched the earlier slayings linked to Boyer. Without physical evidence to back him into a corner, Locklair decided he would try to draw a confession by gaining Boyer's trust. He told Boyer about his father, who also was a truck driver, then started trapping him in his lies.
Locklair's case and the one in Tennessee will take some time to resolve. Boyer will be taken to Tennessee to face a first-degree murder charge after his North Carolina sentence ends. He is going to face a murder charge in South Carolina, but Locklair isn't sure when he might end up in court because of the other two cases.