Authorities in eastern Nevada believe the disappearance of a Reno man back in April may be the work of a serial killer.
As we reported back in April, 86-year-old Patrick Carnes disappeared while driving from Toledo, Ohio to Reno on Interstate 80 in Humboldt County. His Subaru was found abandoned about 20 miles east of Winnemucca. The military veteran was traveling with his dog, Lucky.
Now Humboldt County Undersheriff Curtis Kull says it looks like the car was dumped there since it was on the wrong side of the road for the direction Carnes was going. He says another car was found five years earlier, abandoned in the same spot a month after its driver, Reno woman Judith Casida, disappeared. "She has never been found since."
On the night of April 13th, Carnes was pulled over a few miles east of Wells by the NHP. It was the last place he was seen alive. A dash cam video recording of that encounter shows Lucky's wagging tail in the back seat.
Kull has studied every snippet of the video including a grainy freeze frame shot of a tractor trailer with which Carnes seemed to be traveling in tandem. Carnes even mentioned to the trooper that he was following the trucker to Elko, and then he said something prophetic. "I'll never drive at night again."
Interstate 80 is a major artery for the nation, busy with all sorts of traffic during the day but after the sun goes down in the big lonesome, and darkness swallows up the high desert, truckers are pretty much all that you see.
As Kull has searched for Pat Carnes, he's also developed an interest in Grant Moedl of Rexburg, Idaho across the state line. Moedl vanished a month before Carnes did; to the east, Utah authorities are looking for a young man who disappeared in may along I-80 near Dugway and to the west, an elderly hitchhiker vanished in April in that state's Humbolt County.
Is it possible that the trucker who was traveling with Pat Carnes is a killer, even a serial killer, maybe a husband and wife team who somehow gained Carnes trust along the road? "We got into the scenario with truckers. Pat, prior to getting into computers, was a trucker in southern California and had an admiration for truckers, trusted truckers," says Kull.
The Carnes family thinks there could be many more cases out there than anyone knows. "The car was found. How many disappeared with no car, so you don't even know that maybe this is the area where they disappeared. If you don't find the car, if he hadn't got stopped outside Wells, we wouldn't have known he got this far," says son Tom. He along with brothers Jim and Ken have been looking any possible clues since their father's disappearance.
In 2009, the FBI established a task force to look at serial killers working as truck drivers. Since then, the bureau has profiled more than 200 possible trucker killers and more than 500 murder victims, many of them prostitutes. At least 10 suspected serial killers have been arrested, including Chester Todd who was picked up in February in Las Vegas, suspected in a string of rapes and murders. The bureau has a map of possible trucker slayings, including six in Nevada, but, has done little to publicize its task force and did not want to speak on camera. Kull, who has only 15 officers to cover 10,000 square miles, didn't know such a task force existed until he was notified. The bureau is now lending its expertise to the search for Carnes and a possible serial killer in a big rig.
At this point, the truck driver is only wanted for questioning and is not considered a suspect. "There is somebody out there who had to see something. I'm not saying they saw it and are not talking but out of the corner of your eye you saw something and kept going…."
The missing Idaho man and his car have since been found, underwater in a reservoir. Foul play is not suspected.
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