Woman's Body in Crittenden County May Be Linked to Possible Serial Killer

FEBRUARY 20, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:30pm

SHEARERVILLE, AR - Investigators believe a body found in Crittenden County may be linked to a string of murders across four states.

A postal worker found Margaret Holmes Gardner's body off of the west-bound on-ramp to Interstate 40 at the 265 mile marker in Shearerville on July 11th, 2003.

"Usually that doesn't happen out here," said Ray Pendley, a worker at Boles Grocery - a store located south and across the interstate from where the body was found.

Investigators said the 47 year old victim was from Memphis, and was last seen at a truck stop in West Memphis. A truck driver is what authorities believe could link her death to at least 9 others.

Pendley explained, "There's a lot of traffic. The interstate stays full of you know trucks, and the highway in front of the store here is usually you know pretty loaded with big trucks too."

Gardner's body is the only one that's been found in Arkansas. Six women were discovered in Oklahoma, and the other two bodies were in Texas and Mississippi.

Now authorities in Tennessee are trying to determine if two women killed there more than two years ago are victims of the same suspected serial killer; leaving residents along I-40 a bit on edge.

"Just concerned for everybody around here you know," added Pendley.

Investigators believe most of the women were either drug users or prostitutes. They were found nude or with little clothing on their bodies. The Tennessee women were found in a similar state in a wooded area. Authorities said they were last seen at a bar that's popular with truck drivers.

The possible Tennessee link along with Margaret Gardner's body being discovered has forced Ray Pendley to raise his guard.

He admitted, "Whenever I get ready to leave the store, or something, I've been watching more, you know, and I get here by myself early in the morning, about 5:30, and you know I watch around more closely."

Arkansas State Police Troop D Investigator Dale Arnold is overseeing the Gardner case. He'll join city, county and state authorities involved with that and the other cases, along with FBI agents, in Oklahoma City on February 27th for a meeting. They'll plan on sharing information they have in hopes of getting a better idea of who the killer might be.