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ROCK SPRINGS — Court documents show that a woman found dead near the Bitter Creek truck turnout in March of 1992 likely had been there for several weeks before being discovered.
On Wednesday, 59-year-old Waterloo, Iowa truck driver Clark Perry Baldwin was arrested at his home in connection to two cold-case homicides in Wyoming and two more in Tennessee. All of the alleged murders took place in the early 1990s.
According to court records, the woman in Sweetwater County was found on March 1, 1992 lying face down and naked in the snow about 40 miles east of Rock Springs by an over-the-road trucker. Autopsy results concluded the woman died from trauma caused by a perforated sphenoid bone that penetrated her brain.
The victim was a Hispanic woman between the ages of 24-32, and the autopsy also determined she suffered trauma to her neck, face and jaw before her death. Her fingerprints were sent to all 50 states, but the victim remains unidentified to this day. She has since been referred to as “Bitter Creek Betty” due to the lack of identification.
Sheridan County Similarities
Roughly a month and a half later, Wyoming Highway Patrolmen discovered the body of a white female in a barrow ditch about 15 miles north of Sheridan. Her body was partially mummified, and her level of decomposition prevented forensic pathologists from determining her cause of death. However, trauma to her head showed that she most likely died from blunt force trauma. The autopsy revealed that she was approximately two-and-a-half months pregnant at the time of her death.
The victim also appeared to have been sexually assaulted, but the quality of a DNA swab was not sufficient to enter into the state or national DNA databases. She has never been identified as of this date either and became known as “I-90 Jane Doe” to investigators. Investigators also determined that she was placed at the location of her discovery in February 1992.
Technology Aids Investigations
Thanks to advancements in DNA profiling, original samples taken from both victims eventually made it into both the state and national DNA databases by 2007. A search determined that the same suspect’s DNA was found on both the Sheridan and Sweetwater County victims in 2012. In 2014, further examination of the Sheridan County victim’s skull and mandible at the University of Wyoming determined she was between 17-23 years old.
Fast forward to May 2019 when Wyoming DCI was notified of a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) hit out of Tennessee. A re-opened homicide case from 1991 revealed a suspect’s DNA matching the Wyoming crimes. The Tennessee victim was later identified as Pamela McCall who was found along a road near Franklin, Tennessee on March 10, 1991. She suffered similar trauma to the Wyoming victims. According to the court documents, she was also 20-weeks pregnant.
Genealogy Plays Role
A coordinated effort by Wyoming and Tennessee law enforcement officials that included investigative genetic genealogy, the type used by companies like 23andMe.com and Ancestory.com, eventually led to the arrest of Baldwin.
Investigations revealed that Baldwin was arrested for sexual assault in Wheeler County, Texas in 1991. Baldwin’s ex-wife told investigators that he once bragged about “killing a girl out west by strangulation and throwing her out of his truck.”
A Waterloo FBI task force was able to obtain Baldwin’s DNA samples after going through his trash and swabbing items he’d touched in a local Walmart. Those samples were then sent to the Wyoming State Crime Lab on April 14.
“The male DNA profile obtained from analysis of those items matched the suspect’s DNA in the Wyoming and Tennessee cases indicating that the suspect and Baldwin are one and the same,” according to the court documents.
Baldwin could face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted in Wyoming. It has not yet been determined if he’ll stand trial in Wyoming or Tennessee first.