An Iowa trucker was charged this week in the killings of three women in Wyoming and Tennessee in the 1990s.
Authorities say he has ties to Missouri: Clark Perry Baldwin, 58, once lived in Springfield, and investigators are examining whether there are possible connections between Baldwin and an Iowa college student whose body was found, stabbed to death, along Interstate 44 in Lawrence County in 1992.
Springfield Police Department Public Affairs Officer Jasmine Bailey told the News-Leader Friday, "Investigators are aware of this recent arrest and are looking into it to see if it could be connected to any unsolved SPD cases. Right now it's too soon to know if Baldwin could be considered a suspect in any case."
The News-Leader also reached out to the Greene County Sheriff's Office Friday and has not yet heard back.
Baldwin was taken into custody Wednesday at his Waterloo, Iowa home after investigators linked his DNA with semen and other materials recovered from the Tennessee and Wyoming victims.
Baldwin was charged with two counts of murder in the 1991 Tennessee killing of 32-year-old Pamela Rose McCall and her unborn fetus. McCall was born in Iowa and had family there, according to a 1991 Virginia newspaper obituary.
Baldwin was also charged in the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in 1992 roughly 400 miles apart in Wyoming. The women, who were never identified, are referred to as "Bitter Creek Betty" and "I-90 Jane Doe." Authorities determined the Interstate 90 victim was pregnant, like the victim in Tennessee.
The news was previously reported by the Associated Press and the Des Moines Register, which like the News-Leader is part of the USA TODAY Network.
Suspect once lived in Springfield
Baldwin has ties to Springfield that include federal charges.
He graduated from an Iowa high school in 1979 and worked as a truck driver for most of his career, living in Nashua and Waterloo, Iowa; along with Springfield.
In 1997, the News-Leader reported that a 36-year-old Baldwin, then living in Springfield, was indicted on counterfeiting charges, along with two female associates listed as having no fixed address.
A source told the Secret Service that Baldwin had been producing fake cash on his desktop computer, leading to a search of his apartment on Oct. 28 of that year. Federal authorities seized 23 fake currency images on paper, along with computer hardware including a scanner, hard drives and 63 media-storage diskettes; plus a printer and a paper cutter.
When Baldwin was arrested a few days later, authorities found 87 counterfeit $20 and $100 bills among his personal items, the News-Leader reported on Nov. 14, 1997. He was charged with two counts of possession of fake currency. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and released in 1999, according to reporting by the Associated Press.
Commercial genealogy database led investigators to Baldwin
Tennessee reopened the McCall case in April 2019, and using DNA recovered from the crime scene, authorities were able to create a DNA profile of the suspect.
When put into a national database, the DNA came back as a match for a suspect in the two unsolved homicides in Wyoming.
Investigators zeroed in on Baldwin after finding DNA in commercial genealogy databases of a relative's profile, court documents show.
"A list of people that were possibly related to the suspect was obtained from these publicly accessible DNA databases," court records say. "Investigative genetic genealogy was conducted which provided investigative leads, which indicated that Clark Perry Baldwin was the possible suspect."
Last month in Waterloo, Iowa, the FBI secretly collected DNA from Baldwin's trash and a shopping cart he used at Walmart — and it matched the profile.
"The same DNA that we had at our three murder scenes was on those items that Mr. Baldwin had touched," said Brent Cooper, attorney general of the 22nd Judicial District in Tennessee.
Baldwin was arrested May 6 at his apartment in Waterloo's historic Hotel Russell-Lamson.
Jarius Jackson, 31, has lived in the 90-unit building for almost three years. He told the Des Moines Register that Baldwin was quiet and kept to himself.
“He doesn’t say hi," Jackson said. "I’ve never seen him talk at all, that’s the weirdest thing about it.”
A Lawrence County connection?
Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation Commander Matt Waldock told the Associated Press that investigators were "hopeful" they can solve other cases with Baldwin's arrest.
One case of interest is the 1992 death of Tammy Jo Zywicki, 21, a college student who was last seen after her car broke down on an Illinois highway. She had left Evanston, Illinois on the way back to college in Grinnell, Iowa.
A white man who was driving a semi-trailer was seen near her vehicle. He was described as between 35 and 40 years of age, over six feet tall, with dark, bushy hair.
According to online postings by the FBI, Zywicki's body was found Sept. 1, 1992 alongside I-44 in Lawrence County. She had been stabbed to death.
Other cases investigated
Another case being investigated is the 1992 killing of Rhonda Knutson, 22, a truck stop convenience store clerk in northern Iowa. She was bludgeoned to death during an overnight shift. Investigators have released sketches of two men who were in the store, including one trucker. Baldwin lived in nearby Nashua then.
Baldwin's name also surfaced during a 1992 homicide investigation in Iowa. His ex-wife told police then that Baldwin once bragged about "killing a girl out west by strangulation and throwing her out of his truck," court documents say.
The same year McCall was killed in Tennessee, Baldwin was charged with raping a 21-year-old hitchhiker at gunpoint in Wheeler County, Texas. The Texas woman told police that Baldwin 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.
The charges were dismissed after the state was unable to locate the victim, court documents show.
Wyoming victims not yet identified
In Wyoming, a female trucker discovered the body of the first victim in March 1992 near the Bitter Creek Truck turnout on Interstate 80 in southwestern Wyoming, according to court records. An autopsy determined the woman suffered head trauma consistent with strangulation, and her body had likely been in the snow since October 1991, according to court records.
A month later, Wyoming Department of Transportation workers found the partially mummified body of a pregnant woman in a ditch off Interstate 90, near Sheridan in northern Wyoming.
An autopsy did not determine the cause of death but found the victim had an injury consistent with suffering a blow to the head.
Both women were believed to be in their late teens or early 20s, according to court records.
Progress is being made to identify the women, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation Commander Matt Waldock said. Personal effects were removed from the bodies of all three women, court documents said.
Modern investigation techniques helped authorities
Authorities said law enforcement often uses DNA and mobile phone records in today's investigations. Advances in technology made this possible.
In 1991, identifying victims and suspects was much harder, said Waldock, the state investigation commander in Wyoming.
"Obviously, these happened over 20 years ago," he said. "Plus, science wasn't what it is today."
As of Thursday, Baldwin was still being held at the Black Hawk County, Iowa jail, pending extradition proceedings to Tennessee. After the proceedings in his Tennessee case end, Baldwin will be extradited to Wyoming, Waldock said.
"I don't know what the legal definition of a serial killer is, but we feel strongly he's responsible for multiple deaths," Waldock said. "Obviously, other cases are still under investigation."
Detectives with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are “looking at any connections” that Baldwin may have to cold cases from that era, special agent Mike Krapfl told the Associated Press. Other agencies were scrutinizing Baldwin given that he traveled the country, Krapfl said.
“Obviously, there are several cases that need to be followed up on,” Krapfl said.
The Des Moines Register, which like the News-Leader is part of the USA TODAY Network, contributed to this report, along with the Associated Press.
Gregory Holman is a reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and consider supporting vital local journalism by subscribing. Learn more by visitingNews-Leader.com/subscribe.