Killer on the road: why mass murderers haunt US highways


When the US embarked in the 1950s on the construction of the 42,795-mile National System of Interstate and Defence Highways, Americans applauded.

The Interstate system was seen as the road to the future, representing prosperity and driving US economic growth by fostering mobility.

But before the concrete was even dry, the Interstate was also being connected with violence. The nation's murder rate jumped in the 1960s and 1970s as criminals also took advantage of the greater auto-mobility that it fostered.

Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate's murderous multi-state rampage; Ed Kemper's attacks on Interstate hitch-hikers; and the highway murders of truck-stop prostitutes, all contributed to a public perception that the highways were frightening and haunted by murderers and rapists.

In her book Killer on the Road, author Ginger Strand traces the link between the Interstate system and highway killers and describes the uneasy relationship Americans continue to have with their roads.

Produced for the BBC by Tracy Sutherland.

Pictures courtesy University of Texas Press and AP.

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