Truck driver linked to several slayings pleads not guilty in Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An Illinois truck driver who police say is connected to killings in Suwanee and cities in several other states pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a Nashville murder.

In July, police arrested Bruce Mendenhall and charged him with criminal homicide in the death of Sara Nicole Hulbert, 25. She had been found dead with gunshot wounds on June 26 at a truck stop along Interstate 24 in Nashville.

Also in July, Suwanee police announced that Mendenhall may be linked to the murder of Debra Ann Glover, 43, whose body was found behind the Motel 6 on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road on Jan. 29.

Mendenhall pleaded not guilty in Hulbert's murder on Wednesday by video arraignment, his attorney Jason Gichner said. Gichner had no other comment on the proceedings.

Mendenhall has also been charged with murder in Lebanon, about 25 miles east of Nashville, in the death of Symantha Winters, 48, of Nashville.

Her body was found shot and stuffed in a trash can June 6 at a truck stop in that town.

A police detective had gone to the Nashville truck stop on July 12 to conduct a follow-up interview in the investigation of Hulbert's death.

When he got there he saw a truck fitting the description of a vehicle that was spotted the night before Hulbert's body was found. The detective said the driver, Mendenhall, appeared nervous when being questioned and granted permission to look inside his truck.

Mendenhall was taken into custody when the detective spotted what appeared to be blood in the cab, police have said.

Police in Birmingham, Ala., have also filed murder charges against Mendenhall in the death of 44-year-old Lucille "Gretna" Carter.

Investigators there said she was shot with a .22-caliber weapon and dumped nude next to a trash bin on a service road. She was found July 1 with a plastic bag over her head and duct tape around her neck.

In Indiana, police are investigating whether Mendenhall was involved in the death of 31-year-old Carma Purpura, who was last seen July 11 at an Indianapolis truck stop. Police hope a DNA test of blood on clothing found in Mendenhall's truck will determine if it is Purpura's.