Cruising With the Whore Cop

Officer Terry Peters knows just about every hooker in town. And they love him--because he keeps them alive.

A call comes over the radio. Spearmint's got a driver. "Gotta go," Peters says. As we pull away, Hillbilly is still talking, telling me that Peters is one of the good ones, a man to be trusted. "You take care of yourself, you hear?" Hillbilly calls out.

We find Spearmint down on the other end of Peterbilt, in the middle of a long row of trucks. He spits when he sees us. He's got the girl next to his car. The trucker is still in his rig.

"Now you asked me earlier what kind of guy would buy these girls?" Peters asks. "You're about to find out."

"Roxy" works a truck stop on Interstate 20.
All photos by Mark Graham
"Roxy" works a truck stop on Interstate 20.
Office Terry Peters listens to Twinkie's story at the Pilot truck stop. Peters--DPD's "whore cop"--talks to truck-stop prostitutes such as this one almost every night.
Courtsey of Grapevine Police
Office Terry Peters listens to Twinkie's story at the Pilot truck stop. Peters--DPD's "whore cop"--talks to truck-stop prostitutes such as this one almost every night.

Spearmint tells the trucker to step out of the cab.

"See what I mean?" Peters asks. "He must weigh 400 pounds."

The man, I will soon learn, goes by Mojo, and he's on his way to Ohio. Originally from New York, he's been a trucker for 14 years. If he's like most of the truckers Peters arrests, he's got a wife at home. As he steps down from the chrome steps of his rig, he hitches up his sweatpants, up over his hairy crack. Besides loneliness, he suffers from a severe stuttering problem. Every other question, he gets stuck on a word. "She was wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-walking by, I called her over, she jumped in, we hid in the back."

Hearing this, the hooker in question, who Peters doesn't recognize, smiles as if this is a lie.

"How often do you get a hooker?" I ask.

"Whenever I get a chance."

"How much do you spend?"

"It de-de-de-de-de-de-depends on how hot they are. High dollar? I might spend 100 bucks. A cheap one's like $20."

The girl tells a different story. They were just talking. Men pay her for that. She's a great conversationalist.

Peters looks up at me. "Can you believe the shit I hear every day?"


Spend any time with Peters and there's one murder he's sure to bring up. Of all the truck stop hookers ever killed, none generated the attention Casey Jo Pipestem did.

She was found January 31, 2004, in a ditch in Grapevine. The crime scene photos are the sort that stick in your mind. The first one was taken from the highway bridge, 32 feet and 7 inches above her body, through the gray branches of a tree covered in frost. In the black of the night, the flash illuminated the naked body, the twisted legs, the dark silky hair fanned out around her head.

The way investigators figured it, she was thrown from the bridge, probably by a trucker who killed her. Eventually, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal police in Seminole, Oklahoma, Grapevine police located her family. They looked at the photos, saw the tattoos and told the police they had seen enough. Yes, that's her, they said, but please, take those pictures away.

They wanted to remember her differently. They wanted to remember the girl who taught Sunday School at the Methodist church, who danced in the traditional ceremonies. They used to call her "Bonez" because she was so skinny. They didn't want to remember her facedown on a creek bed, one foot in the black water.

When did things start going wrong? Maybe when her grandmother died. Maybe when her stepfather was killed in a knife fight. Maybe when she met Kelvin Scott at a party. That was probably it, more than anything else.

First he was her boyfriend, then her pimp. She started using cocaine with him. She started working truck stops. She started calling herself "thugarific" and writing bleak, foreboding lines of poetry. On one occasion, she told her uncle, a trucker picked her up and held her against her will for three days, sexually assaulting her along the way from Oklahoma to Los Angeles. She found her way home, and her family tried to help her, but it was too late.

Barry McLead was one of the last people to see her alive. He ran a truck stop ministry near Oklahoma City. A few days after her body was found, he discovered two notes stuffed in the door of his horse trailer, which he'd converted into a chapel. One read: "Hey Minister, you need to get busy for Jesus and clear the whores out of here." It was signed, "Warning."

From the beginning, investigators thought Pipestem's death could be the work of a serial killer. Other truck stop prostitutes had been found in other states, killed the same way--strangled, beaten, discarded. None of their murders had garnered much attention. Pipestem's death was different. Maybe because it happened so close to a big city, maybe because the media loves stories of serial killers--for whatever reason, the press latched on to the story.

Throughout that spring and summer, the killing continued. Buffie Rae Brawley, a 27-year-old out of Toledo, was found March 24 in the parking lot of a former truck stop about 35 miles out of Indianapolis. Her mouth and nose had been taped shut. "It appears the guy pulled up in a semi--you can tell by the tracks--and tossed her out," the local sheriff told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "She was dead before she hit the ground." She was wearing a shirt and bra when they found her, the sheriff said, and had injuries from bindings around her wrists and ankles. "This guy in my opinion tortured her," he said. "He beat her over the head. There were four distinct trauma injuries to the head that caused 3-inch gaps. This guy didn't care if she was found or not. He ran over her right foot with one of his rear tires. This may have been out of contempt."

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1 comments
AHumanBeing
AHumanBeing like.author.displayName 1 Like

I read through to the end, but I almost stopped reading after page one. What on earth could justify this Spearmint guy talking to Cookie Monster that way?  This woman faces the VERY REAL threat of being brutally murdered, and this thug taunts her about it until she breaks down?  If that is not the cruelest kind of psychological abuse then I don't know what is!  It's sickening to think that there are cops out there who think this is an acceptable way to treat people.

 

The whole tone of the article -- calling these women "whores", joking about one woman's violent death being like "giving head" -- is just so disrespectful.  YES, prostitutes are people and therefore deserve basic respect.  Judge people by their choices by all means, but you before you do, think about what options these people actually had to choose between.  What would you do if your boyfriend got you addicted to crack?  NOBODY chooses to be a truck-stop prostitute if they can possibly help it.

 
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