The Highway Killer - Adam Leroy Laneby Jake Tully - Published: 6/22/2017
In the world surrounding trucking, there are many interesting characters and figures that have operated a big rig or otherwise held a trucking job at one point in time or another.
Some figures in trucking, such as Allie Knight, represent knowledgeable, helpful, and otherwise positive side of the industry that provide an indisputably great presence to the industry.
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Others, such as Ben Rowland, meet an unfortunate bout of luck on the road, and though they may survive, they may unwillingly learn a lesson about the importance of safety and diligence on the road.
Though they are few, there are also some bizarre people whose lives intersected with trucking in a strange manner. Take, for instance, Robert Ben Rhoades (aka the “TruckStop Killer”) who was caught after years of capturing victims in Texas and was jailed for his sadistic crimes.
The last group of dark and downright deadly individuals are known by most not as truckers, but as people who happened to coincide with the world of truckers. Like the “Hillside Strangler” found in California, these otherwise casual monikers have been associated with truly sick and dark human beings.
Such is the case with Adam Leroy Lane, who many know as the “Highway Killer.” Though lane has since been arrested and institutionalized since his arrests, his crimes from nearly 10 years ago are still fresh wounds for many. Lane’s case is not greatly different than the story of Rhoades, and in studying these individuals, we may better understand who they are and where they may be coming from.
Who Is Adam Leroy Lane?
A blue-collar worker who lived in Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas, many claim that Lane had a long history of violence and a personality that mirrored some level of reckless abandonment. Before any formal charges were brought against Lane in the duration of his time on the road, he had developed somewhat of a reputation as a misogynist, known to easily spiral into a blind hatred towards women.
Lane was married to Miriam Benge for nearly 6 years (They divorced in 1993) before any criminal trouble happened. Benge personally notes multiple accounts of physical abuse and near-constant verbal abuse, though no reports or arrests towards Lane were made during their marriage.
Any acts of violence may come as a surprise to Lane’s friends and inner circle, who knew the man as an untroubled driver who worked long hours and who was known to take on a long haul every now and then.
On breaks during his truck driving job, Lane was known to frequent Jordan’s Country Restaurant off the Interstate-77, rubbing elbows with other drivers and talking shop about the industry. Lane was even known to have a usual – two hot dogs with all fixings.
For all intents and purposes, Lane seemed like a normal human being to the outside world. A driver who had a routine and his usual haunts, he may have had a troubled married life, but few seemed to know him outside of the exterior he showed others, especially fellow drivers.
However, that perceived familiarity and friendliness of Lane was soon to be revealed to the public at large.
The Problems Begin
By most accounts, it’s agreed that Lane’s troubles began during the first part of 2007. While personal stories of violence and poor behavior can be traced all the way back to the early 90’s, it seems that Lane began his killing spree during the first part of 2007.
Over the years, Lane found it incredibly hard to keep a partner in the truck. Many of his partners later on reported incidents of Lane displaying a short temper and reacting incredibly poorly in situations wherein some drivers may face “road rage.”
Spending a great deal of his time on the road in his truck, some accounts show that Lane began to become less and less disassociated with society the more time he spent on the road. As the hours grew longer and the routes added up, Lane reportedly became less and less stable and perhaps began to see an even greater hatred towards women.
The first count of murder, however, was Darlene Ewalt, a Pennsylvania resident. Lane was reportedly making his way down the road, as per his route dictated.
Ewalt was reportedly sitting on the porch of her parent’s home early in the morning, and unbeknownst to her, she was being watched by Lane in the darkness. After parking his truck in the neighborhood, Lane began to survey the houses nearby for any local victims.
As Ewalt’s husband slept upstairs in their home, Lane is reported to have attacked the young woman with a knife, stabbing her repeatedly after slitting her throat.
After committing the murder, Lane hurried to his truck and immediately got back on the road, thinking that he would appear as an inconspicuous trucker traveling through the night.
When police came to the scene of the crime they noted that the attack was no ordinary murder – but a crime committed by someone with sociopath tendencies – likely someone who is categorized as a serial killer.
The Terror That Follows
Lane must have thought that his tactic was well-conceived. In his mind, a random driver who seems to be completing business as usual during the course of his trucker job could not possibly be the cause of such mayhem – at least, that’s what he thought.
Lane’s next victim was found in Bloomsbury, New Jersey, another young woman who was targeted for her vulnerability at the evening hour.
After parking his truck in a truck stop within relative walking distance of the area he was planning on attacking, Lane surveyed the neighborhood to see what houses looked like easy targets. He soon came upon Monica Massaro’s home, finding that the door was unlocked and that no security alarms or dogs would hinder his entry.
The investigation of from authorities showed that after exploring Massaro’s house Lane entered her bedroom, where she was alone.
Once again, Lane methodically attacked Massaro with a knife, first cutting her in the throat and then stabbing her several times despite the intial fatal wound she had received.
After killing Massaro, Lane rushed back to the truck stop where he had parked his rig, once again motoring into the night as if nothing has transpired.
The Final Act
It is said that Lane could not help himself in what was now a killing spree, and drove nearly all night to get to his next randomly selected target. Fueled on rage and battling with exhaustion behind the wheel, Lane somehow ended up in Massachusetts in less than 24 hours after he had killed Massaro.
This time, however, Lane was less careful about his maneuvering and began to become somewhat sloppy in his technique. Coming in loud and angrily, Lane parked his truck in a truck stop very close to a residential area in Chelmsford, awaking people nearby and causing witnesses to see a man frantically hiding in bushes and nearby shrubbery. He found a nearby trailer park and decided to case the scene for his next victim.
Kathy Crowley reports seeing a man wearing all black and with a mask, attempting to break into trailers. Crowley called police, but Lane disappeared before the authorities could arrive.
More than an hour after Crowley had reported Lane, the murdered found the McDonough house outside of the trailer park and broke inside.
Lane caused such a commotion, it caused his would-be victim, Shea McDonough to awaken even before Lane broke into the 15-year-old’s room. Shea saw Lane enter with a knife in hand and began to call for her parents in the commotion.
The young girl’s parents heard the noise and rushed into her room, to find Lane covering their daughter’s mouth in order to quiet her down. Kevin reportedly attacked the frazzled and exhausted Lane,
Shea’s parents, Kevin and Jeannie McDonough, were able to overpower Lane and hold him down while his daughter called the police.
When authorities arrived, they were disturbed in what they found at the scene – a bevy of all sorts of weapons, from hunting to knives to choking wire to throwing stars.
Police arrested Lane and took him into custody, where they then charged him with multiple murders over the course of July 2007.
The Aftermath of The Lane Cases
The Highway Killer had been brought to justice, and not a moment too soon. Using the highways as his hunting grounds and the guise of long haul trucking jobs as a cover for his awful behavior, Lane thought he could get away with simply being a driver rather than a driver up to no good.
One of Lane’s major mistakes was centering his attacks around truck stops, putting him in easily traceable locations across the country. While the past saw a handful cases wherein truck drivers would brutalize or kill prostitutes at these truck stops, it has long been the case since one of these rare occurrences happened.
Some of Lane’s story can be boiled down to a lapse in the lack of safety found in truck stops across the country and the areas near truck stops. This is not to say that drivers are inherently violent, but there may be sick people posing as drivers who frequent these otherwise friendly locations. For that matter, there is not necessarily one area that is less safe than another. A Florida truck stop may be just as secure as one in the west.
There is no prevention against someone like Lane, a man on a mission to fulfill terrible deeds, but there is a moral that comes out of those who drove with him or frequently interacted with him- if someone appears erratic on a regular basis, it may be a good idea to mention it to someone, just in case they are truly troubled.