Gail Smith, age 20, had been working as a waitress at a topless bar in Ft. Worth, Texas, but with salary and tips together, she had still not saved the money that she needed for a car. Accordingly, when she decided it was time to see her mother in Lake Meredith, 300 miles away, Gail chose her spot along the highway, stuck her thumb out, waiting for a ride.
She never made it.
On October 14, 1985, police in Amarillo got a call from an excited trucker, who had stopped along the highway, north of town, to answer nature's call. Discarded in the brush, he found a woman's naked, lifeless body, bound in silver duct tape, with a man's tie knotted tight around her throat. An autopsy discovered evidence of beating prior to death. A fingerprint comparison identified the victim as Gail Smith.
A friend of Gail's had seen her off when she departed from Ft. Worth, remembering her first lift as a big, red semi trailer, Peterbilt; its trailer bore the legend "Ruger Freight." Detectives traced the firm to Mangum, Oklahoma, two days later, and examination of the schedules on file revealed that Herbert Boyle had been the only driver in the area. Detectives noted that he also matched the general description of the trucker that Gail's friend had managed to provide.
By sheer coincidence, Boyle had secured a load that morning, bound for Diboll, Texas, sixty miles due north of Houston. Stopped en route for questioning, Boyle readily identified a snapshot of the victim, claiming he had dropped her off, alive, in Wichita Falls, near the Texas-Oklahoma border. If she died near Amarillo, surely someone else must be responsible.
A search of Boyle's belongings netted officers a roll of silver duct tape, several sheets and blankets. Fibers from the latter were dispatched to Washington, D.C., where FBI analysis described them as identical with fibers found on Gail Smith's body. Boyle's wife recalled that she had seen some bloody sheets inside the truck, a short time earlier. Stray hairs recovered from the corpse was also matched to Boyle, and fingerprints , recovered from the duct tape used to bind Gail Smith, completed the array of damning evidence.
A background check on Boyle revealed that he was forty-two years old. He had completed three years military service during August 1963, thereafter moving on to Colorado, where he lived and ran an auto body shop from 1969 to February 1980. Boyle was next employed at a Las Vegas body shop, returning to his native Oklahoma in November 1981. He had been driving long-haul trucks since then, on routes that took him all throughout the country.
Working a variety of jobs had not prevented Boyle from stalking female victims on his leisure time. He had attempted to abduct a 28-year-old in Colorado Springs, November 20, 1979, but she produced a knife and stabbed him several times in self-defense. Boyle's guilty plea to an attempted kidnap charge had earned him five years on probation, but he failed to learn his lesson. At the time of his arrest in Texas, Boyle was also being sought for rape, in Canyon City, Colorado, where the victim had identified his photograph.
Review of Boyle's extensive travels linked him with a second homicide, near Truckee, California, where a "Jane Doe" victim was discovered on June 21, 1985. Her naked body had been stuffed inside a cardboard box, her hands and feet bound up with bandages and several kinds of tape. A wad of bedding had been left beside the corpse, and FBI reports said fibers taken from the body matched a blanket found inside Boyle's Oklahoma residence.
Boyle went to trial for Gail Smith's murder in October 1986. It took a jury three short hours to convict him on October 29. The sentence: Death.