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She was found dead, wrapped in blankets behind a truck stop the day before her birthday. Her killer hasn't been caught.

Source: Unsplash; Springfield police

Jan. 4 2022, Published 2:14 p.m. ET

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In 1997, a woman was found dead and left behind a remote truck stop. Her killer made no attempts to hide the remains, but he has remained hidden from police for nearly 25 years.

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Around 8:30 a.m. on July 13, 1997, police in Springfield, Missouri, were sent to the Seven Gables truck stop to investigate a dead body. When they arrived, officers found the body of a white woman lying on the asphalt behind the business.

The victim was identified as Gloria Jean Barnes.

Her body was wrapped in blankets and placed in an open area of the parking lot, according to Springfield police. She wore a T-shirt with “spring break” on it and black shorts.

Barnes, 34, was found the day before her 36th birthday.

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She was at a truck stop that was not visible from the interstate a mile away and did not receive much traffic, according to Springfield police. Investigators say the suspect did not try to hide Barnes’ body from being discovered.

Barnes was last seen alive in Joiner, Arkansas, around midnight three days earlier, according to Springfield police.

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Her brother reported her missing the next day and said Gloria called to say someone was trying to “get her,” police noted. Family members said Barnes had been paranoid in the past about people following her. The phone call was traced to an Arkansas convenience store, which was burglarized the same night Barnes disappeared.


There was an unconfirmed sighting of Barnes walking the interstate in Arkansas near the store, according to police.

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Springfield police noted they received numerous leads and tips about Barnes. Investigators said they are interested in two anonymous tips reported shortly after her body was discovered. The agency did not provide details about those tips.

There was also CB traffic from an unknown person who claimed responsibility for Barnes’ death, according to police.

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Some tips reported a gray semi-truck with the words “Graceland” on the cab and a picture of Elvis on the faring. The vehicle might have also said “Memphis consolidation” or “Trailer Transit” on the doors.

Anyone with information on Barnes’ death is asked to contact police at (417) 864-1810.

Barnes’ brother, John Knighton, spoke to KY3 news in 2020 and said he knows someone knows about her death.

“I think whoever did this was and whoever knows what happened is someone close to the family. It wasn’t some random trucker, I don’t care what anyone else thinks,” Knighton told the TV station.

Her sister, Sarah Matamoros, told the news channel that they believe she got in the semi-truck and if someone came forward, it could be the big break in the case.

“I believe you have to make it right with God before you meet your maker, and I hope you do,” Matamoros said.


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