An Arkansas tractor-trailer driver has been charged with first-degree assault involving serious physical injury, after a traffic stop Monday in West Plains led to the discovery of a severely beaten woman in the truck’s sleeper berth.
Joseph A. Walker, 30, Cave City, Ark., was arrested Monday on south U.S. 63, south of the U.S. 63 and U.S. 160 intersection, according to Sgt. R. Rees of Troop G of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Rees reported he was on patrol when he saw a commercial truck without a trailer that had bright cargo lights activated, causing a traffic hazard for drivers following it.
Rees reported he stopped the truck and asked Walker for identification and routine information when Walker began to act “extremely nervous,” moving around the cab of the truck, making unintelligible comments and going back and forth between the cab and the sleeper berth.
A female passenger sitting next to Walker during the stop explained he was teaching her how to drive at night, Rees said. After returning to the cab’s window, Rees said Walker muttered something about a gun and a hostage and Rees heard a woman’s scream.
Walker and the passenger were ordered out of the truck and Rees called for backup as the woman continued to scream, the sergeant reported. While Walker was reportedly repeating his unintelligible comments, Rees asked him how many people were still in the truck; no answer was reported and Rees approached the window of the cab and told the occupant to get out.
The woman had crawled between the seats and was “obviously injured,” as her face was bloody, cut and swollen, Rees said. He added she was able to walk to the shoulder of the road and lie down, moaning and directing slurred comments toward Walker, who Rees handcuffed shortly before more officers arrived.
Rees said the injured woman was taken by ambulance to Ozarks Medical Center for treatment, but was unable to give a statement to law enforcement until the next day due to the extent of her injuries.
The female passenger from the cab of the truck, who was also taken into custody but not charged, told investigating officers Walker had severely beaten the other woman after she refused to have sex with him. After the injured woman was able to make a statement, she allegedly gave a statement supporting the allegation that Walker had assaulted her.
Arkansas court records show Walker was convicted of third-degree domestic assault in 2012 and third-degree battery and first-degree false imprisonment in 2017, Rees said in his statement to prosecutors.