The Rest Area Killer Confessed To Murdering Over 70 People Across 21 States, A Grim US Record

The crimes committed by Donald Leroy Evans are shrouded in mystery, but they are incredibly horrific nonetheless. When Evans was arrested in 1991, he confessed to murdering more than 70 people across 21 states – a grim new record for a serial killer. He said he took his victims from rest areas and public parks, common locations for people to come up missing. Because of this, Evans could be responsible for many unsolved truck stop murders.

But the police were doubtful. Evans did seem connected to several murders committed, but not all that he claimed responsibility for. Investigators worried that he might be making false confessions, and it was particularly hard to investigate his alleged crimes; Evans chose victims who often slipped through the cracks, like the homeless and sex workers.

Facts about the Rest Area Killer reveal a man with a troubled life and terrifying criminal history. As for the true extent of Evans's murderous activity, he took that to the grave.

  • He Asked To Wear A Klan Robe To His Trial

    Evans went to trial for the murder of Ira Jean Smith, a Black woman, in 1994. He had an insulting request for the proceedings, as he explained in writing to the court:

    I move to require the state to accept at Broward County Jail one or two white Ku Klux Klan type robes with white hoods and neo-Nazi arm bands, so that the defendant can properly wear the said court clothes to all pre-trial and trial proceedings. No essential state policy is or can be served by denying this defendant his right to appear before a jury in civilian clothes of his choice, i.e., a white Ku Klux Klan robe and hood and swastika armband.

    Evans also requested that he be referred to in court as “Hi Hitler.”

  • He Begged For The Death Penalty

    After Evans was arrested, he began confessing to scores of murders. Ultimately, he told police he had killed more than 70 people while he drifted from state to state between 1977 and 1986. He said he usually took his victims from rest areas and parks – earning him the grim nickname "Rest Area Killer."

    Evans supposedly requested the death penalty, telling the authorities, "I want to be executed by the state for my crimes against humanity."

  • He Confessed Out Of Guilt

    On August 1, 1991, Evans kidnapped a 10-year-old girl from a Mississippi park. He raped her and strangled her to death. He was arrested four days later in Colorado, and almost immediately confessed to the murder. Apparently, Evans was overcome with guilt over killing a child.

  • He Escaped From Jail While Awaiting Murder Charges

    In 1993, Evans was serving a life sentence on kidnapping charges and was housed in Mississippi's Harrison County Jail awaiting murder charges. One night, Evans was able to overpower a jail guard by using a prison shank; he stole the guard's keys and escaped. Three other inmates escaped with him.

    Fortunately, the police captured Evans a little over 24 hours later. He was hiding in a shed in a lumber yard approximately half a mile from the jail. Evans was apprehended without incident and taken back behind bars.

  • He Was Conclusively Connected To The Murder Of Ira Jean Smith

    One of the victims that Evans described to investigators turned out to be 38-year-old Ira Jean Smith, a sex worker from Fort Lauderdale, FL. Her body was found in the closet of a motel room with a blanket wrapped around it in 1985.

    Evans knew details about the crime scene and the murder that only the individual responsible would know. After Evans confessed, police were able to match a fingerprint that was found in the room to Evans.

  • The 10-Year-Old Girl He Sexually Assaulted Was Fully Conscious During The Attack

    Evans sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl named Beatrice Louise Routh after putting duct tape over her mouth. He then strangled her and dumped her body. He described his crime to the court in detail. Louisiana medical examiner, Dr. Paul McGarry testified that she was conscious and able to feel pain during the entire assault.

    Evans introduced himself to Routh as Joe Williams and said he was a teacher and a part-time scuba diver. He made up stories about his students and bought Routh snacks. She went with Evans on two trips to the grocery store; it was on the third, when he suggested a beach-side barbecue, that he attacked her. Routh's family received welfare benefits, and Tami said she thought Evans was just "a nice guy" willing to help her and her daughter.