Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Daniel Remeta: On the Road to Destruction

America's Sewer Pipe

For the communities along Interstate 70 — a 2,100-mile artery of asphalt and concrete moving the lifeblood of American commerce from Maryland to Utah -- the highway is many times more trouble than it's worth. Although the road provides a direct link between some of the American heartland's major cities -— Baltimore, Wheeling, Columbus, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Topeka, and Denver, as well as countlesfs small, anonymous communities — the economic benefits of being located along a major thoroughfare are offset by the predators who also use I-70 for their own sinister purposes.

One of the worst of these predators, Douglas Belt, was a truck driver known as the "I-70 Rapist." He began attacking women in 1989 in the Kansas communities that dot the interstate, stopping in 1996 when he was arrested for burglary. He racked up a series of convictions for other violent crimes, but was paroled in 2001 and continued his violent ways. In 2002, Belt raped and decapitated a 43-year-old Wichita woman. For his crimes, Belt received the death penalty.

Before Belt, there was the "I-70 Killer," a maniac who police say targeted women working alone in stores located near the highway. That killer is thought to have slain seven women between 1992 and 1994. An eighth murder victim, a Terre Haute, Ind., man who wore a ponytail and an earring, may have been mistaken for a woman. One woman survived the attempt on her life.

The same .22-caliber pistol was used in six of the nine shootings during the early-'90s spree. Police say this pistol was also the murder weapon in the deaths of five women in Missouri, Indiana and Kansas and the Terre Haute man.

Although authorities have identified a "person of interest" in those cases, the killings formally remain open and unsolved.

Daniel Remeta
Daniel Remeta

The communities touched by the havoc wreaked by desperate criminals on the run or sociopaths out hunting for human prey have their own name for I-70. They call it America's Sewer Pipe. After Daniel Remeta killed his way through rural Kansas in 1985, a gas station owner at the intersection of Kansas 25 and I-70 summed up the feelings of the people who lived near the highway for reporters: "You just don't know what's coming down the sewer pipe next."

  Remeta and his companions — some call them hostages, while others say they were accomplices — cut a swath of carnage across the south and then descended on the 400-person hamlet of Grainfield, Kansas, like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, leaving death, pain and misery in their wake.


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