Notebook found in stabbing suspect's truck, may offer insight into mental state

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Idris Abdus-Salaam, 33, stabbed four women at a truck stop off I-40 Tuesday, killing three.

Author: Cole Sullivan, Allison Duff Published: 6:28 PM EDT April 8, 2020 Updated: 6:28 PM EDT April 8, 2020

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Notes believed to be from the suspect who stabbed three truck stop employees to death Tuesday suggested he may not have been mentally well. A source close to the investigation showed WBIR pages of the notebook he said law enforcement recovered from Idris Abdus Salaam's truck.  The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Abdus-Salaam, 33, stabbed four women at the Pilot Travel Center off Interstate 40 on Strawberry Plains Pike just before 7 o'clock Tuesday morning. Knox County Sheriff's deputies shot and killed Abdus-Salaam shortly after arriving on scene. 

TBI identified him as a truck driver from North Carolina. Agents could be seen examining a tractor-trailer truck parked near the Pilot Tuesday afternoon.

The notebook the source said was found in the truck contains graphic writing believed to be from Abdus-Salaam. 

It suggested he may not be mentally well. 

Because of the graphic nature of the writing and because law enforcement has not yet confirmed or denied the existence of this notebook, WBIR is not sharing the full text.

A public records search showed a number of speeding violations on Abdus-Salaam's record. In 2018, he faced a criminal charge in Wake County, North Carolina for eluding arrest/fleeing. 

TBI said Abdus-Salaam had no criminal record in Tennessee. 

Tuesday, a TBI spokesperson confirmed two witnesses attempted to subdue him during the attack.  

The fourth woman stabbed, a customer at the convenience store, was released from the hospital Wednesday. TBI will not release her name. 

"Upon arrival, officers observed at least one person with stab wounds outside of the store. A man, armed with a knife and identified by witnesses as the suspect, was also observed in the parking lot. Officers confronted the individual who refused to drop the weapon. At some point during the encounter, one of the officers fired shots, striking the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene," said TBI in a press release.

The suspect was killed. He was identified as Idris Abdus-Salaam, 33, a truck driver from Durham, North Carolina.

Two witnesses apparently chased him out of the gas station, Earhart said.

TBI identified the three women killed, all employees of the Pilot Travel Center, as 57-year-old Joyce Whaley, 51-year-old Patricia Denise Nibbe, and 41-year-old Nettie R. Spencer.

Nettie Spencer, 41

Tammy Bearden

The fourth victim who was wounded has still not been identified. She was a customer and is still in the hospital

Joyce Whaley was a faithful and steadfast member of The Crossing Chuch in Kodak, according to her pastor.

"One of the most caring people I've ever met," said pastor Kermit McPeek.

Joyce Whaley


McPeek said she he was with her husband when he got the news. In addition to her husband, McPeek said Whaley is survived by two daughters and two grandchildren.

McPeek said she was a church volunteer who loved her family and the Lady Vols.

Pastor Joshua Moore at Grace Community Church remembered Denise Nibbe as a woman you could count on.

“She was one of the most giving people, willing to help in an instant in any situation," he said, noting that she helped him pick out an engagement ring for the woman who became his wife.

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