Widow of murdered trucker seeks answers six years later

widow remembers husband six years after his murder

Ashley Boeglin says she remembers her last telephone call with her husband, Mike, as he sat in the driver’s seat of his 1998 silver Freightliner outside the gates of the ThyssenKrupp plant in Detroit on June 25, 2014, waiting to deliver his load of steel coils the next morning. 

They talked until almost midnight about his plan to be the first truck in line to be unloaded when the steel plant opened the next morning.

“He was going to help a friend haul a load of hogs later that day back in our hometown of Ferdinand, Indiana, and we talked about our new baby on the way and what we needed to do to get everything ready before she arrived,” Ashley told FreightWaves. “We made plans to talk the next morning when he was on his way home.”

That was the last time she spoke to her husband.

Sadly, early the next morning Mike’s body was found inside the cab of his truck. His body was burned beyond recognition. Detroit police later told her that Mike had been shot multiple times before his rig was set on fire. Investigators suspected robbery was the motive.

However, his wallet containing around $800 was later recovered, along with his backpack, in his burned rig. Only Mike’s cellphone, an old flip phone, and the couple’s iPad were missing.

Six years later, his murder remains unsolved.

FreightWaves reached out to the Detroit Police Department to find out if there are any new leads in Mike’s murder investigation.

While Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, public information officer with the Detroit Police Department, called and said she forwarded the request to the investigators working Mike’s case, they did not return telephone calls and emails requesting comment.

The call

Ashley Boeglin, who works as a physical-therapist assistant and athletic trainer for the Perry Central School District in Leopold, Indiana, said she remembers getting ready for work around 5:30 a.m. on June 26 when her brother-in-law, Mark Boeglin, called her in a panic, asking if she had Mike’s dental records.

“I remember asking him why in the world would he need Mike’s dental records, and he said that Mike’s dispatcher had called him and said police had found Mike’s gray semi at the steel plant, it’s burnt and they don’t know where the driver is,” she said. “I don’t remember too much of what Mark said next, just that I instantly got mad at him for insinuating that Mike could possibly be hurt or dead. I didn’t think he was gone at that point.” 

After hanging up the telephone call with Mark, Ashley said she immediately called her cell phone provider and asked to have a trace put on Mike’s phone. 

“I told the company that I didn’t care what it costs, but I wanted to know the location of his phone because it’s ringing through,” she said. 

Her carrier was able to locate the phone about three blocks away from where her husband’s semi was found.

“The fact that the cell phone wasn’t going straight to voicemail told me that somebody had taken his cell phone and was using it,” she said.

She said she forwarded the lead on to Detroit police working Mike’s case, including the phone number that was called from Mike’s phone after the time investigators said he died. 

“Even from the day that Mike was killed, investigators never really responded to me,” she said.

She even visited the site where Mike was murdered less than 150 feet from the gates of the ThyssenKrupp steel plant, but said that nobody from the facility would talk to her while she was there.

Haunted by the ‘what ifs’

After his death, Ashley said she was haunted by all the “what ifs” that occurred the day before Mike was murdered. What if the shipper hadn’t been two hours late getting her husband’s trailer loaded, what if there hadn’t been heavy traffic that day that made him miss his appointment time by an hour. What if he would have been allowed to park inside the gated lot at the ThyssenKrupp plant in Detroit. What if he would have been allowed to carry a weapon to protect himself.

Mike Boeglin’s death highlighted the need for more safe parking options for truck drivers as the ThyssenKrupp plant had a no-parking policy inside its gated lot and he was forced to park in what police described as a high-crime area.

His murder also sparked a petition calling for “Mike’s Law” — a “right to carry” bill that would allow truckers to legally carry guns in their trucks. The effort failed. 

Lawmakers also have introduced legislation in the U.S. House and Senate that would allow concealed-carry permit reciprocity among certain states.

“I’ve thought about the what ifs many times — if he would have had a handgun that morning would he still be alive today, but I’m not sure,” Ashley said. “While Mike owned several rifles and he was an excellent shot, he never owned a handgun. I don’t think he would have carried one even if it was legal in his truck, but I support that right for others.”

Ashley and Mike’s first date

Ashley first met Mike on Mother’s Day in 2005 when she was 19, following her freshman year of college at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana.

She and Mike’s twin sister, Michelle, were college friends. When Ashley decided to stay in southern Indiana that summer to work, she moved in with Mike and Michelle’s older sister, Melanie. 

“Melanie woke me up at 5:30 a.m. that morning and said I needed to get up and get ready to go to church because it’s Mother’s Day,” Ashley said. “I said, ‘my mom lives in Boise, Idaho, and doesn’t church usually start later than this?’” 

“I remember her saying something like, ‘no, we’re Catholic,’” she said. 

After getting dressed, she walked outside and Mike was standing in front of his Jeep.

“Mike said, ‘Oh, you get to go to church, too, huh, well, welcome to the family,’” Ashley said.

A few days later, he showed up to his sister’s apartment when Mike knew Melanie was at work and asked her if she wanted to see what he did for work.

“I didn’t want to be rude, so I said OK and put my shoes on and went outside,” Ashley said. 

Parked outside her apartment complex was a huge airflow machine used to spray crops.

“We spent the next eight hours in the cab as he sprayed farmers’ fields, talked and I got to know him,” she said. 

He later became an owner-operator and bought his own truck.

The couple were married in the fall of 2012.

On Valentine’s Day, a year after Mike’s death, Ashley said she found his wedding ring in the ashes of his burned-out Freightliner.

“I was just kind of digging around and I moved just the right amount of debris and found it,” she said. “That was the most important and precious gift I found in that wreckage.”

Baby Mackenzie 

Five months after Mike’s murder, Ashley gave birth to the couple’s first child, Mackenzie, who is now 5 and started kindergarten a few weeks ago.

Being a single parent of a newborn was exhausting, but Ashley said she continued to move forward because that’s what Mike would have wanted her to do.

“You have your two options — you can either let it consume you or you can learn to make something out of it,” she said. “I chose to keep going, even on those difficult days and to try and find the good in life. 

She admits it wasn’t easy.

“I can’t tell you how many times I just collapsed and slid down the wall and just bawled my eyes out because the pain was so overwhelming from losing him and everything that we had planned in our life,” Ashley said. “Knowing that my daughter was never going to get to see her father and he could never hold her and how he was taken so violently from us for no reason at all was so painful.”

She said Mackenzie’s mannerisms and facial features remind her of her late husband.

“She holds her fork the exact same way that he did and she kind of smacks her lips when she eats, almost like a cow does, that Mike would do as a joke around me,” she said. “The eye-rolling and the expression on her face when she’s super frustrated by something, are just like his.  When he would get upset, he would kind of stomp his foot and ball up his fists and she does the exact same thing. It’s just like watching a video.”

Ashley Boeglin and her daughter, Mackenzie. Photo: Ashley Boeglin

A photo of Mike sits on Mackenzie’s nightstand. Ashley also said it was important for MacKenzie to know that her dad didn’t choose not to be in her life.

“I know he would be so proud of her because of who she is and how caring she is for other people,” Ashley said. “In that regard, she is so much like her dad. It’s quite scary, honestly.”

Ashley is now in a committed relationship with Mike’s older brother, Mark. The couple share a 6-month-old son named Alexander. 

Together, they make sure to share stories about Mike with Mackenzie.

“She knows that Mark isn’t her father, but he has flourished in that role,” Ashley said. “It takes a big man to step up and Mark genuinely cares for her and Mackenzie loves him.”

What people should remember about Mike?

While school really wasn’t Mike’s thing, she said he was incredibly smart and liked working with his hands building things.

She said he made his own biodiesel fuel by collecting old cooking oil from nearby restaurants that he blended and used to power his truck and the couple’s old Volkswagen Jetta. 

He loved riding his four-wheeler, Jeep riding and farming, she said.

“He was always willing to help out a friend, loved to farm and was so excited about becoming a dad,” Ashley said.