A woman is killed while babysitting a young boy; the killer takes him when he leaves the house. A few months later a man and cleaning woman are killed at a motel in Amarillo, Texas. Amarillo's sheriff, Buck Olmstead, is up for reelection. Both he and his opponent, police chief Jack McGinnis, desire to solve a big murder case before election day. Meanwhile, hitchhiker Lane Dixon is picked up by Bob Goodall, an affable drifter driving a white Cadillac.