ROBERT BEN RHOADES
Deseret News Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 12:30 a.m. MDT
OZONA, Texas — The ongoing drama in Eldorado and San Angelo, Texas, involving the YFZ Ranch and the FLDS Church has captured the attention of Utah and the nation. But the legal battle surrounding the polygamist sect isn't the only court case in the Lone Star State with Utah ties.
About 45 minutes outside of Eldorado along I-10 is the town of Ozona. There, prosecutors are preparing their case against alleged serial killer Robert Ben Rhoades, 62, accused of murdering two people 18 years ago. The badly decomposed body of one of those victims, Patricia Candace Walsh, 24, was found by hunters in Millard County months after she had been murdered.
Rhoades' travels are the subject of a book, "Roadside Prey," by Alva Busch.
Rhoades, a former truck driver, is believed to have equipped the cab of his truck as a type of dungeon with handcuffs on the ceiling used to incapacitate his victims. He is accused in the book and by investigators of sexually assaulting and systematically torturing the women he held captive before killing them.
A story in the Tucson Weekly in 1996 quoted officials as saying they believed by early 1990, Rhoades was kidnapping and killing an average of three women a month. He allegedly carried a briefcase of torture items with him on the road, according to the article.
Robert Ben Rhoades
“Whips and Chains”
Born in Counsel Bluffs, Iowa
Raised initially by his mother and then by his mother and father after the father
returned from overseas.
Had few problems in school. Played football, wrestled, and was in the boy’s glee
club, choir, and French club
Arrested for tampering with a motor vehicle during his sophomore year in high
Arrested for fighting
Enlisted in Marine Corps after graduating Monticello High School
Father arrested for performing lascivious acts on a 12-year old girl. Father
committed suicide after being arrested.
Arrested for robbery and was discharged from the Marines
Attended college, but dropped out
Applied for a job as a police officer but was not hired
Got married after returning to Council Bluffs had one son
Married two more times
Worked in stores, supermarkets, warehouses, restaurants and drove long haul truck
First kill in series
Picked up Candace Walsh and her new husband, Douglas Zyskowski. Rhoades
killed Zyzkowski and dumped his body. He kept Candace for seven more days
before killing her and dumping her body in Millard County, Utah.
Douglas Scott Zyskowski’s body found in Texas but they were not able to identify
it until 1992.
Final kill in the series
Last marriage to wife Debra
Arrested in Arizona for aggravated assault, sexual assault, and unlawful
The body of 14-year old Regina Walters was found in a barn off Interstate 70, 220
miles southwest of Chicago
Body of Candace Walsh (24) was discovered by deer hunters need Fillmore, UT
Pleads guilty to first-degree murder for the murder of Regina Walters
Convicted in Illinois and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of
Admitted to Stateville Correctional Center, Illinois
Extradited to Utah to be tried for the murder of Candace Walsh (24)
Returned to prison in Illinois
Rhoades is still serving his sentence in Illinois.
Number of victims
At least four
Country where killing occurred
States where killing occurred
Multiple locations (Utah, Washington, Texas, Illinois)
Cities where killing occurred
Type of killer
Both Organized and Disorganized
Date of birth
November 22, 1945
Council Bluffs, Iowa
out of 4
Number of siblings
Mother at first, Father came later from overseas
Parent’s marital status
Father arrested for performing lascivious acts on a 12-year old
girl. Father committed suicide after being arrested.
Age of family event
Problems in school?
No. Played football, wrestled, boy’s glee club, choir, French
Teased while in school?
Age of first sexual experience
Age when first had intercourse
Father abused drugs/alcohol
Mother abused drugs/alcohol
Highest grade in school
High School Diploma
Grades in school
Source of IQ information
Served in the military?
Type of discharge
Saw combat duty
Killed enemy during service?
Applied for job as a cop?
Yes, but application was rejected
Worked in law enforcement?
Fired from jobs?
Types of jobs worked
Stores, supermarkets, warehouses, restaurants and drove long
Employment status during series
Number of children
Lives with his children
Killer Psychological Information
Been to a psychologist?
Time in forensic hospital?
Killer Criminal History
Committed previous crimes?
Yes, he was arrested for fighting, tampering with motor
vehicle, and robbery
Spend time in jail?
Spend time in prison?
Killed prior to series? Age?
Number of victims
Prostitutes, transient women, Missionaries, young women w/
Killer age at start of series
Date of first kill in series
Date of final kill in series
February 3, 1990
Gender of victims
Both males and females
Race of victims
Age of victims
14, 18, 24, 28
Type of victim
Prostitutes, Transient women, Missionaries, Young women w/
Method of killing
Tortured, sexually abused, shot, strangled
Killer brought with him, Had torture chamber in back of truck
Was gun used?
Yes, only used on the married couple
Did killer have a partner?
Name of partner
Sex of partner
Type of serial killer
Organized lust and disorganized thrill
How close did killer live?
Drove to Crime/Crimes committed in his truck
Location of first contact
Location of killing
Back of truck on Interstate
Killing occurred in home of victim?
Killing occurred in home of killer?
Victim abducted or killed at contact?
Behavior During Crimes
Yes, all female victims
Yes, had torture chamber in the back of his truck
No, Contacted families after killing victims
Yes, shaved hair and posed the bodies
Quick & efficient?
Bound the victims?
Yes, used a horse bit
After Death Behavior
Sex with the body?
Ate part of the body?
Drank victim’s blood?
Posed the body?
When he took victims
Took totem – body part
Took totem – personal item
Yes, Articles of clothing, pictures
Robbed victim or location
Disposal of Body
Left at scene, no attempt to hide
Left at scene, hidden
Yes, young female victim was left in a barn
Left at scene, buried
Moved, no attempt to hide
Yes, Dumped bodies in random places
Cut-op and disposed of
Moved, too home
Date killer arrested
April 1, 1990
September 11, 1992
Life without parole
Did killer plead NGRI?
Was the NGRI plea successful?
Name and state of prison
Killer committed suicide?
Killer killed in prison?
Date of death
Still alive today
Last edited by texasx; 02-15-2009 at 12:02 PM.
Re: ROBERT BEN RHOADES
Suspected of killing many women hitchhiking across the United States. Minimal suspicion of 50. Carried attache case of torture instruments, based in Houston, Texas.
Truck driver main occupation but had many jobs across the nation, from each coast, menial jobs.
Was sadistic killer, some victims lived, escaped.
aka "dusty" rhoades
born council bluffs iowa
cross country truck driver, warehouseman, restaurant worker
.22 caliber jennings semi auto
.25 raven semi auto
former marine, viet nam but non combat assignment, honorable discharge
kept victims in camper of truck as long as 2 weeks
has never confessed
step father committed sucide after second arrest for child molestation
sister committed suicide at 12
never knew who real father was
has no juvenile record
claims no recollection of childhood prior to age 14
married oklahoma city 1970
married omaha nebraska 1976
married houston 1984
claims no religion
claims began "kinky" sex in 1984 marriage to debbie nance in houston
truck driver ,long haul, over 20 years
uses speed and lsd to "loosen up"
one victim regina waltr, pasadena texas runaway with ricky lee w/m, his body never founbd
traveled knowns as long haul trucker
Some contents of attache case:
needles that were inserted in victims nipples, vagina, anus
horse bridle and bit
used above to torture
forced victims to drink his urine
cuffed victims and bridled them with dog leash around neck
vaginal, anal and oral assault
forced wives to have sex with many men while he watched
dressed wives as children when they drove across country with him
picked up hitch hikers and forced them to have sex with his wives while he
used a whip to flagellate his victims and wives
if not "on the road" became porno dependent and became increasingly
photographed his sex with wives
into wife swapping
advertised one wife as a sex slave
demanded wife have sex with both men and women while he watched
enjoyed jogging with his dog
was habitual speed abuser
Re: ROBERT BEN RHOADES
After the terrified victim (later identified as Lisa Pennal) was released, she recounted her story of abduction and torture. She stated that she had accepted a ride with Rhoades at a coffee shop in Buckeye, Arizona. Although Pennal was difficult to interview and spoke in fractured sentences, the investigators learned of her transient lifestyle and current drug abuse. The investigator noted that though she was dressed in a skirt and shirt, on her feet she wore only slippers designed like a cartoon tiger.
The victim indicated that she had fallen asleep in the sleeper berth, only to awake as Rhoades was placing handcuffs on her wrists and ankles. She stated that Rhoades beat her with a whip, attached a chain around her neck, and attached spring-type clips to her nipples and vagina. It was unclear how long Rhoades had kept Lisa Pennal in this torture chamber, but the physical injuries on her body indicated that several events of whipping and torture occurred. During this ordeal, Rhoades told Pennal that he had been doing this to girls and women for 15 years.
Re: ROBERT BEN RHOADES
Even though Rhoades was handcuffed and in custody, he remained calm. He made light of the mental capacity of the victim and tried to get the investigator to sympathize with him as he described her as the aggressor in the event, referring to her as a "lot lizard." Alva Busch quotes Rhoades in the book Roadside Prey: "'I can tell you, this girl is not playing with a full deck,' laughed Rhoades, as if someone had told a joke.. 'She ain't wrapped too tight,' chuckled Rhoades, 'you don't screw around with the women on the road. Not unless you want your dick to drop off, okay? ... She wanted to go to bed.... I was dragging anchor. She was going back to bed.' I said, 'Go ahead.' She started taking off her clothes, and I said, 'What the $%^& and I let her'" (1996, pp. 58-62).
The victim, who was hysterical at times, showed evidence of sustained physical and sexual abuse, corroborating her story of captivation. Rhoades' explanation began to fall apart as investigators discovered large amounts of bondage-type pornography and sexual assault materials in his truck. Rhoades' account was not supported by the clues.
During the subsequent investigation, search warrants were executed on the cab of the semi-tractor truck and on Robert Ben Rhoades' residence in Houston, Texas. The results of the searches revealed a briefcase containing whips, handcuffs, spring-type clips, a dildo, various items of women's clothing, miscellaneous paperwork, and several photographs of a young white female in various poses, both nude and partially dressed.
There were Polaroid photographs of several women inside "open-roofed" vehicles, apparently taken from inside the trucker's cab as the women passed him on the highway. These photographs were seized from Rhoades' Houston apartment. There were also photographs of one particular victim (a teenage girl) in the sleeper berth of the trucker's cab, in the outdoors, and in an abandoned barn-type structure. In this particular set of photographs, the victim was handcuffed, chained, and posing with a dildo and had the spring-type clips attached to her nipples.
The teenager in the photographs remained unidentified as far as the Robert Ben Rhoades case was concerned. Then, on September 29, 1990, the decomposed body of a young female was found in an abandoned barn near Greenville, Illinois. The cause of death was determined to be ligature strangulation. The victim was later identified as 14-year-old Regina Waiters. Wakers was reported as a runaway from Pasadena, Texas, nearly 8 months before her remains were discovered. At the time of the initial missing persons report, Wakers had been in the company of an 18-year-old white male named Picky Lee Jones. The two were reportedly hitchhiking to New Mexico. Picky Lee Jones has not been located as of this writing.
Interestingly, the investigators working on the Rhoades case and the investigators working the Waiters case in Texas and Illinois were each working independently of one another. Finally, through teletype and national databases, they started working together.
Re: ROBERT BEN RHOADES
ragically, Robert Ben Rhoades would remain a "single episode" until September 28, 1991, when he would be tied to the death of Regina Kay Waiters. There were no photos of Picky Lee Jones in Rhoades' collection, but there was a journal entry in a small notebook found in Rhoades' possession at the time of his arrest that states, "Picky is a dead man" (Evidence, 1990). Police also recovered several items of clothing that belonged to Waiters in the possession of Robert Ben Rhoades (1990).
Reflecting on the comment Rhoades had made that he had been "doing this for 15 years," investigators looked more closely into his trucking records. They discovered that the murderous trucker had traveled extensively from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the East Coast of New Jersey. He specifically traveled through Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida (Evidence, 1990).
Re: ROBERT BEN RHOADES
This "single episode," while not forgotten, joined the huge caseload of Detective Susan Trammell, receiving less investigative attention as leads cooled and time passed. During this same period of time, Rhoades continued to travel from one state to another. As the Rhoades saga progressed, information was discovered about another victim named Shana Holts, from January of 1990, who came into contact with Rhoades at a truck stop in San Bernardino, California.
Shana Holts escaped Rhoades' torture and reported the terrifying incident, mirroring the events that Trooper Miller uncovered. Holts was so terrified of Rhoades that when she was faced with the prospect of identifying him after fleeing his vehicle, and then of having to testify against him, she declined to cooperate any further and the case was dismissed.
Other similar situations were discovered as time went on. Law enforcement agencies in many different parts of the United States had criminal abductions and possible homicide charges against Rhoades based on comparisons and travel routes. In each of those incidents, the individual agencies initially believed they were dealing with a single event, pertaining only to their jurisdiction. It was not until the final chapter of the Rhoades saga was written that each agency came to realize that its "single event" was the work of a sadistic serial rapist and murderer.
The Rhoades case has helped law enforcement agencies across the United States to see, in graphic detail, the value of cooperating, communicating, and coordinating their efforts in solving difficult criminal cases. If better information sharing and coordination had occurred, it might have dramatically reduced the number of victims who fell prey to Robert Ben Rhoades (Cooper & King, 2001).
LETTER-MOTHER OF REGINA WALTERS
In September 1990, the police in Illinois found the remains of Regina Kay Walters. She disappeared February 3, 1990, from Pasadena, Texas. She was only fourteen years old at the time, and my only daughter. At this time the police have not yet brought to justice the person who has done this to my child. Even though we did not live in Illinois, this case should still be kept open. No child's death should be given up. It could happen again.
At that time, the police in Illinois asked us to keep this out of the media. We have done that and more. Just because you haven't heard from us doesn't mean we don't care. We were trying to give you time to find Regina's killer. Please don't give up. What if it was one of your children? You couldn't rest, knowing there is someone out there who took someone you loved, and don't ever think we didn't love Regina, because she was very much loved. So please don't quit looking for the killer of Regina Kay Walters.
Carolyn S. Walters
Re: ROBERT BEN RHOADES
investigators believe he is responsible for at least 50, but possibly hundreds, of deaths. However, he has only been convicted of one homicide, for which he is serving a life sentence.
Rhoades was a professional long-haul truck driver, and his case dramatically demonstrates the sophistication of a criminal predator who can effectively defy law enforcement by taking advantage of fragmented law enforcement efforts, disconnected and detached data resources, and inconsistent investigative approaches.
On April 1, 1990, Trooper Mike Miller, an Arizona highway patrolman, observed a semi-tractor-trailer parked on the shoulder of I-10. As Miller approached the vehicle to offer assistance, he looked inside the 18-wheeler and observed a bound, nude, white female in the sleeper berth of the cab. A horse-type bit and bridle was in the mouth of the terrified victim, who was chained to the interior of the truck. Also in the sleeper berth was Robert Ben Rhoades, who, when surprised by the trooper's advance, immediately exited the truck and tried to convince Miller that nothing was wrong. Rhoades stated that the events being discovered were consensual and a private matter.
While Miller tried to sort through the situation, he placed Rhoades under arrest, at which time he discovered Rhoades was in possession of a loaded .25 Caliber automatic pistol (Brandel, 1966). Rhoades was placed in the trooper's vehicle and secured with a seat belt. By the time Miller had checked on the victim and returned to the squad car, Rhoades had managed to get the seat belt off and slip his handcuffed hands in front of him. Miller asked Rhoades if he had a handcuff key, to which Rhoades affirmatively replied. Miller took the key, re-cuffed Rhoades behind his back and through his belt, and stayed with him until backup officers arrived at the scene to assist.
THIS IS A MUST READ THREAD/ GREAT DESCRIPTORS
ROBERT BEN RHOADES....OLD VICAP NOTES SURFACED A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO AND BEGAN A LOOKSEE INTO WHAT WAS ON THE NOTES. HAVE GONE THROUGH THEM AND WITH LITERARY LICENSE ADDED THE ABSENT INFORMATION FROM THAT FOUND ON THE INTERNET THAT IS IN MY HAND NOTES AND OTHER INFORMATION FOUND.
QUITE A STUDY WITH LESS ATTENTION BUT GREATER ACTIVITY THAN THE BUNDYS AND OTHERS.
TAKE A LOOK, IT IS REVEALING.
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