Robert Ben Rhoades: The Truck Stop Killer
Arizona State Trooper Mike Miller saw a truck pulled over on the side of highway 1-10 and pulled up to see what was going on. It was early on an April morning in 1990. Miller pulled over and heard a woman screaming. The driver, Robert Rhoades assured him that nothing was wrong. When Miller opened the back of the truck, he found a nude woman chained to a filthy mattress.
Rhoades claimed the woman was with him by consent and that the two had an argument. Miller arrested Rhoades and called for back-up.
Investigators found that Rhoades created a torture chamber in his truck’s sleeper cab.
They would also find that there was a prior complaint against Rhoades by a woman who said she was held captive and tortured by a truck driver for two weeks.
On February 5, 1990, Nicole Tuttle, 18, was frantically trying to flag down a driver on a highway in eastern Texas. A driver stopped for her. Tuttle looked like she had been beaten, she had a dog leash around her neck and her hair looked like it had been chopped off. She told police that she had been abducted and raped by a truck driver. Tuttle hitched a ride with the trucker in California. He said his name was Dustin and that he was headed for Arizona.
She fell asleep and woke up as the driver was chaining her up in the truck’s sleeper cab. He whipped her, then raped and sodomized her. She said she was kept in the cab for six days before he took her to his apartment in Houston, Texas. He chained her to his bed and raped her. He then left and returned with a straight razor and, placing the blade close to her scalp, cropped off her long hair. When they went back to the truck, he didn’t chain her up. His next stop was a brewery and the driver had to leave Tuttle alone while he went in to sign for his freight. Tuttle saw an opportunity to escape and ran.
Police pulled over a truck matching the description Tuttle gave and when they drove her to the scene, she said he wasn’t her attacker. She actually told police to stop looking for her attacker, that she was too frightened to testify against him. At the hospital, while she was being treated for her wounds, Tuttle said that the driver they stopped was her attacker. She refused to press charges.
When searching Rhoades’ apartment, investigators found nude photos of a young girl, identified as a runaway from Texas, 14-year-old Regina Kay Walters. Investigators would find out that Walters and her boyfriend, Ricky Lee Jones, 18, disappeared the day of Nicole Tuttle’s escape from Rhoades. Other photos were found of another woman, later identified as Candace Walsh. Walters’ remains would be found in a barn in rural Illinois in September of 1990 and Walsh’s body was found in October.
Rhoades picked up hitchhikers Candace Walsh and her husband Douglas Zyskowski in January of 1990. Zyskowski was killed first. His body was left in Sutton County, Texas. Rhoades had other plans for Walsh. He kept her hostage for one week, torturing her and raping her repeatedly, before dumping her body in Utah.
Rhoades picked up runaways Regina Kay Walters, age 14 and Ricky Lee Jones, 18, one month later. The teenagers were from Pescadena, Texas. Rhoades killed Jones, then proceeded to rape and torture Walters for two weeks, capturing the girl’s ordeal in photos that were found in his apartment.
Photos of Regina Kay Walters; the bottom picture was taken by Rhoades.
Rhoades enjoyed photographing women as he tortured them, raping them repeatedly, shaving their heads and genital area, whipping and cutting them as they lay chained to a filthy mattress in the sleeper cab of his truck.
Walters’ body was dumped in a barn in rural Illinois. Jones’ body was found in Mississippi in 1991 but he was not identified until July 2008.
Regina Walters’ father had received a strange phone call from a man claiming to know where Regina was, that she was in a barn and that he had made some changes…he cut off her hair.
Robert Ben Rhoades was convicted of first degree murder in the death of Regina Kay Walters in 1994. He received a life sentence without parole in Illinois. When Walter’s body was found, Rhoades was charged with the deaths of her and her husband Douglas Zyskowski in Utah. Rhoades pled guilty to both murders, but the victims’ families dropped the charges. Rhoades is suspected of as many as 50 murders. He is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Facility, the same facility that housed serial killer John Wayne Gacy.