The Truck Stop Serial Killer: Robert Ben Rhoades

(Robert Benjamin Rhoades aka The Truck Stop Killer. Picture credit:

This is one of those cases that gave me instant chills down my spine when I was researching it and also made me think of a recent case that I covered, The Toy Box Killer. Like David Parker Ray (aka, The Toy Box Killer) this man, known as Robert Ben Rhoades (The Truck Stop Killer) got his kicks by torturing women both physically and mentally before taking photographs of them, keeping them tied up for days on end so that he could torture and rape them over and over again until he grew tired, killed them and dumped their bodies.

Like David Parker Ray, he'd been married a few times, been abusive to his partners and police believe that he was responsible for more deaths (50+) than he was actually convicted of. Robert created his sick little torture chamber in the back of his truck and also kept a briefcase with other items that he would use to torture the unsuspecting female hitchhikers that he picked up along the highways.

I'm going to talk briefly about the case in this post and I want to just remind you that some of the details that I will be sharing here may be quite distressing so please bear that in mind.

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As I mentioned before, there's quite a few similarities between this case and The Toy Box Killer. The only differences are, that David died so early into his sentence, he had accomplices and his torture chamber was in a trailer in his back yard. But like Robert, he was suspected of more murders and to some people they believe that he escaped justice.

Robert Benjamin Rhoades was born on the 22nd of November 1945 and his early years were apparently normal, there was no strange behaviour that would be a sign of things to come or any traumatic events. He did well at school and was a sociable character who liked to get involved in sports and school activities. He did have a couple of minor brushes with the law when he was 16 and 17 for tampering with a vehicle and getting involved in a fight.

When he graduated he joined the Marines and all looked bright for his future but during this new chapter of his life, his father had been on the wrong side of the law when he had molested a 12 year old girl and was arrested. The case was due to go to trial but Robert's father took his own life. A few years after this, the cracks in Robert's future were beginning to show when he was dishonourably discharged from the Marines for theft.

He'd been married three times and had a son from his first marriage. His third wife revealed after he was arrested that he was mentally and verbally abusive to her throughout their marriage.

He also discovered BDSM in the 1980s and quickly became an addict. His tastes for sex were often violent and he enjoyed inflicting pain on others but rather than it being just a little bit of rough, he was into inflicting severe pain to the point where the other person was bleeding and in excruciating pain, that's what thrilled him.

Investigators believe that Robert's murderous career began in 1975 all the way up to his arrest in 1990. Because of his job as a long distance lorry driver and the method in which he disposed of the bodies, a lot of the victims have never been found or identified. He preyed upon vulnerable young women and liked to pick up sex workers and hitchhikers. Sometimes the women would have a boyfriend with them or a male relative, Robert would act polite and offer them a ride. He would kill the male straight away and dump the body and keep the female captive for days on end whilst he sexually tortured them before killing them and dumping their remains. He would often take pictures of the girls after he cut their hair and shaved their pubic hair, sometimes he would make them dress up an wear makeup and high heels. There are some photographs from his collection which are online but I didn't want to share them here as I felt that it would be disrespectful to the victims and their families.

In January 1990, Robert was driving along the highway when he spotted an attractive young married couple looking for a ride. He stopped the truck and let them get on board. At some point during the journey he murdered the young man, Douglas Zyskowski before quickly dumping his body and held his wife, Patricia Candace Walsh captive where he tortured her for days before he killed her and disposed of her body. Douglas's remains were not officially identified until 1992. Patricia's remains were finally found but she was not formally identified until 13 years later as her remains had been kept in the basement of Millard County Sheriff's office.

Not long after this horrific event, an 18 year old girl was on the highway trying to hitch a ride and unfortunately Robert Ben Rhoades was passing her way and she accepted a ride from him. Robert was nice and polite at first but he soon quickly changed and the 18 year old girl was held captive for two weeks and tortured. One of his methods that he used with his victims was to cut their hair and shave their pubic hair. One day he forgot to close one of her handcuffs and she managed to flee the scene and get help, she told the police what happened. The police managed to find a man fitting the description of Robert and asked her to identify him, she froze up when she saw him and was so terrified that she was scared to tell the police it was him. She later told the police that it was in fact him.

Robert had managed to get away with it and just a few days later he had spotted another vulnerable couple, this time it was 14 year old, Regina Kay Walters and her 18 years old boyfriend, Ricky Lee Jones. The pair were running away from home and trying to hitchhike. Robert stopped the truck and offered them a ride, he murdered Ricky and dumped his body and then kept Regina for quite a long period of time. She had been sexually assaulted, tortured and he took photographs of her including the haunting one that you can view online of Regina in the black dress which he forced her to wear before he killed her. Ricky's body was found but wasn't properly identified until 2008, his family didn't report him missing. He had a few minor run-ins with the law and they figured that he must have just ended up in prison or something like that.

Author Alva Busch wrote a book called Roadside Prey on the case, and said ''He drove around the country torturing these people until he got tired of them and killed them,''

In the early hours on the 1st of April 1990, Robert's sickening torture and murder spree was about to come to an end. He had parked the truck at what he thought was a quiet area when an officer noticed the flashing lights and went to investigate.

As the officer stood up on the step of the truck and used his flashlight to see into the vehicle, he was shocked at what he saw before him, a naked woman was handcuffed and gagged, covered in red marks all over her body and screaming hysterically though the gag. He noticed Robert trying to hide behind the curtain. He ordered Robert out of the truck and arranged for backup. Robert was arrested and the young woman was taken away to safety.

Robert was calm throughout his arrest and came across as quite cocky and arrogant in police interviews, he would often be seen yawning and one police officer described him as being quite persuasive and someone who tried to talk his way out of things.

When the police went to search his apartment and met the manager there she said that she had seen bondage magazines and woman's clothes all over the floor. The police found the magazines and the clothes, they also found tons of photographs and later identified pictures of Regina and Patricia. There was also white towels with blood on them. Victims had mentioned before that Robert would place white towels underneath them before he tortured them.

Robert Benjamin Rhoades was convicted of the first degree murder of Regina Kay Walters in 1994. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, whilst he was serving this sentence he was extradited to Utah to be tried for the murders of Patricia Candace Walsh and her husband Douglas Zyskowski but the families of both victims couldn't face being put through the trauma again and dropped the charges. He was sent back to prison to continue his sentence. He was later extradited to Texas and tried for the murders of Regina Kay Walters and Ricky lee Jones. He managed to get out of receiving the death penalty by doing a deal to plead guilty to the murders of Regina and Ricky. He was given a second life sentence and went back to prison where he was originally serving his sentence despite his convictions in Texas.

Robert Benjamin Rhoades is now 74 years old and will be in prison until death. He is one of the most dangerous and sadistic serial killers that I have come across and it's even more horrifying to think that he had been doing this for such a long time and that there are people out there who he had murdered and disposed of and their families will never get closure.

I would like to thank Shilo for bringing this case to my attention. Please check out his amazing guitar skills on Twitter and Instagram

I touched on this case briefly in this post as I had limited time but I would advise you to check out Alva Busch's book on the case 'Roadside Prey' which you can find on Amazon

Further reading & sources:

RIP, Regina Kay Walters, Ricky Lee Jones, Patricia Candace Walsh, Douglas Zyskowski and the many others who have lost their lives at the hands of this evil individual which we may never know about.

Thank you for all of your support as always and for checking out my post. See you in the next one x

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Check out some of the true crime cases I have covered previously:

The Stuff Of Nightmares | The Toy Box Killer: David Parker Ray

Beyond Evil: The Murder of Jessica Lunsford 

Death Row Scot: The Kenny Richey Story: Part One

Death Row Scot: The Kenny Richey Story: Part Two

Death Row Scot: The kenny Richey Story: Part Three

Don't Talk, Just Listen...The Weepy Voiced Killer

Amityville | The DeFeo Murders

What Really Happened To Mavis Bran? 

Nowhere To Run: The Marilyn McKenna Story | Part One

 Unsolved : Part Three: The Highway Of Tears & The Disappearance Of Maddy Scott 

Unsolved: Part Two | What Happened To Melanie Melanson? 

- Unsolved: Part One | Molly Bish & Holly Piirainen 

The Dark Side of The Internet: The Amanda Todd Story 

The Story of Bible John

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1 comment:

  1. Wow is so similar to the toy box killer. But this one was on the move. I feel so so sorry for the family's that have no idea about there missing family members and like you said they will not have the Closure they need. Very well written and to the point. R. I. P. To all the victims and to the ones that have not been found yet. And to the family's 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹