When a state trooper found a nude woman chained up and terrified in the cab of Robert Ben Rhoades's vehicle, he inadvertently stumbled upon a sadistic serial killer who had been using his job as a long-haul truck driver to find vulnerable victims for years. Upon searching Rhoades's vehicle, officials found he had converted his semi-truck into a mobile torture chamber, allowing the middle-aged husband and father to torment and abuse women as he crisscrossed the United States.
When they visited his home, they uncovered a number of disturbing photographs, taken right before he murdered one of his teenage victims - photos that are perhaps even more disturbing than Rhoades's mobile torture chamber. It was clear Rhoades had been using the relative anonymity of the nation's highways to spread terror throughout the nation.
He Murdered A Couple Who Were On Their Honeymoon
Eventually, law enforcement discovered Robert Ben Rhoades was a serial killer, in addition to being a sexual sadist who enjoyed torturing women and girls. His first known murder victims were 28-year-old Douglas Zyskowski and his wife, 24-year-old Patricia Walsh, a couple he'd picked up as hitchhikers at the end of 1989 near El Paso, Texas. Walsh and Zyskowski had recently gotten married, and they had decided to travel from their hometown of Seattle, Washington, to Georgia.
They were both deeply religious, and they had intended to preach about Christianity when they reached the east coast. However, shortly after they accepted a ride from Rhoades, the middle-aged trucker shot Zyskowski and dumped the 28-year-old's corpse near a Texas highway.
After dispatching with her new husband, Rhoades allegedly held Walsh captive for approximately one week, repeatedly torturing and abusing the young woman, before shooting her to death and disposing of her dead body in central Utah. Sadly, while the remains of both Zyskowski and Walsh were discovered shortly after they were murdered, it took years for both of them to be identified and returned to their families.
He Tortured And Murdered A 14-Year-Old Girl
Approximately one month after killing Patricia Walsh, Robert Ben Rhoades picked up 18-year-old Ricky Lee Jones and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Regina Kay Walters, not far from their hometown of Pasadena, Texas. According to law enforcement officials, almost immediately after he picked up the hitchhiking runaways, Rhoades killed Jones and dumped his corpse in Mississippi.
As with Patricia Walsh, the trucker didn't murder Walters right away. Instead, police suspect he held the teenager captive for at least two weeks, subjecting her to sickening acts of torture and rape, before he strangled her to death with a garrote and dumped her corpse in an abandoned barn in Illinois. However, before he killed the 14-year-old, Rhoades took several haunting images of Walters that the authorities eventually recovered from his home.
He Documented His Crimes With Photographs
After Robert Ben Rhoades was arrested for kidnapping and assaulting the 27-year-old woman a state trooper found chained and screaming inside his truck, law enforcement officials searched his apartment in Houston, Texas. In Rhoades's home, they discovered a number of disturbing items, including makeup, women's clothing, a blood-covered towel, bondage magazines, whips, and handcuffs.
The authorities also found several photographs, including pictures of Regina Kay Walters that appeared to have been taken in the abandoned Illinois barn shortly before she was killed. In some of the images, the 14-year-old is nude, and law enforcement realized Rhoades had shaved Walters's pubic hair. In other photos, she's clothed, wearing a black dress and high heels, and the teenager appears extremely frightened and upset.
He Tormented The Family Of One Of His Victims
After torturing Regina Kay Walters for at least two weeks, Robert Ben Rhoades decided to torment the 14-year-old's family by calling her father both at home and at work to taunt him about his missing daughter. Approximately one month after Walters went missing, her father received anonymous phones calls that were eventually traced to cities in Texas and Oklahoma where law enforcement officials later determined Rhoades was working at the time the calls were made.
The caller told Walters's father he'd cut his teenage daughter's hair, and when the authorities searched Rhoades's apartment, they found Regina Kay Walters's notebook with her father's phone numbers written inside.