In a state that is known for expediting the death of convicted criminals who have been given such a sentence by the court, one serial killer has reached a deal that will keep him alive but behind bars for the rest of his life.
A West Texas judge agreed to give Robert Ben Rhodes two life sentences for murdering a hitchhiking couple two decades ago. He already is serving a life sentence for killing a 14-year-old girl in Illinois, who he murdered with baling wire and a piece of lumber, so there is assurance that, either in Illinois or Texas, Rhodes never will experience life around a prison cell again.
Rhodes picked up a newlywed couple outside of El Paso back in 1990 as they traveled from Seattle to Georgia as evangelists. The man’s body was found discarded along a Texas interstate; the remains of the woman, Patricia Walsh, were discovered later by hunters in Utah and not positively identified for more than a decade.
A look inside the cab of Rhodes truck gives some indication of the torture that Walsh endured for the week or so that authorities believe Rhodes kept her alive. His vehicle, which led to his arrest when police stopped to check on it along the side of an interstate and discovered an injured woman crying and being held against her will, had chains for shackling women to the wall and whips that he used to beat them. Similar contraptions of violence, as well as photographs showing the bound girl he eventually killed in Illinois, were discovered in his apartment in Houston, Texas.
Rhodes already is 66 years old, but perhaps in the time he does have left, psychologists will have the opportunity to talk with him and learn more about a mind that operates in such a sadistic manner. To hold hysterical and terrified women in your truck, to brutally violate and then murder time and again, to have no regard for the humanity of others—I don’t understand it but the study of such personalities will continue to fascinate me.
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