SONORA, Texas — For 13 years, Patricia Candace Walsh's body sat unidentified in the basement of the Millard County Sheriff's Office.
This week, justice was finally brought to the families of Walsh and her newlywed husband, Scott Zyskowski, who was also murdered, when serial killer Robert Ben Rhoades pleaded guilty in Texas to the couple's deaths.
Rhoades, who was already serving a life sentence in Illinois for the murder of a 14-year-old girl, pleaded guilty earlier this week in Sutton County, Texas, to two counts of capital murder. In exchange for his pleas, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. He was given two life sentences.
Rhoades, 65, was originally scheduled to go on trial Monday. At one point, he was being held in the same Texas jail as FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs while that trial was occurring.
The former long-haul truck driver is believed to have kidnapped and tortured mostly female hitchhikers across the United States. He was the subject of the book "Roadside Prey" by Alva Busch. Rhoades' cab was set up 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 believe that by early 1990, Rhoades was kidnapping and killing an average of three women a month.
In early 1990, Walsh, 24, and Zyskowski, 25, had just been married in Texas and were hitchhiking to their home near Seattle when they were picked up by Rhoades.
Prosecutors believe he killed Zyskowski immediately and dumped his body in Texas. Utah officials believe that for the next seven days, Rhoades held Walsh captive before shooting her multiple times and dumping her body in Millard County. Her badly decomposed corpse was discovered by deer hunters 22 miles south of Fillmore in October 1990. She had been dead for several months.
Dental records and a couple of chance circumstances helped police finally identify Walsh 13 years later.4 comments on this story
A month after Walsh's murder, Rhoades picked up 14-year-old Regina Walters and Ricky Lee Jones, two runaways from Texas. He killed Walters in Illinois and was later convicted of that crime. Jones' body has never been found.
Rhoades was caught on April 1, 1990, in Arizona, where police came across Rhoades' semitrailer while he was in the process of torturing another woman. He was convicted and sent to prison. Just before he was to be released in Arizona, he was extradited to Illinois to stand trial for Walter's death. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2005, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. mailed an executive agreement to the governor of Illinois to have Rhoades extradited to Utah to stand trial. The charge was dropped a month later, however, when Utah agreed to let Texas put Rhoades on trial for the murders of Walsh and Zyskowski at the request of the families.