OGDEN — An arrest has been made in a brutal cold case homicide and sexual assault involving a 92-year-old woman 20 years ago.
Stephen Ellenwood, 40, was arrested in Alaska on Wednesday in connection with the killing of Mae Odle at an Ogden retirement home on May 3, 1993. Ogden Police Lt. Danielle Croyle credits several people and groups for the arrest, including investigators from 20 years ago who are now retired but recently helped current detectives get the case solved.
"This was such a heinous crime and it just seemed so egregious, and it impacted a lot of lives, a lot of investigators, a lot of officers' lives, and a lot of people have worked tirelessly over the years to try and make a connection and find out what happened and find the suspect in these cases," she said.
Ellenwood was arrested near the small town of Haines, located in the Alaskan panhandle near Glacier National Park. According to a log from the Division of Alaska State Troopers, its officers and Ogden police went to Ellenwood's residence to arrest him. He tried to run into some nearby woods to hide but was eventually taken into custody.
Ogden police were in Juneau on Thursday, where Ellenwood was being held, to interview him. His arrest brings an end to an investigation that began two decades ago.
On May 3, 1993, about 2 a.m., police believe Ellenwood, who was 21 at the time and living in Ogden, broke into a room at the Adams Place retirement home by climbing through a window. Investigators on Thursday still weren't sure if the original motive was robbery or if the assault was a chance opportunity.
An employee checking up on Odle surprised Ellenwood, who was just putting on his pants, and fled the room partially dressed and ran down the hallway past several other employees, according to police. Odle was taken to a local hospital where she died six days later due to blunt force injuries to her head and chest, Croyle said.
Approximately three hours later, a 57-year-old woman walking to a bus stop in the 500 block of 23rd Street — about two blocks away from the retirement home — was sexually assaulted by a man matching the description from the previous incident.
But despite extensive investigation work by police, no arrests were ever made.
Ellenwood, however, had been arrested and sent to prison several times over the past 20 years on unrelated crimes.
He pleaded guilty in Utah to aggravated assault in 1994, absconding in 1996 and disorderly conduct in 1998. He was in and out of the Utah State Prison from 1995 to 2000. Ellenwood later found himself in Idaho and again in trouble with the law and was sentenced to prison. He was released in 2008.
Meanwhile, Ogden detectives reopened both of the Ogden assault cases in 2003 and with new DNA technology, sent samples to the Utah State Crime Lab. In October of 2012, a computer database matched the DNA evidence found from the assault near the bus stop to Ellenwood's DNA that had been collected by Idaho Corrections staff.
An arrest warrant for Odle's death was issued and sealed on April 26. Utilizing information from databases from the Rocky Information Network, Ogden police were able to track Ellenwood to Alaska.
As of Thursday, no charges have been filed in connection with the second sexual assault.