Two Salt Lake police detectives visited Idaho's death row this week to talk to a man who is back at the top of a list of suspects in a string of unsolved murders of young women in Utah.
Convicted killer Paul Ezra Rhoades, 31, who was investigated a year ago by local detectives, is the subject of probe by the Salt Lake Homicide Task Force.That investigation is being led by Detective Jim Bell, who said new information has led the task force to believe that Rhoades could be responsible for one or more murders of young women in Utah, Wyoming or Arizona.
The task force's main objective now is to find people locally who may have seen or known Rhoades.
"I know there are some people here in Salt Lake City who know Rhoades and have not come forward, and I think it's because they are afraid of him," said Bell.
But Bell pointed out that nobody should fear the killer, who is locked away on death row in the Idaho State Penitentiary in Boise. That prison has upgraded its security following the escape two years ago of convicted killer Claude Dallas, Bell said.
Rhoades was convicted this year of first-degree murder in the death of Stacy Dawn Baldwin, 21, who was abducted Feb. 28, 1987, from a Blackfoot, Idaho, convenience store, taken outside of town and shot. He was also convicted of fatally shooting Susan Michelbacher, 34, Idaho Falls, who was apparently abducted from a grocery store parking lot on March 19, 1987.
The killer also faces trial in the shooting death of Nolan Hadden, 23, Blackfoot, who was shot to death and robbed while working in an Idaho Falls convenience store.
Bell said Rhoades has been to Utah and nearby states and had access to several vehicles and weapons.
Bell and homicide squad Sgt. Don Bell traveled to Boise Tuesday to talk to Rhoades, who indicated he had been in Utah but denied any involvement in any murders.
"But then again, he denied he killed those people in Idaho," said Sgt. Bell.
Both detectives asked that anyone with any information about Rhoades call Detective Bell at 535-6513.
Sgt. Bell reminded potential witnesses of a $25.000 reward being offered by the Southland Corp., which owns 7-Eleven stores. Carla Maxwell, 20 was shot to death April 25, 1986, while working at a 7-Eleven just off the I-15 exit in Layton. > Maxwell's murder was later linked to the murders of two women. The task forceis also investigationg the unsolved deaths and disappearances of about two dozen women in Utah and surrounding states.
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