The Oregon State Police detective turned to his suspect and asked him if he was "tired of running?"
Robert Collins Rhoden replied that he was, and then he revealed his true name: Lyndal Dale Ritterbush, a convicted sex offender who has been on the run since he escaped from the Utah State Prison 22 years ago.
On Thursday, police in Oregon arrested the 62-year-old Ritterbush in a Salem neighborhood where he has been living under the phony name for years. How police tracked him down was almost by happenstance.
"It was part of an identity-theft investigation," Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings told the Deseret Morning News.
It began Oct. 18 when authorities in Clay County, Neb., notified police that someone was living in Oregon under a Nebraska man's name.
"Somehow he found out this guy is using his ID," Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Jack Ford said Thursday. "The police in Nebraska notified the police in Salem."
On Thursday, agents with the Oregon State Police, the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles, the Social Security Administration and the Clay County, Neb., Sheriff's Office arrested him on suspicion of identity theft.
Oregon State Police said during questioning, detectives still didn't know Rhoden's real name. It was during a police interview that detective Matt Lawson asked the man if he was tired of running. With that question, police said Ritterbush revealed himself.
Fingerprints confirmed it was Ritterbush, who has been on the Utah Department of Corrections' Most Wanted list since his escape in October 1985.
"Ritterbush told detective Lawson that he had been in Oregon for nearly all of the 22 years, most of which was spent in the Salem area where he lived under the alias of Robert Collins Rhoden," Hastings said.
Oregon State Police refused to release any additional details about Ritterbush's life on the run because of an ongoing investigation. He was booked into the Marion County Jail late Thursday on investigation of identity theft and being a fugitive from justice. The Utah Department of Corrections said it has already begun the process to extradite him back to Utah, where he still faces a life sentence for his original convictions.
In 1983, Ritterbush was convicted of incest. He was paroled a year later but returned to prison in 1984 after being convicted of attempted aggravated sex abuse of a child, corrections officials said. His file is so old it pre-dates computer records at the prison.
According to Deseret News archives from 1985, Ritterbush then 40 and another inmate were assigned to the prison dairy to pick up a delivery. They left the truck near some barns and walked away through nearby fields. The other inmate was captured, but Ritterbush remained at large.
At one point, he was added to the FBI's Most Wanted list. Until his capture Thursday, he had been on the Utah Department of Corrections' Most Wanted list for decades, alongside Robert Leon Jackson, who escaped in 1981 and still has not been caught. Both men were profiled recently in a Deseret Morning News article about escaped inmates.Jackson was serving time for a robbery conviction dating back to the 1970s. He would be 73 years old now.
E-mail: [email protected]