Lyndal Dale Ritterbush

UTAH STATE PRISON — Lyndal Dale Ritterbush has been gone so long that when he finally returns here, he will be treated like a new inmate.

"He hasn't been around in the system for 22 years," said state corrections spokesman Jack Ford.

Ritterbush, 62, appeared in a Salem, Ore., court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to a charge of identity theft, Marion County Circuit Court clerks said. Utah corrections officials are now making efforts to extradite him back to the same place from which he escaped 22 years ago.

"We'll bring him back to receiving and orientation because he's been gone so long," Ford said. "It also gives us time to evaluate and assess him and see what type of housing is appropriate for him."

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole is expected to schedule a hearing to find out how long Ritterbush should serve for the escape and his original sex abuse conviction. In the 1980s, Ritterbush was convicted of molesting two children. He was about a year into a five years-to-life sentence when he escaped from the Utah State Prison in 1985.

Ritterbush lived quietly in Salem, Ore., under the name of his brother-in-law, Robert Collins Rhoden. He was captured after the real Rhoden, who lives in Nebraska, learned that his commercial driver's license had lapsed in Oregon and reported his identity had been stolen.

Authorities went to Ritterbush's door, where he was arrested on the identity theft charge. Under questioning by Oregon State Police, Ritterbush confessed to who he really was and said he had been living in Salem for most of the time he was on the lam.