Robert Ben Rhoades, a.k.a. "The Truck Stop Killer", is an American rapist and serial killer.


Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Rhoades was raised alone by his mother, but his father eventually returned to live with them. During high school, he was arrested twice, the first for tampering with a motor vehicle and the second for fighting. After graduating Monticello High School, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps but was arrested again for robbery and subsequently dishonorably discharged. On that same year, his father committed suicide shortly after being arrested for molesting a 12-years old girl. After his father's death, he moved out and attended college but dropped out and attempted to become a police officer but was not hired for unknown reasons (presumably for his prior incarcerations). A year later, he returned to Council Bluffs and had a son with his first wife, with whom he had a divorce after four years of marriage. He married two more times on the same year and managed to get multiple jobs at different locations, such as supermarkets and warehouses. Rhoades eventually became a truck driver and took advantage of his constant movements to start serial killing. Before doing so, he had converted the interior of his truck into a torture chamber in order to get more sexual pleasure from torturing his victims.

Killings, Arrest and Incarceration

Rhoades' first known victims were two hitchhikers: Douglas Scott Zysknowski and Patricia Candace Walsh. Shortly after entering his truck, Douglas was shot and killed while Candace was brutally raped and tortured for one week before being killed. He dumped Douglas' body in Texas and Candace's body in Utah. One month later, using the same M.O., he killed a teenager named Ricky Lee Jones and abducted his girlfriend, Regina Kay Walters. She was kept by Rhoades for an unspecified amount of time before dying. Months later, a state trooper, Mike Miller, investigated Rhoades' truck, which was found lying at the side of Interstate 10 with its hazard lights on. Inside, he found a handcuffed woman. Panicking after realizing the authorities may be onto him, Rhoades attempted to manipulate Miller out of arresting him, but failed; he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, sexual assault, and unlawful imprisonment.

The woman told the detectives and investigators that she had been tortured and whipped, and that Rhoades told her he was known as "Whips and Chains" and had been involved in such activity for years. Later, another woman was found, telling a similar story of torture to that of the first woman. After his arrest, a detective managed to link Rhoades to the Zysknowski-Walsh and Jones-Walters murders. As a result, a search warrant was requested. Inside Rhoades' house, police found nude photos of Walsh and Walters. The latter's body was found and identified months later. Four years later, Robert was convicted of the first-degree murder of Walters and sentenced to life in prison without parole at Menard Correctional Center. In 2005, Rhoades was extradited to Utah to be tried for the murders of Zyskowski and Walsh. The charges were dropped one year later and Rhoades was sent back to Menard Correctional Center, where he is currently being held. Using his trucking logs as clue, further investigation revealed that Rhoades could be responsible for exactly 50 unsolved murders across the U.S.

Modus Operandi

All of Rhoades' known victims were young couples and hitchhikers. He would fatally shoot the male victim with an unidentified firearm and then keep the female victim locked in his "torture chamber" for a long period of time. During that time, he would rape and torture them, and after a while, Rhoades would then kill them by strangling them with a ligature. In Walters' case, he took her to an abandoned barn, forced her to dress in black clothing, and took a picture of her, before strangling her to death and leaving her body at the barn.

Known Victims


The infamous photo of Regina Kay Walters moments before being killed by Rhoades

  • Unspecified date: A robbery (details unknown; was arrested and charged)
  • Unspecified date: An unnamed schoolmate: (Assaulted; fought in public)
  • November 1989: Unnamed victim (possibly; unconfirmed)
  • 1990:
    • January: Douglas Scott Zysknowski and Patricia Candace Walsh:
      • Douglas Scott Zysknowski, 25 (shot)
      • Patricia Candace Walsh, 24 (tortured and strangled with an unspecified ligature)
    • February: Ricky Jones and Regina Walters:
      • Ricky Lee Jones, 14 (killed by unknown causes, presumably shooting; his body was never found)
      • Regina Kay Walters, 14 (tortured and strangled with an unspecified ligature)
    • April: Unnamed woman (attempted)
    • Unspecified date: Unnamed woman (attempted)
  • Note: Rhoades is suspected of having claimed a total of 50 victims across the U.S.

On Criminal Minds

Rhoades' habit of torturing and killing people inside a truck which doubled as a torture chamber is very similar to the M.O. of prolific serial killer Frank Breitkopf, though Frank was a much more organized individual during his killings.


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