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Predator trucker pleads guilty in Texas

March 31, 2012 at 12:52 PM   |   Comments

OZONA, Texas, March 31 (UPI) -- A former Texas truck driver whom a prosecutor called "evil" pleaded guilty to the murders of a newlywed couple in 1989.

"I've been a prosecutor since 1979 and it was one of the rare occasions when I was in the court where the defendant walked in and you felt the evil," Texas prosecutor Steve Smith told ABCNews.com after Friday's hearing for Robert Ben Rhoades. "The hairs on my arm stand up right now talking about it."

Rhoades, 66, entered a formal plea to the slayings of Patricia Walsh, 24, and her husband, Douglas Zyskowski, 28, whom he had picked up while they were hitchhiking from Seattle to Georgia where they intended to preach the Gospel.

Zyskowski's body was found dumped along Interstate 10 near Ozona, Texas, in 1990. It was not identified for two more years. Walsh's remains were discovered in Utah later in 1990 and were finally identified in 2003.

Rhoades has been serving a life term in Illinois for the 1990 slaying of 14-year-old Regina Walters. His plea in Texas means he would be locked up in the Lone Star State if for some reason he was ever released by Illinois. "The defendant essentially agreed to stack the life sentences in Illinois, which means he'll never get out," Smith said.

The plea seemingly closed the book on Rhoades chilling career as a serial killer. ABCNews.com said. Rhoades was a "rape, torture and kill" predator who built a hidden compartment in his semi-truck where victims were kept handcuffed as he traveled highways across the United States from his home base in Houston.

Investigators believe Rhoades, who was the subject of the book "Roadside Prey," was responsible for the disappearances of other victims. However, his nomadic nature makes it difficult to pin any other unsolved cases on him. "That was the problem with him," Smith said. "He was on the interstate everywhere."

Topics: Steve Smith
© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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