The Truck Stop Killer: Forced BDSM & 50 Killings

The Criminal Street
9 min readAug 19, 2023
Robert Ben Rhoades The Truck Killer
Robert Ben Rhoades

Robert Ben Rhoades, also known as “The Truck Stop Killer,” was a predator unlike any other. A master of manipulation, he prowled the highways of America, luring unsuspecting victims into his deadly web. His twisted mind meticulously planned each abduction, and his victims chosen with precision reached the number of 50. Truck drivers, nomads of the road, and hitchhikers, often forgotten by society, were his preferred targets. Rhoades saw them as mere pawns in his twisted game of control and sadism.

With his icy blue eyes and a smile that concealed the darkness within, Rhoades presented himself as an ordinary man, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But behind that facade lurked a monster capable of unspeakable acts.

We are here to venture into the heart of darkness, peeling back the layers of a man whose name will forever be etched in infamy. Brace yourselves for a bone-chilling tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat of the last victim of the Truck Killer.

The Story.

Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Robert was first raised by his mother alone but then by both of his parents after his father came back from overseas. Active between 1975 and 1990, he was probably involved in the disappearance of over 50 women with only three murder convictions to his name.

But the murders didn’t happen overnight. The series of this spine-chilling events came under notice in the early hours of April 1, 1990, when Arizona State Trooper, Mike Miller saw a trucker having difficulty due to the hazardous light flashing, and was parked on the curb of Interstate 10 in the city limits of casa Grande. Just after he decided to stop for checking the truck in the nick of time, he witnessed a horrifying chain of events. As he went to open Peterbilt’s cab, he would have never imagined what he was about to find was covered with the layers of blood spilled over Arizona’s borders. Subsequently, what he saw connected to the separate kidnappings from the different states, all shaping up to the deadly homicide. Only the later investigators found that there were at least 50 skeletonized bodies across America, for which Robert Ben Rhoades was responsible. The cruelty he relished with his victims was so drastic that the authorities believed that his murder cases were classic examples of sexual sadism, a frightening psychological disorder.

Stepping into the sleeper cab, Officer Miller saw a nude woman shackled and chained to the wall. She screamed extremely fiercely as she saw Miller, and on the other side, there was a man who scrambled through the curtains which separated the sleeper cabs from the front part. As he looked at the horrific enviornment, he managed to order the man out from the driver’s side. And while he did that, the man informed him that he was carrying a gun. Though the man managed to be smooth and calm, the woman was terrified and still didn’t believe that she would be able to live beyond these torturous days. Miller then decided to take down the trucker, so he went by the hook and handcuffed his wrists at the back, and seatbelted him in the patrol car. As Miller returned to the woman, he saw her severe wounds. She had large red welts on her entire chest body and severe cuts on her mouth. Having a horse bridle strapped around her neck and a chain padlocked to the horse bit, her hands and ankles were cuffed. Miller had covered the lady with a few clothes that he had and called the city of Casa Grande for backup.

Robert Ben Rhoades dressed for a Halloween party
Robert Ben Rhoades dressed for a Halloween party | Source: GQ

As the woman was scared that the trucker would return, Miller managed to get Robert’s hands down to feet and cuff him from behind while fastening him on the seat of the Police vehicle. However, as the trucker managed to bring his hands to the front and unfasten the seatbelt, it was only Miller’s attentiveness that led him to know this and not let Robert kill him and disappear into the sparse.

As Officer Robert Gygax pulled up behind him, Miller was relieved, and very soon, the woman was with the Casa Grande police.

Finally, at the station, the 27-year-old victim, Katie (changed name) felt safe. All her injuries were photographed and she gave every single piece of information about the Truck killer.

In her videotape, she said that she was picked up at Rip Griffin’s truck stop, as she often hitched rides to meet her friends and Rhoades was very polite at the truck stop. When she was asleep, Rhoades took her to the sleeper cab and shackled her. As she screamed for help, Rhoades began to take out his torture items from a briefcase. At first, he covered her chest and back with a vicious whipping that resulted in red welts over the areas. She was not raped, but her nipples and labia were severely punctured with sharp objects.

Robert Ben Rhoades was then interviewed by Detective Barnhart, which carries disturbing details. As a result, Rhoades was booked for the sexual and physical assaults, hence Barnhart sent a teletype to every station and wrote a letter to the judge in Florence, Arizona to detain Rhoades for at least some time till the information come up. Barnhart decided to call Houston Police Department as Rhoades lived there, and it was not long enough that he came to know about an 18-year-old woman whom the Truck Killer booked for at least two weeks. His signature move lay in cutting her hair short and shaving her pubic hair, systematically torturing her till she froze. However, she managed to run away as Rhoades forgot to close the handcuff. But when she came face to face with Rhoades, she refused to say that he was her attacker. However, at a later period, she told about Rhoades, and it was only her fear that she kept his name away at earlier interrogation. With this, there was no proof to keep Rhoades in custody for more. And this, in turn, let the case deliver into the hands of Special Agent Bob Lee. When Lee reviewed every single detail of the victim’s account, he viewed the contents of the briefcase of Rhoades. After looking at every single detail, he was sure that Rhoades might have something which might turn beneficial to the police at his home. And so, after a hussle, he obtained a search warrant for Robert’s home.

The Truck Stop Killer Woman Who Escaped Pamela Milliken
A photograph of Pamela Milliken, the woman who escaped The Truck Stop Killer | Source: Posted by The Law Enforcement

There were handcuffs, whips, bondage magazines, and women’s clothing with photographs of a young teenager with short hair in various stages of undress, shackled and undressed. There was a bondage rake with a white towel drenched in blood. Furthermore, they found pictures of a young teenager, which showed old bruises near her breasts, and shaved pubic hair in the stages of regrowth, which suggested that she might have stayed with him quietly for a while. There were even pictures of her clitoris pierced with a ring, then extending to the chain. The second group of images depicted Regina in a variety of poses, dressed and undressed, with bright red nails and lipstick. And lastly, there was the last set of pictures of the old barn with the girl in them. In between all of these, one of the obstacles here was that the girl can be a willing partner in sadistic sexual acts, and making the picture public could violate her rights. But Lee was sure that the girl was a victim of Robert. It was only nearly a year later when Lee heard Special Agent Mark Young talking about a homicide in the Illinois region. He included details like the victim’s skeleton was found in an abandoned barn loft and that it was confirmed that the 14-year-old victim had short hair with pubic hair shaved before her death. And that took the clue, which let Lee show pictures of the young girl to the agents, which confirmed the victim, Regina K. Walter.

The Chilling Murder of Regina K Walters.

Regina K. Walters used to live with her dad but for some days she came to visit her mother in Houston. However, before the day she went missing, Regina argued with her mother as she wanted to meet her friends, to which her mother said No. As Regina disappointedly slammed the door, her mother thought that this would be the end of the matter, but Regina instead sneaked out of her home. She and her boyfriend, Ricky, asked for a lift from Rhodes, who was polite looking. And they moved east into Louisiana. Moments later, Rhodes shot Regina’s boyfriend but kept his body to himself. After he killed Ricky, they headed to Illinois, where he might have put Regina in his sleeper truck and tied her with a horse chain, stripped her, and done terrible things. In another scene, Regina’s mother informed to Police of her absence as she would have called all of her friends but she wasn’t able to know anything about her. In between all these events when her mother was desperately waiting for her beautiful daughter to reach her back, the police were able to find common friends of Regina and her boyfriend, who later informed them both of them were planning to hitchhike to Mexico as they were in love. It was February 1990, when Regina and her boyfriend were seen, but after months, there was no single signal of their presence.

Regina Kay Walters before meeting Rhoades
Regina K Walters’ photograph taken before meeting Robert Ben Rhoades | Source: YouTube

As almost the year passed, one of the farmers who were to burn out his abandoned barn due to its decaying wooden structure found a desiccated body of a young female in there. The body through dental records was identified to be of Regina K. Walters. The case came in the FBI in early 1991, as earlier it was thought that she might have been kidnapped. Regina was strangled to death with a wire, which was twisted beyond the point needed for death. The forensic reports told that her hair was very short and that her pubic hair was shaved before her death, by which Lee was able to relate Rhoades to the victim. This was the signature aspect of the killer, which gives him psychosexual gratification, which never changes. Before Lee, law enforcement thought that the best suspect in Regina’s murder was 18-year-old Ricky Lee Jones, her boyfriend. However, Young, who took the pain to find the signature aspect of Rhoades knew that Regina was killed by an older man but he wasn’t able to locate her boyfriend. Till now, Jones was not found and was thought to be the murder suspect of Regina, and his family did not report him missing.

When Regina was not found, her father received anonymous phone calls a month after her disappearance. The call told him,

“I made some changes. I cut her hair.”

In addition, he told her father that Regina was in a barn loft, but when Walters asked if she was alive, he hung up the call. The first call was traced to Oklahoma City and then to Ennis, Texas. Though Regina was still missing, the parents knew somewhere inside that she wasn’t alive.

The Investigation.

When Regina Walters’s pictures were seized from Rhoades’s apartment, there was a series when she wore a black dress with oversized heels and a terrific expression. Posing inside the old barn, experts concluded that this was the same barn where she died. Another piece of evidence, which hinted at the place where Regina’s boyfriend was buried was a notebook of Regina Walters. In it, there were unlisted phone numbers of her mother, friends, and grandmother, which explains how Rhoades got in contact with his father. In the same notebook, there was a message,

“Ricky is a dead man,”

with a picture of a gun and blood dripping. And then there were other cryptic notations such as,

“water tank, Fun and Hide.”

Regina Kay Walters | Source: The Police Department

It was Rhoades’s third wife who identified the handwriting of her husband. Regina was killed by strangling through the wire, fourteen times, each one for her age. In September 1992, Rhoades was convicted for the murder of Regina Walters and received a life sentence.

Though Regina got justice after years due to some of the marvelous officers like Miller and Lee there were several other women, who became the unluckiest victims of the truck killer. Robert never confessed to any of their murders, which is why the bodies, though found were not recognized.

Bibliography.

The Truck Stop Killer Stories of True Crime by Ana Benson.

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