Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The mobile torture chamber of serial killer Robert Ben Rhoades

Regina Kay Walters


Last photo taken of Regina Kay Walters.

Fourteen years old, Regina was from a troubled home in Pasadena, Texas. Her older sister had committed suicide eight years before Regina’s disappearance. Her older brother was always getting into trouble with the law. Regina had been living with her father, when she decided she’d come to her mother’s house to live. She’d only been home for three days when she went missing, along with another teen, Ricky Lee Jones, who lived nearby. It turned out that she had met Ricky near their apartment complex and snuck out to meet him again the next day. They were so taken with each other that they decided to run away together and were believed to be hitchhiking to Mexico when they came across the trucker.

At first, police focused on Ricky as the doer. He was the last person to be seen with her, but Ricky didn’t seem to be the violent type—though he’d gotten in trouble here and there, he was seen as too passive to do something like kill Regina.

As the months wore on, Ricky Lee Jones never turned up. It was believed that he, too, had been killed, though his body was never found. When Regina’s mummified and mostly skeletal body was discovered in a barn, it was clear that someone far more sinister had dispensed of her. A wire noose attached to a board of wood had been found around the neck—it had been twisted 16 times, strangling  her to death. The investigators who had found her body were not yet aware of the investigation of Rhoades—nor were they aware of the pictures that had been taken of her just before her death.

And there was another piece of evidence on Rhoades the night he was first taken in for kidnapping. A small wireframe notebook, with the words “Regina” on the front, which contained phone numbers for her father’s work and her mother, grandmother, and other friends. Her father and her grandmother had received odd phone calls telling them that he had their daughter. “I made some changes,” the Tuscon Weekly reported the caller said to Regina’s father, “I cut her hair.”

Another clue in the book: a notation that read, “Ricky is a dead man” accompanied by a drawing of a gun with blood dripping off it. The notebook also had odd notes written in a different handwriting.

Investigators showed the notebook and the handwriting to Debra Rhoades, Rhoades’ wife at the time. Yes, the sexual sadist, serial rapist and murderer had a wife, and her story would be just as horrifying as the victims’.

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