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FHP's Most Wanted Fugitive Captured

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Walter Norman Rhodes is
captured in Washington State.

The Florida Highway Patrol's Most Wanted fugitive, Walter Rhodes, was captured September 9th in Tonasket, Washington as the result of coordinated efforts by FHP and the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office. Thanks to an initial alert instigated by Corporal John Schultz and the self-motivation and strong investigative skills of Lt. Scott Henry, Rhodes is once again behind bars.

Rhodes, who was paroled in 1994, but absconded shortly thereafter, thereby violating his parole, had been on the run and hiding out with his ex-wife in New Mexico and Washington under the alias Michael Roderick Estes—an identity he had stolen from an Oregon resident. Rhodes had served an eighteen-year sentence for murdering two law enforcement officers, Trooper Philip Black and Canadian Constable Donald Irwin, at a Florida rest area. Shortly after his parole, Rhodes failed to report to his parole officer. A Florida warrant for his arrest was issued at that time.

Last week, after checking background information on the fugitive and discovering that Rhodes had a last known address in Washington State, Lt. Henry contacted the Washington State Driver's License Bureau and obtained digital photographs of the alias Michael Estes, along with copies of his license application, which indicated that Estes had an artificial left leg. Lt. Henry was aware that Rhodes had had his left leg amputated as a result of being shot by a trooper during his initial capture. Based on this information and the similarities in the photos, Lt. Henry concluded that he had found the fugitive, Rhodes. He immediately contacted the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office requesting assistance in locating and apprehending Rhodes.

The next day, deputies set up surveillance at the Rhodes residence and waited for him to depart in a vehicle. A traffic stop was made, and Rhodes was taken into custody. After confessing to his true identity, Rhodes was charged with identity theft and possession of a firearm. Rhodes will be extradited to Florida where he will face parole violation charges.


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