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Chief Jim Howell
Florida Highway Patrol

For Release September 10, 2003:

TALLAHASSEE: The Florida Highway Patrol Bureau of Investigations, assisted by the Florida Department of Corrections Fugitive Apprehension Coordination Team, announced today the capture of the FHP's most wanted subject, Walter N. Rhodes, age 53. Rhodes was wanted for absconding from parole for the 1976 murders of FHP Trooper Philip Black and Canadian Constable Donald Irwin at a Broward County rest area. Rhodes, who was on parole for armed robbery at the time of the murders, was sentenced to life in prison. Rhodes was paroled in February of 1994 and traveled to New Mexico that same year. He subsequently failed to meet the terms of his parole and vanished. A warrant for his arrest was issued in Tallahassee in December of 1994.

Rhodes was traced to Oroville, Washington by FHP Bureau of Investigations Lieutenant Paul Henry of the Naples FHP Office. Lt. Henry determined that Rhodes had fraudulently assumed the identity of Michael R. Estes, who resides in the State of Oregon. Rhodes assumed Michael Estes's identity sometime in 1995 in New Mexico, and had fraudulently obtained a Social Security Card and a New Mexico Driver License under that identity. Rhodes subsequently obtained a Washington State Driver License in 1999 and again in September 2003. Rhodes was identified from photographs and by the fact that his left leg is missing. His leg was amputated after he was shot during his initial arrest in 1976.

Rhodes was found to be living in Oroville with his ex-wife, Sara Benjamin-Rhodes. He was arrested by the Okanogan County Washington Sheriff's Department Tuesday evening (September 9) without incident for identity-related and other charges, and is awaiting extradition to Florida. Sara Rhodes was also arrested for Rendering Criminal Assistance while the suspect was in Washington State.

For more details about Walter N. Rhodes, please visit the FHP web page at www.flhsmv.gov/fhp

Charges: Florida Parole Commission Warrant
Various state charges in Washington State – refer to Okanogan County Sheriff's Dept. (509-422-7200)
Investigator: Lt. Paul Henry


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