Twenty years after he allegedly raped and killed a 92-year-old woman in a Utah retirement home, a wanted man living and hiding in Haines is behind bars.
The man, 40-year-old Stephen Ellenwood, ran into the woods Wednesday when Alaska State Troopers showed up at his Allen Road home in Haines with an arrest warrant from Utah. Ellenwood tried to hide but was soon arrested on murder charges in the cold case, troopers said.
The charges stem from the May 3, 1993, sexual assault and fatal beating of Grace Mae Odle in Ogden, Utah, according to an arrest warrant first reported on by the Salt Lake Tribune. A public notice on the Utah Attorney General's web site for cold cases describes the attack:
About 2 a.m., a suspect, now known to be Ellenwood, climbed through a window to get into Odle's ground floor room in a retirement home. He sexually assaulted Odle and beat her.
"The suspect was in the process of getting dressed -- doing up his pants -- when an employee checked on Mae Odle. The suspect fled wearing only his Levi pants," the cold case notice says.
Odle died six days later at a hospital from wounds to her head, chest, arms and legs.
About three hours after the attack on Odle and two blocks away, a man matching the description of Odle's attacker sexually assaulted a 57-year-old woman. Prosecutors think that person was Ellenwood but have not charged him in the case, according to the Tribune.
In a separate case, Ellenwood was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon in November 1993 and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 1994, according to the Tribune. He pleaded no contest to driving drunk in 2001, the newspaper reported.
According to Idaho court records, Ellenwood pleaded guilty to driving drunk in 2004 and again in 2007. He was released from jail in 2008.
The Tribune reported police tracked down Ellenwood using DNA evidence.
Haines resident Dan Lundberg, who worked as a liquor store clerk with Ellenwood, said Ellenwood and his girlfriend moved to the Southeast Alaska community from Idaho in the summer of 2012. By October, Ellenwood had been fired after failing to show up for work one too many times, Lundberg said. The other workers suspected Ellenwood, a barrel-chested man, was drinking during the day before his late shift, Lundberg said.
Lundberg said Ellenwood's deep laugh could be infectious with the other workers, who liked him. But Ellenwood told him a story once about drinking and beating people in Idaho that gave him a "weird vibe," Lundberg said.
"We were co-workers. I hadn't done nothing to him. But I just wondered, 'Wow, what is this guy's past like?' " Lundberg said. "I've always wondered about certain people that just show up up here. You never know anything about these people that come up to little towns in Alaska."
"Something rubbed me weird when he told me that story. Just, 'I wouldn't want to drink with this guy.' "
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.