No really, don't hitchhike
In the late 1980s, former Marine Robert Ben Rhoades operated an 18-wheeled torture chamber. Nicknamed the "Truck Stop Killer," he converted the sleeper cab of his long-haul truck into a torture chamber, kidnapped women, and kept them prisoner for days or weeks at a time while torturing and raping them before killing them and dumping their bodies on the side of the road.
Rhoades' first confirmed kill happened in January, 1990. He picked up a married couple who were hitchhiking along the highway. Rhoades killed the husband and dumped the body in Texas, but kept the wife for a week before he finally killed her and dumped her body in Utah.
Rhoades was finally caught by an Arizona state trooper named Mike MIller who got curious when he spotted an 18-wheeler parked on the shoulder of the road with its flashers on. When the trooper investigated, he found Rhoades torturing a screaming, handcuffed woman in the back of the truck. Miller didn't believe Rhoades' protestations that it was consensual, so he hauled them back to the station, and eventually unraveled what may have been one of the most prolific serial killers in America. Although Rhoades was a smooth talker with an explanation for everything under questioning, it didn't square with the terrified and badly injured woman with a frightening account of the hours since Rhoades had offered her a ride in a truck stop café the night before.
Rhoades was prosecuted for three murders, and begrudgingly has admitted there may have been a few more. But experts believe that at his height, Rhoades was kidnapping and murdering an average of three people a month while he was on the road. Given that Rhodes' career as a trucker lasted 15 years, that's a pretty horrifying body count.
Like many serial killers, Rhoades primarily preyed on prostitutes, drug addicts, and runaways. He picked up many women from the truck stops where they are colloquially known as "lot lizards." When these women went missing, no one noticed, questioned, or mourned their absence. And as a long-haul trucker, Rhoades was able to pick women up in one state and dump them in another, their bodies scattered across the map, an invisible pattern.
It's hard to say how many more victims of the Truck Stop Killer are out there unidentified. But no doubt dozens, if not hundreds more people would have been tortured and killed if Mike Miller hadn't gone snooping around a semi truck that seemed a little bit off.