Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

 
 

High-tech search led police to alleged murderer

 


A Haines man charged with the 1993 rape and murder of an elderly woman in Utah was tracked to Haines after Utah cold case detectives ran Ellenwood’s name through a Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) database system.

Detectives with the Ogden City Police Department’s Major Crimes Cold Case unit ran Stephen Ellenwood’s name through the high-tech system after connecting him to the rape and murder of 92-year-old Mae Odle and sexual assault of 57-year-old Elizabeth Bell via DNA evidence.

Ogden Lt. Danielle Croyle, who worked on the Ellenwood case, said the RTCC program culls millions of pieces of information from public and private databases, nationwide criminal records, and other sources.

“It’s a compilation of various public websites and paid websites where we can look at drivers’ licenses and information and try to match it up, and ultimately we were able to put (Ellenwood’s) name through the databases and came up with his address in the (Haines) area,” Croyle said.

The Odle and Bell cases were reopened in 2003 when detectives sent DNA evidence gathered from Bell’s rape to the Utah State Crime Lab. Bell’s assault occurred about three hours after Odle’s and approximately two blocks away from the retirement home where Odle had been raped and beaten.

Bell’s assailant, who matched Ellenwood’s description, sexually assaulted her, stabbed her twice, and took her purse.

Croyle said she doesn’t know whether Ellenwood will face charges for the crimes committed against Bell. “We don’t know what the charges are going to be at this time because of the statute of limitations,” she said.

On October 10, 2012, the crime lab informed detectives that the biological evidence collected from Bell’s case turned up a match: Stephen Ellenwood. Because detectives strongly believed the two cases were connected, they performed additional DNA testing to confirm Ellenwood was also involved in the Odle murder.

“DNA from Ellenwood basically cleared up two cases,” Croyle said.

Ellenwood’s DNA was not in the system until he served time in Idaho for aggravated assault. He was released in 2008.

Ellenwood this week was in custody at the Lemon Creek Correctional Facility in Juneau. According to court records, he was arraigned for being a fugitive from justice on May 9.

Whether Ellenwood will challenge extradition to Utah is still unknown, Croyle said. “If he wants to waive extradition, then we can come pick him up ASAP. If he chooses to fight it, then we’ll have to go through that judicial process,” she said.

Ellenwood’s fugitive from justice case is being handled by public defender Timothy Ayer. A status hearing is scheduled for June 4.