A woman believes she narrowly escaped being murdered by notorious truck stop killer, Robert Ben Rhoades, 27-years ago.
Vanessa Veselka was just 15 years old when she hitched a ride from a stranger in the Carolinas.
When he turned on her with a hunting knife she thought she was going to die, only to bizarrely be told to ‘run’ after begging for her life.
She never reported the incident and it wasn’t until a friend sent her a news story about the serial killer – whose rig was equipped with a traveling torture chamber – just a few months ago that she realized she may have narrowly escaped death.
Veselka, 43 – the author of critically acclaimed book Zazen – recalled the terrifying moments to GQ magazine describing how the man she believes was Rhoades turned on her just minutes into their journey.
“He took out a hunting knife and told me to get into the back of the cab,” wrote Veselka who now knows Rhoades shackled, raped and tortured young girls for days in the back of his vehicle before killing them.
“I began talking. I said I wouldn’t go to the cops if nothing happened to me, but it was his choice until he looked at me and I went still.
“He wasn’t nervous, angry or excited. He was grave and methodical as if preparing to dress a deer. There was going to be no more talking. I knew in my body that it was over.
“Then he said one word: ‘Run.’”
Veselka hid in the bushes until she saw the truck pull away. She never reported the incident to police and hardly told a soul about it.
Years later when she began researching Rhoades – who was already in prison for the killing of 14-year- old Regina Walters and had been charged with a series of 1990 abductions – she thought she had encountered the same man.
She went on a mission to discover if the violent trucker she met was indeed the sadistic killer who was behind bars.
After speaking to his ex-wife, Deborah Rhoades and following a thread of clues, including matching up his trucking logs with the locations of unsolved murders before his arrest Vaselka finally decided to send him a letter.
But what she got back from him didn’t clear up her suspicions.
“It said he would see me if I promised never to say that I had seen him or what had passed between us,” she wrote. “It was just the kind of promise a sexual predator or child molester would try to extract. He also wanted $500.”
Veselka told him journalistic standards didn’t allow her to pay for interviews, and when Rhoades unexpectedly wrote her back he arrogantly suggested she could pay him as an ‘expert’.,
“But an expert in what, I thought, killing? At the bottom of the yellow legal paper, scrawled in caps he wrote, ‘IT WASN”T ME!!!’ I looked at the letter. He may be right, but certainly not because he’s innocent.”