Suspect in '92 Ogden killing gave Alaska co-worker a ‘weird vibe’

May 10 2013 - 6:29am



OGDEN -- Stephen Phillip Ellenwood, arrested Wednesday by police in a tiny Alaska town for the 1993 homicide of a 92-year-old Ogden woman, was likeable but also had a dark side, according to a former co-worker.

"Everybody loved his laugh," Daniel Lundberg, who worked with Ellenwood at Quick Shop, a convenience, sporting goods and liquor store in Haines, Alaska, said in a phone interview Thursday.

However, Ellenwood, 40, also told Lundberg he and his family wouldn't hesitate to fight if provoked.

"They wouldn't take no crap," Lundberg said. "He told me stuff that gave me a weird vibe."

Ellenwood and his girlfriend moved in the summer of 2012 from Idaho to Haines, a town of about 2,500 residents about 95 miles northwest of Juneau, said Lundberg. Ellenwood was employed at Quick Shop for about two months, but was fired because he repeatedly failed to report to work due to a drinking problem, he added.

John Hill, a clerk at the Quick Shop, told the Chilkat Valley News in Haines that Ellenwood was "quiet and pretty mellow." Hill said "yes and no" when asked if he was surprised by the homicide charge.

"It's kind of surprising, but I'm not surprised by much these days anymore," he said.

Ellenwood's girlfriend, Leslie Corless, told the Chilkat Valley News she and Ellenwood moved to Alaska "to get a different start." The two had been dating since 2003 but separated before the arrest of Ellenwood, whom Corless described as "a loner."

According to the Chilkat Valley News, Corless said she was devastated when she found out about the arrest. She said nothing about Ellenwood indicated he was capable of homicide.

Corless's son, Bo Graham, was also stunned to learn about the allegations.

"He's a nice guy," Graham told the Chilkat Valley News. "That would be news to me if he did something like that. He spent time with my kid and everything."

Ellenwood is accused of climbing through a window into Room 105 at Adams Place, a retirement home near the corner of 24th Street and Adams Avenue around 2 a.m. May 3, 1993, and sexually assaulting and beating Mae Odle, according to Ogden police. Six days later, a hospitalized Odle died from injuries to her head, chest and extremities.

Around 5 a.m. on the day of Odle's attack, a 57-year-old woman was sexually assaulted while walking to a bus stop two blocks from Odle's retirement home.

DNA links Ellenwood to both crimes, said Ogden police Lt. Danielle Croyle.

However, charges have not been filed against Ellenwood in the assault on the 57-year-old woman.

After Ogden police received information about the DNA match, Ellenwood's name was searched with help from the police department's Real Time Crime Center and the Rocky Mountain Information Network, said Croyle.

Several public records and state driver's license records were searched. An address for Ellenwood was identified in Alaska, and Ogden police Detective Rick Childress made contact with the Alaska State Police for assistance, Croyle said.

The case was aided by the Utah State Crime Lab, Utah State Medical Examiner's office, Weber County Crime Scene Investigations, Weber County Attorney's Office/Homicide Task Force and the dedication of current and retired members of the Ogden Police Department, said Croyle.

Childress arrived in Haines on Tuesday. Ellenwood was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon shortly after he fled from Alaska state troopers and tried to hide in the woods near his residence on Allen Road in Haines.

Utah authorities on April 26 filed an arrest warrant for Ellenwood and charged him with aggravated murder. They sealed those documents to keep news reports from tipping off Ellenwood.

Ellenwood's criminal history in Utah dates back to the early 1990s. In 1993, he pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony count of aggravated assault, and in 1996 he pleaded guilty to absconding, a third-degree felony.

Five years ago, he was released from an Idaho state prison, where he served a 2002 aggravated assault conviction. In November 1993, he was convicted of carrying a concealed dangerous weapon. In 1994, Ellenwood admitted committing aggravated assault. And in 2001, he pleaded no contest to drunken-driving charges.

Ellenwood is being held in a Juneau jail pending extradition to Weber County.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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