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Alaska man accused in Utah cold-case murder makes first court appearance

Published July 19, 2013 11:03 am

Courts • Stephen Ellenwood is charged with aggravated murder in the death of Grace Mae Odle.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ogden • An Alaska man accused of murdering a 92-year-old woman two decades ago made his initial appearance in the Ogden courthouse Friday.

Stephen P. Ellenwood, 40, is charged in 2nd District Court with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, in the May 1993 death of Grace Mae Odle.

On Friday, he appeared via a video feed from the Weber County jail wearing on orange jail jumpsuit. He hardly spoke during his initial appearance, where a 2nd District judge read the charge against him — emphasizing that the murder charge was heightened to aggravated murder because Odle's death was caused in connection to sexual abuse — and set a July 31 date for Ellenwood to appear in court again with a public defender in front of 2nd District Judge Brent West.

According to an affidavit for an arrest warrant, police were called to Odle's apartment near 24th Street and Adams Avenue in Ogden on May 3, 1993, on a report of a sexual assault.

An employee of the apartment complex, which functioned as a multi-story assisted living center, told police she heard faint cries for help coming from one of the rooms. The employee went to Odle's room, and when she opened the door, a man ran from the room, down the hallway and out the building, according to the affidavit.

Odle, who was beaten and sexually assaulted during the attack, died six days later.

Several hours after Odle was assaulted, a 57-year-old woman reported that she had been stabbed and sexually assaulted while walking to a bus stop a block away from Odle's apartment, according to court documents.

DNA evidence was gathered from that crime scene, but investigators were unable to make a match until October 2012, when it was compared to DNA taken from Ellenwood while he was incarcerated at an Idaho prison from 2002 to 2008 for an aggravated assault conviction.

Once Ellenwood's DNA was matched to the second sexual assault, police were able to compare his fingerprints to a print lifted from Odle's apartment. It was also a match, according to the affidavit.

Ellenwood was arrested at his home in Alaska in May, and was housed at a jail in Juneau until this week. He was booked into the Weber County jail on Wednesday evening, and is being held without bail.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller