Alaska man accused in 1993 Utah cold-case murder appears in court

Courts • Stephen Ellenwood is charged with aggravated murder in the 1993 slaying of Grace Mae Odle.
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Ogden • An Alaska man accused of murdering a 92-year-old woman two decades ago appeared in court Wednesday.

This is the first time Stephen P. Ellenwood, 40, has appeared in person at the 2nd District Courthouse. He is charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, in the May 1993 death of Grace Mae Odle.

He hardly spoke during Wednesday's appearance, where a Sept. 14 date was set for Ellenwood and his public defender to decide whether they want a preliminary hearing.

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 he was extradited to Utah earlier this month.

On July 19, the defendant made his initial court appearance via a video link with the Weber County Jail, where he is being held without bail.

Twitter: @jm_miller