NBC’s ‘Dateline: A Flight to Nowhere’ discusses the brutal murder of Robin Bodden in Minden, Nevada, in August 2006. The aviation worker was missing for nearly a month before his decomposed body was found in the Nevada desert. The episode chronicles the investigation that finally helped the police to catch the perpetrator responsible for the crime. If you want to find out more, including the killer’s identity and current whereabouts, we’ve your back. Let’s dive in then, shall we?
How Did Robin Bodden Die?
Robin “Rob” R. Bodden was born to Bertram and Lucille Ellen Ellington on July 7, 1956, in Coral Gables, Florida. After graduating from Reseda High School in California in 1974, he served in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division from 1974-78. Rob returned from the military to graduate from Northrup University in California before shifting to Carson City in Nevada with his family. He eventually settled in Minden, working in general avionics, and owned and operated an aircraft repair shop at Minden-Tahoe Airport.
According to his family, Rob made a reputation as one of the finest aircraft mechanics in the whole valley. His brother, Tim Bodden, painted him as meticulous and caring, who used to call his clients on their plane radios to ensure they were fine. Tim laughed as he recounted the irony that Rob was too afraid to fly, especially in small planes. As his business flourished, he bought his dream house on Johnson Lane with a white picket fence and a sweeping view of the mountains.
Just when his family had given up on the hope of Rob ever getting married or having a family, he met Karen Bodden at the airport. She had secured a job fueling airplanes, and they met at the airport almost daily. Rob’s sister, Barbara Bodden, said, “I think he admired her for being a single mom and caring for her kids the best she could. He liked that nurturing thing about mothers and women.” The couple romanced for about a year before deciding to tie the knot in the summer of 2000.
Karen moved into Rob’s Minden house with all her four children from her previous marriage, and they seemed like one big happy family. One of Karen’s daughters, Katie Rasor, reminisced, “He was the most amazing guy my mom had ever met. He treated us like he was, you know, like our dad. It was amazing to see them together.” Thus, it was a shock when Rob disappeared on August 16, 2006, and his body was discovered about a month later in the desert, on September 10.
According to the autopsy report, the 50-year-old died instantly from a gunshot wound to the brain stem from the rear base of the skull and another to the right side of the head above the ear. Rob’s body was in advanced decomposition, and he had been shot with a .22 caliber gun. The corpse was wrapped with a blue blanket and some clear plastic wrap with the help of blue tape and duct tape. The police also found a knife by the body, which eventually became crucial evidence that helped solve the homicide.
Who Killed Robin Bodden?
When Rob disappeared on August 16, Karen did not call the police. The authorities were not notified before August 27 when his sister, Barbara, could not reach him and informed them. The officers interviewed Karen to learn her husband had reportedly flown with some guy named Ramos on his Cessna 421 Golden Eagle. She further told the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office investigators that she was not worried and knew Rob was allegedly repairing airplanes for drug runners. Hence, she did not call the police as she did not want to involve law enforcement.
However, the officers found the story a little absurd for them to believe. They learned Rob and Karen had a rocky marriage due to his supposedly fiery temper and overcontrolling nature, as claimed by Katie. The detectives even talked with other airport employees to discover they had not seen any white-colored 421 Golden Eagle with red pin-striping on it land at the airport in about a month. Moreover, they checked with FAA and found no flight plans filed for a Cessna 421 Golden Eagle at the Minden Tahoe Airport in August.
Karen gave the investigators a note that Rob had posted his hangar door the day he flew away. She said that he had put the note on the door where it was typewritten about being gone for the day. Not only that, she had reportedly added stuff to help clarify to anybody asking questions about his whereabouts. The officers grew more suspicious when one of Rob’s friends, Kelly Rosser, informed them he had let himself inside Rob’s shop to find tools scattered all around – it was highly uncharacteristic of him since he always arranged them even if he went out for lunch.
As the investigators probed more and more, Karen’s story seemed to fall apart gradually. Since he had supposedly flown away, Rob had not used his ATM or credit cards. They searched the house on August 29, and one of the officers noticed that a black-handled steak knife was missing from Karen’s butcher block in the kitchen. When Rob’s body was found in the desert, they found the missing knife by his body. Besides, the officers searched the house again to discover two duplicate type-written letters signed by Rob.
According to the show, the letters were addressed to the police and stated Rob had found “a better life” and wanted his wife to have all his property. To the investigators, it seemed the perfect cover-up letters, and they insisted the documents were not there during their first search. The police further learned Karen had been out on probation after embezzling $44,000 from the Department of Motor Vehicles, where she worked earlier. In addition, Rob’s friend, Kelly, told them she had stolen about $10,000-$12,000 from Rob’s credit card without telling him.
Where is Karen Bodden Now?
Karen Bodden was arrested the following day after Rob’s body was discovered and charged with first-degree murder and enhancement for using a deadly weapon. She was held at Douglas County Jail on $1 million cash bail. During her 2008 trial, the prosecution alleged Rob had decided to turn his wife in for stealing from him on August 16, 2006. Fearing she might end up in prison, Karen had shot him with the missing gun that used to hang in Rob’s shop.
Karen then used the hydraulic lift to haul the body into Rob’s truck before disposing of it in the desert. Though she denied all the charges, a jury convicted her of both charges. Karen was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years and a minimum of four years of a 10-year enhancement for using a deadly weapon, to be served consecutively. The 60-year-old is currently serving her sentence at the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
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