- Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

June 8, 2014

Suspect in ricin plot had Ada ties


Ada — Ties to Ada

Rhoads last attended ECU in the spring of 2004, when he was classified as a sophomore and was working toward a bachelor’s degree in mass communication.

Ardmore resident Ellen Satchell Roberts, an acquaintance of Rhoads who had classes with him at ECU, said she was surprised to learn that he had been charged with soliciting murder.

“I was reading a news article about someone being arrested in a murder-for-hire plot and thought there was no way it was him, so I was pretty shocked when it did turn out to be the Preston Rhoads I knew,” she said in a Facebook message to a reporter. “I didn’t know him well and haven’t kept in contact with him at all since college, but I would never have suspected something like that of him.”

Roberts said she did not know Rhoads well in college, but she described him as a nice guy who was kind of a flirt and was always making jokes.

The story took a bizarre twist in early May, when two men broke into Rhoads’ home and were possibly exposed to ricin, The Oklahoman reported in its May 8 edition.

Oklahoma City police officers found the suspects, 32-year-old Ramon Stephens and 34-year-old Kevin Phillips, removing items from Rhoads’ home after someone called to report a burglary. Police later found water bottles and a surround-sound system in their car, which had been backed into the garage.

Stephens told authorities that he did not know Rhoads.

Oklahoma County jail officials were notified about the incident and isolated Stephens and Phillips when they were taken to the jail, The Oklahoman reported. The inmates were cleared by medical staffers, and officials did not believe that they posed a threat to anyone at the jail.

Stephens and Phillips have posted bond and been released from the jail. A court date has not been set for them yet.

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