Thursday, March 30, 2017

George Weakley Rhodes: The Bathtub Killer



George Weakley Rhodes, sometimes known as "Old School," is no stranger to violence against women. In 2002, he and Marsha Simpson worked together for the City of Florence Recycling Program. Friends said the two had dated, but quarreled.

Prosecutors say Rhodes waited outside Simpson's home in East Florence for her to return. No one can be sure of his plans, but we can be sure that when Rhodes saw his former girlfriend walking home in the company of another man, he drew his gun and shot several times. No one was injured, but Florence Police charged Rhodes with attempted murder. After a deliberation of only an hour, a jury found George Rhodes not guilty of the charges.

We can understand how they came to their verdict. After all, who doesn't take a gun to visit his old girlfriend? Who doesn't fire the gun in her direction because he's so elated to see her with a rival? Obviously, this verdict falls under the category of "What Were They Thinking?"

Rhodes had previously led a less than perfect life. Among his many previous charges were a 1971 armed robbery of a grocery store on West Mobile Street and a 1999 armed home invasion style robbery of an East Florence residence. We will assume Rhodes' record of violence was not allowed into testimony at his 2002 trial.

Neither did Rhodes remain a stranger to law enforcement after his acquittal. In January 2006, he was arrested in Florence for forgery. In March 2007, Rhodes was arrested in a drug bust targeting dealers who waited for children at a school bus stop on the corner of Cedar and West Mobile Streets. At this time, Rhodes was charged only with possession.

Drugs seemed to play a large role in "Old School's" life, but so did violence--probably each fueling the other. In September 2010, the 61 year-old Rhodes agreed to a plea bargain in the death of Deborah Elaine Oldham Paulk. The south-central Florence woman was murdered in her bath tub either during or after an ongoing New Year's party in January of 2005. Paulk may not have had the best taste in recreational activities or friends, but murder is murder. Court records indicate Rhodes threatened to kill Paulk's mother if she testified against him.

George Weakley Rhodes served only five years in prison; however, we understand Paulk's family felt there was no choice if they wanted a 100% guarantee Rhodes would serve any time at all in a case that was already five years old. Perhaps George, by then in his seventh decade and with a body damaged by years of drug abuse, did not find prison so easy. Nevertheless, Ms. Paulk deserved more.



In June 2015, Florence police arrested George Weakly Rhodes, Jr, 66, in the assault of two men in East Florence. Reports indicated that Rhodes and several other subjects were drinking at a residence when a dispute over alcohol turned violent. Rhodes was accused of assaulting the two men with a nail clad piece of lumber, and both victims were treated at a local hospital for their injuries. Rhodes was arrested without incident and was taken to the Lauderdale County Detention Center without bond.

George Weakley Rhodes Jr., aka Old School, aka the Bathtub Killer, is currently serving a three year sentence in the Limestone Correctional Facility. His anticipated release date is June 14, 2018. According to the Department of Corrections, Rhodes will not have a parole consideration date; this is the sixth state incarceration for the former drug dealer known as “Old School.” He will be 68 years-old when released; we don't think this is the end of the story.


Taken from material first published in Shoalanda Speaks and Pen-N-Sword. PNS material used with permission.