Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories recap: “The Phantom Killer”
In 1946, the town of Texarkana is rocked by a series of brutal attacks known as the Moonlight Murders, where couples are targeted anywhere from lover’s lane to their own homes. A crazed serial killer called the “Phantom” is on the loose, and universal fear throws the once lively community into a ghost town – terrified residents shutter themselves inside their homes, armed to the teeth with guns. Before the attacks, the people of Texarkana never boarded up their windows or barred their doors, let alone lock them.
No one can be too careful. The Phantom’s face has never been seen, always hidden by a white mask and the darkness of the night. This murderer, notorious for pulling a gun on his victims, could be anyone. Yet despite his deadly appetite, the hysteria gripping Texarkana makes it far more likely for someone to be shot by a neighbor than the Phantom himself. So don’t go anywhere without telephoning ahead first, because there is too a good chance unannounced, unexpected visitors will get a belly full of buckshot.
Show hosts Carter and Wenndy of the Parcast podcast series Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories examine the clues and eye witness accounts of this chilling case. Will they be able to unmask the Phantom Killer?
A camp counselor tells a group of young campers a scary story about two teenagers who narrowly escaped the “The Hookman” on lover’s lane. Spooked by a scratching noise coming from somewhere outside, and a radio news bulletin warning of a hook-handed killer on the loose, the couple leaves. When they get home, they find a hook stuck in the side of the car door. But luckily this classic campfire story is just an urban legend. Right?
Carter and Wenndy don’t think so. They believe the tale of “The Hookman” is based on a series of very real incidents that happened in 1946, Texarkana.
It begins with the young couple Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne Larey. After a double date to the movies, the two head to lover’s lane alone to enjoy more of each other’s company. They were parked for about ten minutes when a man shines a flashlight on their faces and knocks on the window with a pistol. The man, who is later dubbed the “Phantom,” tells them he won’t kill them if they get out of the car. They obey. Then the Phantom tells a reluctant Jimmy to take off his pants, and Mary begs that he complies.
As soon as he does though, the Phantom knocks him out and tells Mary to run. He chases after her and when he catches up to her he yells at her for running. A confused Mary explains that he told her to, but he calls her a liar. The mentally deranged Phantom sexually assaults her with the barrel of his gun. However bruised and battered, she still manages to get away and runs to the nearest house, waking up the owners by pounding on the door.
The police are called and Mary and Jimmy are taken to the hospital. Details of the attack make the front page of the Texarkana Daily News the next day. However, Mary and Jimmy’s tell the police conflicting accounts of what the killer looked like and investigators become skeptical of Mary’s story. Despite Mary’s assertions otherwise, the police believe the attacker was a jealous ex-boyfriend she was trying to protect. Jimmy doesn’t seem to share the police’s jealous ex-boyfriend theory. He predicts the man won’t stop with them, but the next victims won’t be so lucky to get away alive.
Stay tuned for the next episode of Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories “Lover's Lane.” The police manhunt heats up when Jimmy’s prediction comes true and the Phantom Killer’s next attacks are lethal.