Who Committed the Texarkana Moonlight Murders?

The Texarkana Moonlight Murders, was a term coined by the news media, to refer to a series of unsolved crimes committed by the Phantom Killer, a.k.a. the Phantom Slayer in 1946.

The killer is believed to have attacked 8 people, killing 5, within 10 weeks.

The victims were:

  • Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne Larey — Late Friday night, just before midnight, on February 22, 1946, Hollis, 25, and his girlfriend, Larey, 19, were attacked while parked on a secluded road.  The attack happened 50 feet off of Richmond Road.  A flashlight was used to blind Hollis and he was severely beaten.  They were threatened with a gun and Larey was sexually abused, but both survived.
    • Attacker description:  The attacker was wearing a mask, but had dark-tanned skin.  He was about 6 ft. tall.  He was described as younger than 30.
  • Richard Griffin and Polly Moore — Griffin, 29, and his girlfriend, Moore, 17, were found dead on Sunday, March 24, 1946 by a passing motorist.  They were killed on South Robison Rd.  Both were shot to death.  It was not determined if there was a sexual assault.  They were last seen at a cafe on West 7th St. a.k.a. U.S. Highway 67 West.
  • Paul Martin and Betty Jo Booker — On April 13, 1946 (a Saturday night), Booker, 15, was playing a gig (she was an alto saxophonist in The Rythmaires) at the local VFW on W. 4th and Oak St.  She finished at 1:30 a.m. Sunday and waited for her friend, Martin, 16, to pick her up.  Both Booker and Martin were found dead the next day.  Martin was found on the side of North Park Rd.  He had been shot to death.  Booker’s body was found 2 miles away, behind a tree (25 yds. off of Morris Lane).  She had been shot to death as well.  Their car was found 1.5 miles away from Martin and 3 miles from Booker.  It is unclear whether Booker was sexually assaulted.
  • Virgil and Katie Starks — On Friday, May 3, 1946 before 9 p.m., Virgil, 37, was sitting in the living room listening to the radio, while his wife, Katie, 36, was lying in their bedroom.  Two shots were fired into Virgil’s head through a window about 3 feet away.  Katie immediately called the police upon realizing that her husband had been shot.  She was shot twice in the face through the same window.  She attempted to get a gun the couple owned, but was blinded by her blood.  She could hear the attacker attempting to enter the house.  So she ran to the nearest neighbor’s house for help.  Mrs. Starks survived.
    • The only definitive evidence found at the scene was a black and red flashlight.

The m.o. established for the killer was that he attacked young couples in private areas.  Always on weekends, always late at night, and usually 3 weeks apart.  He mostly used a .32 caliber pistol, but used a .22 caliber rifle in the Starks attack.

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