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Texarkana Moonlight Murders: Still Unsolved

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Unsolved Texarkana Mystery

The Texarkana Moonlight murders are four murders that occurred in 1946 and are still unsolved to this day. They all happened in the Texarkana region in Arkansas and Texas.

A serial killer was on the loose that evaded all attempts to capture him. The unknown perpetrator attacked eight people in total, five of which died over 10 weeks.

The murders had a clear pattern:

  • All the victims were couples.
  • The killer targeted them during the weekends.
  • The victims were killed on "lover's lanes," or quiet stretches of road.

First Attack

On February 22, 1946 at 11:45 p.m., Jim Hollis, 25, and Mary Jeanne Larry, 19, were parked on a secluded road known as Lover's Lane. Just 10 minutes later, a man wearing a white cloth mask appeared at the driver's door, shining a flashlight into the car.

The mask resembled a pillow case with eyes cut out, hiding his identity. Hollis stated that perpetrator must have the wrong car, to which the suspect then said: "I don't want to kill you, fellow, so do what I say."

The killer ordered the pair out of the car and ordered Hollis to remove his trousers. He was then struck in the head twice with a pistol. Larry said the noise was so loud, she thought her boyfriend had been shot.

Hollis had received a fractured skull and a blunt object then struck Mary. When she regained consciousness, the killer told her to run towards the road. The attacker caught up with her and asked her why she was running, even though he had told her to run. He then struck her and sexually assaulted her.

Mary was able to make it to a farmhouse. Hollis eventually regained consciousness and was able to flag down a passing motorist. Both victims gave contrasting descriptions of the attacker. Both said he was 6 feet tall. Hollis said he was a tanned man. Mary stated he was African American.

First Double Murder

On March 24, 1946, a motorist discovered Richard Griffin, 29, and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Polly Ann Moore, dead in Griffin's car. Griffin was found between the front seats on his knees, with his pockets turned out.

Moore was found facedown in the back of the car. Evidence showed she was placed there after being killed outside the vehicle. Both were shot in the back of the head and fully clothed.

Second Double Murder

On April 14, at 1:30, Paul Martin, 17, picked up Betty Jo Booker, 15. Martin's body was found at 6:30 on the left side of North Park Road. He had been shot four times. Booker's body was found five hours later, two miles away. She was shot twice, with the same .32 Colt used in the other murders.

Martin's car was found three miles away from Betty's body. It was never determined who had been shot first. However, there was evidence that they fought with their attacker to stay alive.

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Fifth Murder

On May 3 around 9:00 p.m., Virgil Starks and his wife Katie were on their farm northeast of Texarkana. Virgil was sitting in his armchair when he was shot twice in the back of the head through the window. Katie heard the glass break and ran to see what had happened. Katie was then shot twice in the face as she was calling the police.

After regaining her footing, she ran from the house barefoot to a neighbor's and collapsed. She was taken to a local hospital, where she would eventually recover and later help County Sheriff Davis with the investigation.

Investigation

Many police were part of the manhunt for the unknown murderer. They would often challenge Mary Jeanne Larry's account of the first attack, believing she knew the attacker. They were also concerned that the fifth kill was not connected, as a different gun had been used to shoot Starks. Then by late 1948, they no longer considered the murder connected because the MO was too different.

It was months before they connected the first attack to the other murders. Law enforcement launched a citywide investigation. More than 200 people were questioned, but it led to no substantial leads.

Suspects

Law enforcement investigated countless men, but none matched the killer's profile. In May 1946, a man was found on Kansas City Railway tracks. He was lying face down and it was discovered the man had been killed with a sharp object and then placed on the tracks. The victim was identified as Earl McSpadden and it was believed he was the Texarkana murderer. However, this was never proven.