Fort Negley Nashville Tenn

Fort Negley Nashville Tenn
Nashville Skyline from Fort Negley in Tennessee

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Phantom Killer by James Presley

I just finished the hefty volume with the large title of "The Phantom Killer:  Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Killer Murders: A Story of a Town in Terror" by James Presley the other day.

James Presley has a very personal connection to this case, as he is related to one of the original investigators.  AND, he had been contacted by the main suspect at one time about writing a book on his case!  It definitely gives the book some authority.

I enjoyed this very complete telling of the crimes of the serial killer who terrorized Texarkana in 1946.  A couple of horror films have been made about the incident, and several books have covered the crimes. 

James Presley discusses the entire known events of the crimes (which includes 5 murders and several assaults), the evidence, law enforcement involved, etc.  The crimes were pretty horrifying for the time, as the Phantom at first attacked young couples parked in cars.

Authorities do find a major suspect through tracking some car thefts.  Eventually they even get a statement from the main suspect's wife that is pretty damning.

Presley makes a pretty good argument in this book that the crime was basically solved, but not officially.  The suspect was put away for life, relating to his other crimes, though he does find a way to get out later.  AND, despite some pretty convincing evidence, there were holes in the case against him.

In a lot of ways, this is also an interesting read relating to the handling of crimes and suspects in the 40s.  Its a fascinating time capsule.

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