DREAD: The Unsolved Episode 5: “The Phantom Killer”

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If you’re looking for your next true crime fix, our original series Dread: The Unsolved is here to help… of course if you’re already dealing with vivid nightmares after binge-watching The Ted Bundy Tapes, we can’t offer any relief in that department.

What we can serve you is our next chilling unsolved case, which happened long before Bundy’s reign of terror… or even the notorious Zodiac and Son of Sam killings, or the grisly acts of Ed Gein. In fact, the events of this episode took place in 1946 – roughly three decades before the term “Serial Killer” was even adopted.

It all happened over the span of a few months during that year, in the small Texas town of Texarkana… and it’s all true.

The killing spree came to be known as “The Texarkana Moonlight Murders,” and the unknown perpetrator was dubbed “The Phantom Killer” by the press. You may already know the story, and that indelible image of the hulking man in the white hood (which may have inspired the look of Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th Part 2), thanks to two films bearing the same ominous title: The Town That Dreaded Sundown.

The 1976 version by Charles B. Pierce (The Legend of Boggy Creek), though it presented itself as “The True Story,” took quite a few liberties with the details and filled in a few missing pieces that authorities and crime experts still dispute. The 2014 meta-sequel of the same name focuses more on the notoriety — and subsequent cult popularity — of the Phantom Killer’s reign of terror, and therefore was allowed a bit more freedom with its material.

But today’s episode of Unsolved, posted above, delves into the actual details of the case as reported — including archival photos from several of the actual crime scenes – and the intense manhunt and press coverage that followed. Check it out and let us know what you think – and remember, there are some who say he’s still out there…

If you missed our previous two-part special on the “Dear David” Twitter ghost mystery be sure to check it out here: Dear David Part 1, Dear David Part 2