I had heard about this case several times, but thought it more of an urban legend than fact. Especially after having viewed the Hollywood epic The Town That Dreaded Sundown, a 1977 movie made on a budget of 7 dollars and three Big Macs. However, when I finally decided to look into the case, I found the truth much different... the following is taken from many different newspapers of the time, most especially the Lubbock (TX) Morning Avalanche (01-'49), the Del Rio (TX) News-Herald, 5-'46), the Paris (TX) News (3-'46) and the Charleston (WV) Gazette (3-'55). I have found some additional info on various online sites, but as most do not cite sources I only used that info for corraboration. The spring is usually a time for new beginnings, when residents of towns small and big finally emerge from their winter's hibernation to greet a renewed world. However, such was not the case for the residents of Texarkana, who were held in the grip of a panic created by a string of murders which occured from March through May of 1946. Some law enforcement officials believed that the string of horrific crime actually began in February, with the attack on 19 year old Mary Jeane Larey and 24 year old Jimmy Hollis. Hollis and Larey were parked along the roadside near Hollis' home when they heard a tapping on the window of the car. A stranger (reported by one online article as wearing a white canvas hood with cutouts for eyes and mouth, though I could find no news articles to confirm this) was rapping on the window with a gun. He motioned for the two to exit the vehicle. Hollis was ordered to remove his pants, and was then hit with the butt of the pistol hard enough to crack his skull and break a vertebrae in his neck. Hollis would spend the next six months recovering from his injuries. Larey tried to run, but was caught by the stranger and forced to the ground on the roadway. She was, in the words of one reporter, 'beaten and horribly mistreated'. One writer used the analogy of what had occured to Temple Drake in the William Faulkner novel Sanctuary to describe the attack. (In the novel, Temple is raped by her impotent attacker with a corn cob-in Larey's case, a pistol was used). The attack finally ended when the stranger struck Larey over the head with the pistol, leaving her for dead. Both victims survived the attack, unlike future victims of the Phantom. Neither were able to give a description of the attacker, other than to say he was of medium height, powerfully built and 'dark'. They doubted he was "a negro", however. The first attack recognized as being by the Phantom occured on March 24th. 17 year old Polly Ann Moore and 29 year old Richard Griffin were found dead in Griffin's car, both having been beaten and shot in the head with a .32 caliber pistol. Moore had been assaulted in much the same way as Larey-"long subjected to a maniacal form of rape". Three weeks later, 15 year old Betty Jo Booker and 17 year old Paul Martin were driving from music practice when they were attacked. Martin's car was found near a park, his body located over a mile away. He had been shot with a .32 caliber pistol. Booker's abused and violated body was found two miles from the car in a field, hanging on a barbed wire fence. Her saxaphone was found nearby in a marsh several months later. The final murder credited to the Phantom occured again three weeks later on May 3rd. Farmer Virgil Starks, 36, was relaxing in his home listening to the radio when shots rang out. He had been shot through a window, hit in the head and killed instantly. His wife, Katy, who had been changing for the night, ran into the room and saw her dead husband. She attempted to call the police, but was herself shot twice in the face. Katy survived the shooting, and ran from the house as the killer forced his way in. Katy managed to run to a neighbor's house who called the police and an ambulance. When police arrived at the Starks' home, they found bloody handprints and muddy shoeprints around Virgil's body. Later testing revealed that the couple had been shot with a .22 caliber weapon. Despite what was described as the largest manhunt in the history of that part of Texas, and the involvement of several law enforcement bodies including the FBI and the Texas Rangers, no solid leads were ever developed. The best suspect was considered to be 29 year old Youell Swinney, a car thief. It was noted that a car had been stolen before every attack, and recovered after. Swinney was connected to a stolen car and later arrested. His wife told police that Swinney was the Phantom, and that she had in fact been present for the attacks. However, she was not considered a trult reliable witness and could not be called to testify against her husband in any case. Swinney was convicted of auto theft and sentenced to prison (a sentence which was overturned in later years). In 1949, an unnamed "negro" was arrested in Waco for the bludgeoning murder of a couple in a car. He admitted to this murder, claiming self-defense. It was learned by Texas Rangers that the man had worked for at the Starks farm in previous years. However, no evidence could be discovered tying him to the murders. The murders remain unsolved.