Phantom Phacts Part 2

Texarkana 1955 is shown in the map above. It is as close as I can come to 1946 in topos. It is good enough though for what it is needed. Highway 67 is now in, which I traced with blue. This was not evident in the 1942 topos shown in the previous post. By 1946, however, the country highway had been finished. The location of The Phantom’s strikes are shown, including the 2 locations where he dropped off the bodies of his park victims, Paul Martin and Betty Jo Booker. Number 6 shows the approximate location of the Starks’ ranch. The Phantom remained close to the highway here.

What does this tell us? Again, it accentuates The Phantom knew the west rural area of Texarkana but not necessarily the east. For the one attack in the east he remained close to the highway. But by highlighting the main country highway and the attacks we see how he wanted to avoid Texarkana as well. He need only pass through Texarkana through the downtown area and pass right on to Arkansas. This would not be an area where he would stand out much in the traffic.

Texarkana downtown.
Texarkana downtown.

How to interpret this? On the face of it it is clear The Phantom wished to avoid populous areas. But there is something else. When striking in the western area he remained based around the main roads– Summerhill in particular. Richmond Road (No 1) is off Summerhill. After heading north on North Park (3) with Martin and Booker, he could dump them where he did (4, 5) and head back to Summerhill and thence to his lair.

But where was this?

Number 2 on South Robison, just south of Highway 67, is an interesting attack. Summerhill can take you anywhere into Texarkana, but Robison tells us The Phantom prowled the area around the main country highway as well. Robison leads to the highway. Summerhill does not directly lead to the highway.

Remaining around Summerhill Road seems pretty certain. But adding the attack on Robison tells us The Phantom could have been coming into the area from Highway 67 and not based in the area. He knew the general area, yes, but did he live there? He knew the lovers’ lane locations, so he had more than a general familiarity with the main roads. Having grown up in Texarkana would tell him the parking areas. He did not need to live in the area now. Did he live further to the west? Or did he live in Texarkana and use the highway to go west to the rural area? The map doesn’t tell us.

Texarkanans could see the pattern for themselves. They believed he was local. But how local? On a farm to the west or in the heart of the city?

What would help answer the question would be a map showing all the “parking” locations for the passionate moonlight set. This would tell us if he only knew those off the main country roads. This would indicate he did some level of stalking but did not know the heart of rural Texarkana. This could indeed mean he was not ultimately a local.

The map tells us he was premeditated. He stalked the lovers’ lanes and highway.  When he turned sniper with a rifle he could have shot a couple on the outskirts of Texarkana. But he didn’t. He found an isolated farm with a couple. He didn’t want to be seen. He came with the intent of murder.

Robison-55
Robison and how it is the main access road into the west of Texarkana’s rural area, just short of the city limits. Only Robison Courts was built up out there in 1946.

The map only hints that The Phantom came to the area from the west.

There are those who question The Starks as victims of The Phantom since they were a couple in their 30s in their own farmhouse and not lovers out parking. But as it stands there seems little reason to dispute it. The person who shot the Starks came fully with the intent to do so. He stayed close to the highway — easy in and easy out, just like with Number 2. In the lovers’ lane attacks he used an automatic pistol. At the Starks an automatic .22 rifle. A rifle is not something you’re going to use in a close quarter attack on a car, but if you plan to stand a distance outside a house and shoot the occupants you use a rifle. He merely adjusted accordingly.

The rural west was also crawling with lawmen. It would not be safe to attack there anymore.  It makes sense, from his demented motive, to strike in the east.

The span between the bullet holes in the Starks window tells us he stood back a bit. When he dropped Mrs. Starks by the phone he must have approached the window and looked in. When he saw her crawling off or gone, he must have rushed to the front door, dropping the flashlight by mistake. He rips open the screen to get in the house to hunt her down. No, this guy came fully prepared to kill. She escapes. He bolts.

The flashlight found by the Starks'  farmhouse.
The flashlight found by the Starks’ farmhouse.

Where had he parked? We don’t know. We only know he needed a flashlight to get to the house from where he did. He made it back without it. He wasn’t dressed heavily. Nothing with deep pockets or the flashlight could not have fallen out.

The general overview helps refine The Phantom’s prowling MO. But it doesn’t answer some questions. We must get more detailed in the next Phantom Phacts post.

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