The Phantom Strikes Again?

It had been a spread of 31 years. The details are fuzzy. The connecting threads thin. But there hasn’t been too many of these type of serials. There’s been the Phantom of Texarkana, the Zodiac, and one other of note. . . . and it is of this one that we have little information. Not to minimize the tragedy, but the Atlanta lovers’ lane serial killer seemed a lackluster serial. He struck over a period of a few months beginning January 16, 1977, around the Adams and West Manor Park areas of Atlanta, Georgia. He crouched next to the cooing victims’ car and fired 6 wadcutters through the window. His first two victims died. His second pair of victims were both wounded. Of his third pair of victims, one survived and one died. He struck between intervals of 28 days on the middle weekend of the months January, February, and March 1977. Then there was no more.

Publicly, all that we know is that a black guy approached and tried to get into the second pair of victims’ car first. They saw him approach, saw him reach for the handle, but the doors were locked and wouldn’t open. He backed up, knelt down and started shooting from the same position as the other victims were and would be shot from.

We have little more than that. Age, we don’t know. Height, weight, all nada.

Back then, due to the psychology of the times, police did not believe that serials continued on or even returned to their crime sprees. But time and some bad experiences have proven that many serials stop, and in one case later tried to recapture the thrill decades later– the case of BTK.

Therefore there is little information if the Atlanta PD checked back to the crimes of the Phantom of Texarkana, Texas. He struck on weekends beginning in February 1946, and continued on weekends in March, April, and May. Then he was gone. A similar murder was committed later in south Florida on October 8, 1946, but this was on a Tuesday. The Fort Lauderdale police did check with Texarkana police in this case.

In neither crime sprees did the victims see much. Only the first two victims of the Phantom survived in Texarkana. They differed as to their attacker’s description. He wore a grain bag over his head, but they saw his hands. The male victim said he believed the attacker was a tanned white guy. The female victim believed the attacker was a light skinned black man. That’s all we have.

Over 40 years have passed since the Atlanta Lovers’ Lane Murders. It is time Atlanta PD released as much information as they have on the cases so that this tragic series of crimes can finally have the light of day they deserve, perhaps the light that can finally lead to the solution.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

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