Set in the rowdy, often lawless town of Texarkana shortly after WWII, The Phantom Killer is the history of the most puzzling unsolved cases in the United States
The salacious and scandalous murders of a series of couples on Texarkana's "lovers lanes" in seemingly idyllic post-WWII America created a media maelstrom and cast a pall of fear over an entire region. What is even more surprising is that the case has remained cold for decades. Combining archival research and investigative journalism, Pulitzer Prize nominated historian James Presley reveals evidence that provides crucial keys to unlocking this decades-old puzzle.
Dubbed "the Phantom murders" by the press, these grisly crimes took place in an America before dial telephones, DNA science, and criminal profiling. Even pre-television, print and radio media stirred emotions to a fever pitch. The Phantom Killer, exhaustively researched, is the only definitive nonfiction book on the case, and includes details from an unpublished account by a survivor, and rare, never-before-published photographs.
Although the case lives on today on television, the Internet, a revived fictional movie and even an off-Broadway play, with so much of the investigation shrouded in mystery since 1946, rumors and fractured facts have distorted the reality. Now, for the first time, a careful examination of the archival record, personal interviews, and stubborn fact checking come together to produce new insights and revelations on the old slayings.
Pulitzer Prize nominee Presley (A Saga of Wealth) effectively conveys the fear that gripped Texarkana in 1946 in the wake of a series of murders and goes on to offer a persuasive solution to the unsolved crimes. The killer first struck on February 22, assaulting a young couple who managed to survive the brutal assault but were unable to give much of a description beyond noting that the perpetrator wore a white mask. About a month later, another man and woman were attacked, this time fatally. The murderer ended up taking five lives and seriously injuring three other people before his rampage stopped. The search for the so-called "phantom killer" was hampered by some police missteps in preserving evidence and the lack of certain forensic tests available today. Diligently researched, this gripping, page-turning account would be a standout true-crime narrative even without the material Presley gathers to buttress his identification of the serial killer.
Customer ReviewsSee All
To take the cumulative information of over 50 years of history, compile it into an understandable prose, and inject readability was a feat unexpected with this book. It read more like a novel than a work of fiction. Each chapter leading to suspense for the next. Thank you Mr. Presley for turning a mystery into an enlightened story.
The phantom killer
It was a very interesting and knowledgeable book and great insight