The cold case of Carla Walker
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
It's not often that a notorious crime can be associated with gunleather makers; the standout being the murder of President Kennedy (Jack Donihoo was an investigator on the case, and August Brill's grandaughter was in the car with Kennedy).
Here it is Texas detective Oliver Ball whose final cold case, unsolved at his death in 1983, was the 1974 abduction, torture, rape, and murder of Texas high schooler Carla Walker. Today, it has been reported that her killer has been arrested and now indicted.
I suppose the story originally caught my eye because I was married to a Texas schoolgirl in that era and it didn't seem to me that any such thing could have happened to such a girl. In the case of Carla, she and the boyfriend were 'parking' as it was called then and the boy reported that a man had wrenched open the car door and taken her at gunpoint. The boy of course was a suspect, and a man then became a suspect. But no charges were laid despite the man being interviewed many times.
Then last year, 2019, an early handwritten letter caused modern detectives to reopen the cold case and a story appeared in which they sought the identity of the sender.
And this year, a modern dna connection made via a genealogy site exposed Glen McCurley, now 77, and he was indicted. McCurley was that original suspect.
For me it was the headline that caught my eye, even though unlike the one I'm showing it did not include the word 'Texas'. The date, I suppose? And there she was, Carla Walker and her brother who himself had become a copper to catch the baddie but had fallen so ill at police academy so he had been forced out of police work early on.
Follow-up stories now have a tale told by McCurley that don't mitigate that Carla was drugged, tortured, and raped over three days before she was murdered.
On a cheerier note, some of Ball's work that is distinctively 'Texas' in its construction and very collectible today:
Most of Ball's appearances in newspaper reporting are as a Golden Gloves boxing instructor.