The Phantom Killer Strikes again.  

ButteryDelight 60F
1961 posts
7/26/2006 10:58 am

Last Read:
8/6/2006 1:02 pm

The Phantom Killer Strikes again.

It was 11:15 on February 22nd 1946. On a dark side street where lovers frequently met to neck and spoon a man wearing a white mask with holes cut out for the eyes and mouth approached the car of a couple parked there. Aiming a pistol at them, the masked man ordered the two out of the car. The masked killer told the man to remove his britches and when he did he struck his victim over the head with such force he fracture the skull in two places. The man told the woman to run and while she ran down the road she heard him kicking and stomping her boyfriend. The masked man then caught up with the woman and tripped her several times, also striking her on the head. The woman’s head wounds were stitched up but her boyfriend’s injuries were more severe and required several months of recovery. This couple would be the only two victims who would be able to identify their attacker but even then their descriptions were pretty vague and please were unable to make any arrests. So, began the saga of The Phantom Killer, a man that terrorized a local town close to where I now live.

On March 24th, 1946 the bullet riddled bodies of another couple were found in the same area, this time the woman had been sexually abused before she was killed. Bullets recovered from the scene were from a .32 caliber pistol. On April 14th 1946, two more bodies were found in the same area. Again, both had been shot to death and the woman had again been sexually abused. It was after these murders that the famous Texas Ranger investigator, Capt. Manuel (Lone Wolf) Gonzales was called in to help with the investigation along with a Company of Rangers. Then on the night of May 3rd 1946 a man was shot in the back of the head through the window of his home while he was watching T.V. When his wife came in at the sound of the shots she was fired on and was hit twice in the face. The wife ran out the front door when she heard the intruder breaking in the back door and made it to a neighbor’s house. She later on recovered from her wounds. Roadblocks were set up and bloodhounds were brought in but they lost the trail at the edge of the highway. The Sheriff disclosed two major clues in these slayings: The killings were committed with a .22 caliber rifle and a flashlight dropped by the killer near the window from which he fired, was sent to Washington for FBI investigation after it was checked for fingerprints by the State Police. Many investigators believed that this was NOT the work of the Phantom Killer since a different weapon was used. Since evidence was routinely obliterated by morbid curiosity seekers, leaving police few leads, the media dubbed the perpetrator the "Phantom Killer." With a killer on the loose, fearful residents stayed home after dark, and businesses with normal evening hours closed down at sundown. There was even a movie made about the Phantom Killer. Called The Town that Dreaded Sundown.

There were several suspects but the police would investigate no farther if the fingerprints did not match and at that time DNA testing was not available even though samples were collected from the victims. Then something strange occurred late in the summer. The chief of police noted that before each murder a car was reported stolen, and then found afterwards. On June 28th on of those cars was tracked to a parking lot and there the police waited to see who would show up. They arrested the woman who got into the car. The woman said it was her husband’s car but he was out of town. The police located the man in a near by city as he was attempting to sell a stolen car. His name was, Youell Swinney. When apprehended, this tall, thin 29-year-old scarecrow turned to arresting officers and exclaimed, "Hell, I know what you want me for. You want me for more than stealing a car!" Swinney, authorities learned, already had quite an extensive record of counterfeiting, car theft, burglary and assault. When the police raided the hotel room where he and his wife temporarily lived, they found a shirt in the closet with the name STARK stenciled on the pocket. When asked about the shirt back at the police station, he clammed up - in fact, he remained non-verbal about everything. But, his wife didn’t. She had a minor record herself and was panicking trying to save her hide. She talked and talked throughout the day, throughout the night. She told the police anything they wanted to know. She admitted that even though she did not participate in any of the Phantom killings, she had been with her husband while he committed every one of them. She told things about the murders that the general public did not know. But, there was a problem with what she was telling them. Exasperatingly, her details changed from interview to interview, except to leave Swinney at the scene of each crime every time. As much as the police wanted to believe the woman, there were major challenges to her testimony. First was the fact that she never stuck to one version. Second she was a convicted killer and in the eyes of the law, an unreliable witness. Lastly and most important was that she refused to take the stand and testify against her husband. By law a wife cannot be made to testify against her husband. The state police remained curious about the shirt that was in Swinney’s possession so they transported him to the capitol for further question. Fate was on the suspect’s side however as interrogators administered too much sodium pentothal and the suspect fell asleep. The time limited for holding the suspect expired and they had to let the man go. Most police man believe that if they had been able to keep the suspect they would have eventually gotten the truth out of him. The following year the authorities sought and own a conviction for car theft on Swinney and because he was a habitual offender, Swinney received life imprisonment. No one will ever know for sure if the law got its man, or if the real Phantom danced away scot-free to perhaps cause havoc elsewhere. But, after Swinney's arrest, the Phantom killings ceased for good.

Once again there is excitement in town over The Phantom Killer. Texas A&M university's Televison and Production class is filming a documentary on the Phantom Killer. There crew was out filming the scene where the first duel murders took place. Quite a crowd gathered to watch the filming. I was amung the gawkers as I too just had to stop and look.

wickedeasy 68F  
31329 posts
7/26/2006 4:33 pm

gracious sakes

now i'm gonna have nightmares

You cannot conceive the many without the one.

ButteryDelight 60F

7/26/2006 11:08 pm

    Quoting wickedeasy:
    gracious sakes

    now i'm gonna have nightmares
Yikes! Sorry WE. With all the hoopla going on with the film crew this was on my mind today. Kind of interesting how this crime remains open and unsolved still today.

Buttery Delight

ButteryDelight 60F

7/26/2006 11:09 pm

    Quoting rm_mzhunyhole:
    I am a fiend for true murders....most interesting..I wanna thank ya for your sweet comments to me on my blog..that was real nice of ya.
I too am interested in unsolved murders.

You are most welcome MizHuny. It is easy to say something nice about someone who is as nice as you are.

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