Update: 1974 Unsolved Abduction/Murder of Carla Walker May 21, 2019 21:59:09 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on May 21, 2019 21:59:09 GMT -5
Fort Worth Police Release Letter in 1974 Carla Walker Case
On the night of Sunday, February 17, 1974, a man approached the car where 17-year-old Carla Walker, a pretty blue-eyed blonde, was sitting with Rodney McCoy, her boyfriend. The assailant hit McCoy on the head with his pistol, knocking him unconscious, and dragged Carla from the passenger seat. When McCoy regained consciousness, he drove several blocks to the Walker home to report what had happened.
Cynthia Stone, Walker’s sister, recalled that as soon as she heard someone frantically banging on the door, she knew something was wrong. “He [McCoy] had blood just streaming down his face, screaming, “They got her! They got her! They got her!”
The young woman’s body was found three days later stuffed into a muddy culvert near Benbrook Lake. According to the autopsy report, Walker had been beaten, raped, injected with morphine and strangled.
In an interview with WFAA last year, McCoy said, “She was such a sweet girl. I remember we were in the front seat of the car. Her back was against the passenger door. She was falling out. I went to grab her and he started beating me over the head with a pistol.”
Now, 45 years later, Fort Worth police have released a letter they hope will jar someone’s memory and lead to an arrest. The crudely written note is addressed to Detective Lt. Oliver Ball. Though what is presumably a person’s name has been redacted, it is followed by what appears to say, “killed Carla Walker in Benbrook.” The letter ends with “It is hard to say but it is true” and “Sign 10100” is written both before and after the postscript. A Fort Worth police spokesperson said investigators aren’t sure what “10100 ” means, but it could be related to “10-100,” the police code for “dead body.”
The Fort Worth police ask that anyone knowing who wrote the letter, or anything about it, call (817) 392-4307.
Though Carla Walker’s murder is a cold case, John F. Terrell, a former Fort Worth police detective who died in 2010, had no doubts as to who committed the crime. At the time of the Walker kidnapping and murder, Terrell was investigating burglaries and became interested in the Walker case when William Ted Wilhoit, a habitual burglar Terrell had put behind bars, was named as a suspect. The longer he scrutinized the suspect, the more certain he was that Wilhoit was their man.
In 1975, a bank officer contacted police and reported a man had attempted to cash two $500 savings bonds that had been reported stolen. The suspect matched Wilhoit’s description and Terrell and Joe Britt, another detective, drove to Wilhoit’s house, where they found him standing in the front yard. “Well, I was wondering when you were going to come after me for Carla Walker,” Wilhoit told the detectives. They were shocked by his admission, but didn’t say anything as they transported the suspect to the police station for questioning.
Terrell, known for his easy manner, had arrested and questioned Wilhoit, a Bible-quoter, in the past. On this occasion, he urged Wilhoit to discuss the Walker case, telling him he [Wilhoit] was “too good of a Christian” to live with a murder on his conscience. “He broke down and started crying and I thought he was going to confess right then,” Britt told the Fort Worth Weekly. “He said he couldn’t handle it anymore. I thought, we got it made and he’s going to ‘fess up.” At that moment, however, a federal agent knocked on the door and said he wanted to discuss the stolen savings bonds. By the time Terrell got the agent out of the room and returned to Wilhoit, the opportunity had passed. “That broke everything and we never got Wilhoit back to that point again,” Britt recalled. “With his reactions that day we showed up with the arrest warrant, I just really believe he was the perpetrator in that,” he added.
Carla Walker wasn’t the only young female kidnapped and murdered in the early 1970s in the Fort Worth area. On February 27, 1973, Rebecca “Becky” Martin was abducted from the parking lot at Tarrant County Junior College (now Tarrant County College). Her body was found in a culvert in White Settlement. In December, 10 months after Walker’s kidnaping and murder, three girls, Mary Rachel Trlica, 17; Lisa Renée Wilson, 14; and Julie Ann Moseley, 9, went missing from the Seminary South Shopping Center.
Terrell suspected Wilhoit (above) was the perpetrator in all three cases and when he [Wilhoit] was paroled in 1978 and relocated to Abilene, Terrell contacted the police there and warned them a suspected rapist and killer of young women and girls had taken up residence in their city. A short time later, an Abilene housewife was raped by an intruder and acting on Terrell’s tip, police were able to connect Wilhoit to the crime. He was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
In 1986, Wilhoit was questioned in prison about the attempted murder of Janelle Kirby, who was shot five times in the face in 1974, but survived. Wilhoit, who was granted immunity for his testimony, confessed to the attack, thereby clearing another man who had been convicted of the crime.
When Wilhoit was paroled in 1992, after serving time for the Abilene rape, and relocated to Corpus Christi, Terrell wasted no time apprising the Corpus Christi police department of Wilhoit’s background. On March 25, 1995, police – again acting on a tip from Terrell – discovered the wily 5'7" burglar crawling out of a window where a single woman lived. He admitted to the burglary, his parole was revoked and he was returned to prison.
Wilhoit was paroled again in 2003 and though he is a registered sex offender, the 65-year-old career criminal is now a free man living in Robstown, Texas.
In 2003, the Carla Walker case was reopened in an attempt to clear a backlog of cold cases. At the time, Sgt. J.D. Thornton, a police spokesperson, said, “We have a detective who is actively working on it. She’s located all the evidence, all the files.” Thornton also revealed for the first time that DNA testing had been performed on evidence from the Walker case, which purportedly includes a semen-stained dress and male pubic hair.
Sources: Loyd Brumfield, The Dallas Morning News, April 19, 2019; Robert Francis, The Fort Worth Business Press, December 1, 2017; Pete Kendall, The Cleburne Times-Review, April 19, 2010; and Jeff Prince, The Fort Worth Weekly, January 2, 2003.