"Death is no more than passing from one room into another." – HELEN KELLER

Lovers Lane

A girl and her boyfriend, looking for a little privacy, decide to park their car in the woods so they could make out. When they were done, the boy got out to go to the bathroom and the girl waited for him in the safety of the car.

After waiting five minutes she became nervous and got out of the car to look for him. Suddenly, she sees a man in the shadows. Scared, she gets back in the car to drive away, when she hears a very faint squeak... squeak... squeak...

This continued a few seconds until the girl decided she had no choice but to drive off. She hit the gas as hard as possible but couldn't go anywhere, because someone had tied a rope from the bumper of the car to a nearby tree.

Well, the girl slams on the gas again and then hears a loud scream. She gets out of the car and realizes that her boyfriend is hanging from the tree. The squeaky noises were his shoes slightly scraping across the top of the car!!!

This is a very popular urban legend that some believe is based on a true story, but then again, that's how all urban legends begin. When it comes to urban legends, there is always someone who says "It really happened to a girl/guy at my school/hometown." In actuality, I doubt any of these legends are even true. But the one above is said to be based on murders that happened in my hometown of Texarkana.

In the 1940s, a killer dubbed The Phantom attacked and killed teenagers parked in a well known "Lovers Lane" spot in a wooded area off of Richmond Road. Mary Jeanne and her boyfriend were the first couple to be attacked. Her boyfriend was immediately knocked out by the phantom and Mary Jeanne was sexually abused with a pistol barrel and beaten as well. They were the lucky ones. The only two that would survive the Moonlight Murders. A month later another couple, Richard L. Griffin and Polly Ann Moore were shot to death by a .32 caliber revolver, possibly a Colt. Ms. Moore had also been sexually assaulted.

Betty Jo Booker played saxophone in a band and was playing at a gig the night of her murder. After the gig was over Paul Martin, a friend of hers, was going to escort her to a slumber party, but they never made it there. Martin's automobile was discovered abandoned at the entrance of Spring Lake Park, nowhere near the slumber party to which Betty Jo was headed. Paul's body was located first, north of Interstate 30 a mile and a half from his car. He had been shot several times. Betty Jo was found nearly two miles distant outside a patch of woods near Fernwood, also north of I-30. Like Paul, Betty Jo's body was bullet-ridden. She had also been sexually molested. This time, official records didn't deny it. They were killed by the same .32 caliber revolver.

There was one other incident concerning a couple, but no one knows if this had anything to do with the phantom. Katy and Virgil Starks were at home. Virgil was resting in an easy chair and Katy had just finished doing the supper dishes and was in their bedroom reading a magazine. Neither of them noticed a silhouette of a man climbing the front steps. The first shot hit Virgil in the cranium and the second struck about the same place. He was killed instantly. Katy heard the shots and immediately raced down the hallway. After seeing the carnage in the living room, the first thought that entered her mind was "The Phantom." She ran to the telephone and managed to get the operator but never was able to speak a word. She, herself, was shot twice. The first went into her right cheek and exited her left ear. The second one smashed her jaw and got lodged under her tongue. After all that, she remained conscious and ran out the front door while the intruder struggled to enter the back. She ran to her sisters but no one was home. So she continued down the road to A.V. Prater where she was able to get help. Katy survived the attack after having surgery. But authorities weren't sure if this incident had anything to do with the phantom.

They had several suspects but in the end, was never able to make an arrest. Though there was one suspect that stood out among the rest. Youell Swinney and his wife were arrested for stealing a car. Even though Swinney clamed up, his wife made a full confession, more than just the stolen car. She went into full description of the phantom murders giving major details that weren't released to the press. The only problem was that her story changed from interview to interview except that her husband was left at the scene of each crime everytime. In the end, she was an unreliable witness and refused to take the stand and testify against her husband, there is a law in Texas that says a man or woman can't be forced to testify against their spouse. Swinney was convicted of car theft only and was sent to the penitentiary in Huntsville. No one knows if he really was the Phantom but after his arrest, the moonlight murders stopped for good.

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