March 24, 1946 another couple was confronted in a different area also known as a “lover’s lane.” This time, both victims were not so lucky. If you enjoy true crime films like Zodiac and the other multitude of lesser serial killer films out there of varying quality, it will keep you intrigued. Click the button below to start this article in quick view. The man happened to glance at his barn, where he saw several flashes, and after calling the police and arming himself with a shotgun, he alongside law enforcement were about to lit up the barn with gunfire. It was at this point that Sheriff Presley decided to call on the help of the Texas Rangers in order to identify the type of gun used in the murder from the casings that were left at the scene. The Town That Dreaded Sundown is not only among the best slasher movies ever made, but is also one of the very best true crime films. After some time, a woman by the name of Peggy Stevens Swinney, newly married that same day to Youell Swinney, turned up to claim the vehicle. The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a 1976 American thriller film directed and produced by Charles B. Virgil was shot and killed while sitting in a chair in his living room. It was directed by Charles B. Sheriff Presley and the Chief of Police of the Texas side of Texarkana received the call and were the first to respond to the scene. Youell Swinney was born the youngest of five children to a homemaker mother, Myrtle Swinney, and a strict Baptist preacher father, Stanley Swinney, who had an alcohol problem. The hooded perpetrator’s behavior, at times erratic, seemed to suggest an uncertainty in his actions. Unlike popular crime films such as Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994), which was loosely inspired by a variety of events, and David Fincher’s Zodiac, which focused on one man’s obsession with a real serial killer, Sundown carried the weight of crimes that affected real people. Texarkana, the border town straddling Texas and Arkansas, was having a typically quiet night for law enforcement, so Sheriff Presley and three patrolmen went out to investigate the site of the alleged attack. Free shipping for many products! Bessie Brown’s motherly intuition had woken her up, on the morning of April 14th, 1946, with a start. However, when Lone Wolf Gonzaullas sent a Ranger to Corpus Christi, the man was cleared from the suspicion of the murders. First, we're re-opening the cold case on one of America's more notorious killers in David Fincher's Zodiac (2007), before heading down south to hunt The Texarkana Phantom in Charles B. Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne Larey were a young couple both in the process of divorcing other people. Once they were ordered out of the car, Hollis was ordered to take off his pants, but after he did, the Phantom proceeded to bash Hollis in the head with the butt of his gun causing two deep fractures in Hollis’ skull. He pled guilty to the charges, but the judge entered a plea of not guilty because the defendant was not permitted to plead guilty under the Habitual Criminal Act. His grandchildren called him Mr. Swinney, not Grandpa or Grandfather. This attack on the Starks was 19 days after the Martin and Booker double homicide, so as soon as the call was made to the police department, officers rushed out to investigate the scene. Join in as they discuss the real-life horrors that inspired some of the best true-crime cinema ever produced! Five people were murdered by an unidentified assailant that the press dubbed The Phantom Killer. Pierce ‘s film starkly dramatizes the very real 1946 Texarkana Moonlight Murders. Pierce. When the table teetered it would also spill loose nails onto tin trays and pots would smash against vases on the floor, which would wake up Mr. and Mrs. Rochelle, who kept a rifle next to their bed.” (Life, 1946). Peggy Swinney stated that on the night of April 13, 1946, she and Youell Swinney had left the hotel they were staying at and drove to Spring Lake Park, where Youell told her that he was going to find someone there to rob. On February 22nd, 1946, Sheriff Bill Presley received a late night call that a young couple had been attacked on an unpaved road, known as Lover’s Lane. Film Review: ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ The 'American Horror Story' team remakes the cult 1976 slasher with gimmicky, mostly unscary results. Leads on the location of the stolen automobile were followed to no avail. While there were some similarities that can be tied to the events of Texarkana, there are several inconsistencies between real-life events and the film. Syl is a professional criminologist who shamelessly spends her time listening to true crime podcasts, watching horror films, and bringing real life horror to her written pieces. One day in late June, the stolen Plymouth was noticed and confirmed as the same vehicle for which the police were looking. Griffin was found on his knees behind the front seat, his pants pulled down to his ankles with the pockets turned out and his head resting on his hands, as if he were asleep. The phone call not only gave legitimacy to Bessie’s suspicions, but also alarmed Clark when he learned that Betty Jo had never made it to the slumber party. Pierce, who also played patrolman A.C. Benson a.k.a. The majority of the information contained in this piece comes from the books: The Phantom Killer: Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Murders: The Story of a Town in Terror by James Presley (the nephew of Bill Presley, the local Sheriff presiding over the case) and The Texarkana Moonlight Murders: The Unsolved Case of the 1946 Phantom Killer by Michael Newton. While Hollis was rushed into emergency surgery for a severe injury to his skull, Larey spoke to the officers despite being shaken up. Convinced that Virgil had dropped something and broken it, Katie left the bedroom to attend to her husband, but found that Virgil was slumped dead in his armchair, blood seeping down his neck. The real killer was never found. Carter reported to Max Tackett at the Miller County Sheriff’s Office, who had a hunch that this suspect was the same man who had just married Peggy Stevens less than a month earlier. Aside from murder, Texarkana was also regularly the site of high-speed chases with police in pursuit of traffickers running liquor from Louisiana to Oklahoma, as well as shootouts, hold-ups, and knife fights. They left five dead, three injured, and an entire town traumatized. Upon inspection, Partain asked the apparent owner if he had the title for the car. The Town That Dreaded Sundown was a 1976 docudrama that was based on actual crimes committed in Texarkana in 1946. Later examination suggested that the murderer had faced her when he shot her at point blank range. to stealing cars. Among the rangers who arrived was that of the infamous Ranger Captain Manuel Trazzazas Lone Wolf Gonzaullas, who brought 26 years of experience to Texarkana and had a reputation that preceded him. For one, Hollis’ pants were found approximately 100 yards from the crime scene, which would indicate that he abandoned his garments under the instruction of his attacker. Simply put, it is a must-see. Trails of blood crossing the street indicated that after Martin had been shot he had crawled across the unpaved road before finally succumbing to his injuries. His suspicions were confirmed when a complaint was called in from a Murfreesboro, Arkansas farmer Jim Mays, who was also a landlord. That same night, Peggy and Youell rented a hotel room where Youell left Peggy for at least 5 hours, returning after midnight. Did you enjoy this? On April 20th, after the FBI examined Booker’s body, they found that she tested positive for semen and her vagina had marked bruising which reportedly could have been from either penile penetration or penetration from a pistol grip. A recounting of the 1946 Moonlight Murders in Texarkana, Texas, Charles B. Pierce’s pseudo-documentary presents a sleepy town haunted by a sadistic killer prowling its streets. Her daughter from her first marriage, her beloved Betty Jo Booker, had not returned from her Saturday night gig playing saxophone at the VFW. For example, when the tow truck came to take the car away, officers failed to wear gloves and, in the process, muddled the possibility of collecting fingerprints of the suspect by adding their own. Also, although Larey was not properly examined for rape at the hospital, there were reported signs of vaginal bruising. The car thief was identified as Youell Lee Swinney and was subsequently booked and taken to a cell at the Miller County Jail. However, around the same area by the vehicle Sheriff Presley then found a small black date book that he would later discover belonged to Paul Martin. Katie was shot twice in the face while attempting to call the police. POV Horror Has The Best Found-Footage Horror! However, Youell started acting out and committed his first burglary, stealing candy from a local business, while living with Cleo. You will receive a link to create a new password via email. During the 1940s there was also a significant increase in travelers coming through Texarkana, since four railways offered passenger service and two airlines had a couple of flights a day each. Approached by Cleon Partain, a knowledgeable car trader, the man stated that he was interested in selling his vehicle due to unemployment and an inability to make the payments. When the trouble first started, he was moved repeatedly again, but this time between his brother, his mother, and his grandparents, despite his father still legally retaining full custody.  However, when analyzing Martin’s genitalia for signs of seminal fluid he tested negative, so it is assumed that the two of them did not have sex. The Lone Wolf even had to deal with the constant rumors that were typical of a small southern town, one of the most notable being that the Phantom Killer was gnawing the breasts of the girls he had murdered. The sheriff did not want to strain the already fragile town and create further racial tension based on Larey’s seemingly unfounded claims that the attacker was an African American man. His long history of theft earned Youell several stints in both jails and prisons, but by 1940, Youell had changed his M.O. The attacks began on February 22, 1946 when a young couple, parked in an area known as “lovers’ lane” were confronted by a hooded stranger yielding a flashlight and gun. On May 3, 1946, Peggy’s sister and Youell Swinney had an argument over money that the couple owed to her. The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1974) claims that “the incredible story you are about to see is true, where it happened and how it happened; only the names have been changed.” That’s a pretty serious claim, setting this film apart from the usual “based on a true story” horror movies. While the town of Texarkana was initially rocked and rattled by the tragic events of 1946, The Town that Dreaded Sundown has now grown into a longstanding tradition. I will spend the rest of my life behind bars this time!” the suspect replied, hysterical. It was initially met with resistance towards some of the imagery depicted of the town, while the language of the promotional posters was met with defiance since it stated that the Phantom Killer was still lurking. Less than a month later on April 13 the killer took the lives of Paul Martin (17) and his friend Betty Jo Booker (15) – both shot with the same gun used as the previous double-murder, a .32 automatic Colt pistol. Bessie and Chris Brown’s fears were realized when Betty Jo’s body was found 1.75 miles away from Martin’s corpse. A minor relative of Swinney recalled his habits, which included leaving the car parked in a certain Texarkana lot. They titled their article “Texarkana Terror, Southern City is panicked by the killer who shoots according to schedule” a fact that was only true in one instance, but mostly the article covered the reaction of the citizens in the wake of the murders. Upon arrest of Swinney, the murders abruptly stopped. Suspicious of the man, Partain memorized the license plate number, which was unusual to that area, and sent a coworker, Hibbett Lee, to report to Homer Carter, an Arkansas Marshal of the town of Atlanta, Arkansas. Peggy was arrested and taken to Miller County Jail to await the arrival of her husband, the apparent non-paying tenant, car thief, and quite possibly the prime suspect for the Texarkana murders. Related: The Town That Dreaded Sundown: Every Difference Between The Original And Remake. With that, many different ethnic groups in a smaller southern town caused an inevitable increase in crime, as a result of different cultures clashing. The killing spree in the Summer of 1946 came to be known as “The Texarkana Moonlight Murders,” and the perpetrator was dubbed “The Phantom Killer” by the press. Sparkplug, primarily for comic relief. Centered in Texarkana, Texas in 1946 a series of assaults and murders by a man wearing a sack over his face turns the friendly town into a community that quickly becomes scared of it's own shadow. Local and federal law enforcement seemed to be kicking everything into high gear, but nothing was reassuring the people of Texarkana. The Town that Dreaded Sundown is a 1976 docudrama thriller based on the Moonlight Murders.. Simultaneously, local law enforcement as well as their FBI and Ranger cohorts had a revolving door of suspects who were constantly in and out of the station. The Town That Dreaded Sundown tells the story of a masked murderer who terrorized Texarkana in 1946 – and it was so captivating that a sequel was made just a few years ago. The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a 1976 horror film by producer/director Charles B. The bodies were identified as young couple Richard Griffin and Polly Ann Moore after law enforcement officers found the female’s class ring that had both the high school name and her initials on it. The potential seller replied that he did not have the title at that time but he could get it. He was then arrested in front of a hotel and was found with a .45 caliber revolver as well as bloody clothing. Still in shock, Katie dropped to the floor to avoid any more bullets and then fled to the bedroom to search for the personal firearm that Virgil kept there.  He probably would have killed Larey, but luckily, some headlights appeared in the distance, which scared him off. Even though they both agreed that the person who attacked them was tall, approximately six feet, and male, they disagreed on the suspect’s race. Upon capture, the suspect made several strange comments such as, “Please don’t shoot me!” to which Tackett replied, “I’m not going to shoot you for stealing cars.” “Mister, don’t play games with me. People from all over the country flocked to the town, following the opening of the Red River Ordnance Depot and Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant. Is It Just Me, Or Is Tusk A Really Great Example Of Body Horror? The go-to source for comic book and superhero movie fans. While Hollis and Larey’s attack had quickly left the minds of Texarkana residents, the murders of Griffin and Moore shocked the town and incited a thorough investigation that did not reveal anything–at least not before the killer struck again. His wife immediately ran to the telephone, but before she could use it the assailant fired two more shots, both entering her face. One of the rounds ripped through the skin beside her nose and exited by her ear while the other entered her lower jaw. Those around him gave him credit for killing 75 outlaws on his own, but he apparently insisted they were always justified shootings. This masked killer terrorized a small Southern city over a six month period in 1946. The killer had dipped his hands in Virgil’s blood and made a pretty vile scene. The Town That Dreaded Sundown was released into theaters on December 24th, 1976. The ad pleaded for anyone who owned, or knew of anyone who owned, one of these lights to please report to the Sheriff. Where To Watch Online, Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Laura Harrier Thought She Lost Liz Allan Role To Zendaya, WarnerMedia CEO Stands By 2021 Streaming Plan Despite Actor Backlash, Star Wars: Visions Animated Shorts Give the Franchise an Anime Spin, All 61 Movies & TV Shows Disney Just Announced, Spider-Man 3: Spider-Verse Should Be The Main Arc For MCU's Next Trilogy, Marvel's Fantastic Four Movie Would Be Better As A Disney+ Series, Phase 4: How The MCU's Eternals Compare To The Comics Originals, WB Had Doubts Wonder Woman 1984 Would Work During Production, The Bye Bye Man Urban Legend Explained (Scarier Than The Movie). On October 31, 2013, in the small town of Texarkana, the local drive-in theater is hosting the Halloween annual showing of the 1976 film The Town That Dreaded Sundown, based on the true story of the Phantom Killer who murdered several people in Texarkana in 1946. Further to this, she had not been heard from all night. While most of the details had been shared with residents, local and federal law enforcement made the decision to keep a key detail out of the news. The newspaper’s latest headline gave the Lovers Lane murderer the title of The Phantom Killer, in their headline that ran two days after the murder: Phantom Killer Eludes Officers as Investigations of Slayings Pressed (1946). When first responders arrived to process the scene, the ambulance and law enforcement vehicles attracted a lot of attention from nearby citizens. Martin had been shot four times; in the back of the neck, the shoulder, his right hand, and one final bullet in his face. They did both agree that the suspect had a mask over his face that resembled a pillow case with holes cut out for his eyes and mouth, but one thing was for sure, they had no idea who their attacker was. I went to see The Town That Dreaded Sundown with no further information than it being a remake of some horror film from the seventies that I haven’t seen. The writer also created completely fictional scenarios, including a chase between law enforcement and the killer, which have colored the public’s perception of the truth for many years. For unknown reasons, instead of sharing the evidence with the others at the scene, Presley simply placed the date book into his pocket and carried on with his investigation. Moore was found face down in the backseat, her purse opened as if the perpetrator sifted through it for cash and valuables. This is one of those “there was a real killer, then they made a movie about it and filmed it right here and now he’s back” kind of movies. The officers then took statements from the victims about the bizarre event, not realizing the journey that they, Texarkana, and the nation were about to embark upon. Even though, the following day, the Texarkana Gazette ran the unexciting headline Murdered Shot to Death (1946) there was little information given to the public besides everything that had already spread around the town. As soon as they saw the blood in the car and the bodies of a young couple slumped in the seats, they phoned the police. She also knew about a datebook taken from Martin’s pocket, which he threw into the bushes and was later secretly retrieved by Sheriff Bill Presley. Free Horror Movies – Watch 600+ Horror Movies! While the town of Texarkana was initially rocked and rattled by the tragic events of 1946, The Town that Dreaded Sundown has now grown into a longstanding tradition. A hooded killer terrorized citizens in rural areas surrounding the border between Texas and Kansas. We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. In this article, we will be taking a look at the true stories that inspired some So begins The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Charles B. The newspapers called him The Phantom Killer, and referred to his crimes as The Texarkana Moonlight Murders. On the date in question, Virgil was sat in the front room of their house, the curtains still wide open, reading with a heating pad resting on his lower back. Dubbed the "Phantom Killer," he was never caught. The killer was at a distance of about 18-22 inches from the window where he could have clearly seen the back of Virgil’s head. In her second statement to police, Peggy stated that her husband told her that he had stolen a saxophone from the car after the Booker-Martin murders. The film is loosely based on the 1946 Texarkana Moonlight Murders, crimes attributed to an unidentified serial killer known as the Phantom Killer. The officers immediately secured the house in order to prevent previous mistakes that had been made by this investigation. The Texarkana Phantom’s attacks (which later inspired the classic horror movie The Town That Dreaded Sundown) took place between February 1946 and July 1946. However, these efforts would be for nothing, since the Phantom would soon strike again. Upon arriving in Texarkana, Carter, along with Hibbett Lee, who could identify the vehicle, learned that it was, in fact, stolen. This was the first of many petty crimes to come, with Youell’s teen years plagued with him being troubled and constantly running into law enforcement. At the scene, .32 caliber shell casings were found near Martin’s car, the same that had been used in Griffin and Moore’s murders the previous month. One of the accounts of abuse recalled Youell having to stay outside while the family ate dinner inside, for unknown reasons. The cold case of the Texarkana Phantom is a story unlike any other.  While processing the scene and putting the pieces together of what happened, word of mouth spread like wildfire. 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