True Crime Recaps

Horror at the Bowling Alley: The Murder of Carla Walker

May 30, 2019 Episode 8
True Crime Recaps
Horror at the Bowling Alley: The Murder of Carla Walker
Chapters
True Crime Recaps
Horror at the Bowling Alley: The Murder of Carla Walker
May 30, 2019 Episode 8
True Crime Recaps
Carla Walker's murder sounds like an urban legend. But the nightmare is all too real.
Show Notes Transcript

It sounds like an urban legend. Carla Walker and her boyfriend, Rodney McCoy, were making out in his car after a high school dance when suddenly a killer opened the passenger door and ripped Carla right out of Rodney’s arms. But it’s no joke. It really happened to that perfect high school couple on February 17, 1974, in Benbrook, Texas. 

And Carla’s killer is still at large! 

This cold case has gone 45 years without a single lead. But just this year police released new evidence in hopes that you might be able to tell them who did it. 

Got 20 minutes? Then you have enough time to let your host, Amy Townsend, give you the recap version of the Carla Walker murder & even a tip at the end on what to listen to so you can dive deeper into this murder case. 

Think of it like having a quick conversation with your most outrageous friend about murder. Trust us, ya won’t even miss the other 30-45 minutes. And just think how many other podcasts you can listen to with all the time you save! 

See the transcript and images from this case at www.truecrimerecaps.com.


Speaker 1:
0:05
Welcome to true crime recaps, the only podcast bringing you all the crime in half the time with double the, you're not going to believe this shit with your host, the one you'd call if you had to hide a body. Amy towns when the killing stops. She's just getting started.
Speaker 2:
0:30
Well, hey there. I'm Amy. I hope you're ready to rant and rave because today's recap is so freaking sad and frustrating and it's been going on for decades. Kind of like your work week, right? So we start our story in a small town right outside of big city Benbrook, Texas, 70 miles southwest of downtown Fort Worth. People that live there today say it's safe, quiet, peaceful. The perfect example of stress free country style living, Ya know who might beg to differ with that description. 17 year old Karla Walker who is ripped out of her boyfriend's arms where they sat in his car outside of Benbrook bowling alley on Saturday. That'd be wary. 17th 1974 so Carla and her boyfriend, Rodney, were like the quintessential high school. Kapow Carla was a junior. Rodney was a senior and they both went to Western hills high school. Quick Fun fact. Todd Oldham, the fashion designer, graduated from Western hills high school in 1980 isn't that kind of bizarre, but I digress.
Speaker 2:
1:40
Todd Oldham is doing fine. This is about Carla, so let me get back to our perfect couple. Oh Carla. She's outgoing, athletic, popular. She's got long blonde hair. She's only four [inaudible] 11 she just tiny and gorgeous. She's a cheerleader. Rodney is on the football team. He's tall, good looking dark hair. I mean we are talking prom, queen and King. So that night, February 17th they went to a Valentine's Day dance at their school and afterwards they went out with friends to one of those busy drive up food places. Do you know what I'm talking about? It's like like a driving. Where are you mostly just sit outside with your food and hang out with your friends? I mean, you can't really call it a restaurant because they don't actually have like an inside and they definitely don't have a bathroom for the public. We're just kind of where everything went really, really wrong because around midnight, Carla had to go to the bathroom.
Speaker 2:
2:38
So Rodney drove her to the Ridgely bowling alley, which is nearby fun pack that is now the Sendero Center. If you're in that area, that parking lot, this is where that all went down. Yet another reason to avoid public bathrooms coming up here in about 15 seconds, people. So Rodney and Carla walked back out to his car after she's done with the bathroom, they get in the car and they're really only there for a few minutes there, you know, kissing and making out and why shouldn't they? Two beautiful kids in love, and neither of them notice a strange man come up to the door and open it in, grab for Carla. So Rodney lunch for her, but her back was against the door and she basically fell backwards out of the car when this guy opened it. And Rodney is trying to grab for Carla and trying to fight off the attacker.
Speaker 2:
3:26
And meanwhile the guy is beating him over the head with a pistol. He's literally pistol whipping him and screaming that he's going to kill him. Meanwhile, Carla is begging the guy to stop telling him she's going to go with him and she's yelling for Rodney to call her dad. And that's the last thing he heard before he lost consciousness. When he came to a few minutes later, he raced over to Carla's house. The doorbell's just started ringing frantically in my parents' house. I mean, it was just bang and bang a vein. Cynthia stones as it was then. Her family's living nightmare began. She was just 18 when her younger sister Carla Vanish, had blood just coming down his face, just screaming. They got her, they got her, they got her. They took her. I know she was terrified. Um, and for her to say, go get help. I'll go with you.
Speaker 2:
4:14
Don't hurt him. That was kind of person. She was as Cynthia Stone. Carla's sister remembers her father racing back to the parking lot to help, but Carla was long gone by that time. The only thing police found in the way of potential clues at the scene was a clip for a 22 caliber Ruger pistol. They figured it came from the attacker's gun and maybe it had fallen out before he opened the door, which is why Rodney is still alive. We just waited for, we kept thinking honestly, somebody would drop by in the middle of the night and push her out of the car. Yeah. Unfortunately, about three days later to fort worth, police officer's, Steve Noone, Kester and Darryl Thompson. We're searching for her body and since it was a little cold that day, they were taking turns getting out of the car to look and culverts. Okay. Since I had to look it up and just in case you're like me sitting there going, wait, what the fuck is it called?
Speaker 2:
5:08
Art a covert is a big pipe drain thingy. They're usually found underneath the road or a bridge, so now we both know, but anyhow, it was Darryl Thompson's turned to get out and they stopped off of a farm road near Benbrook Lake. There was a culvert there. He's quoted as saying, I looked over the edge and sure enough, she was there in a light blue dress, the same dress she would have worn to the dance three days before. It was evident that she was dead due to some discoloration. He said, I walked back to the car and I was standing outside in the roadway. I said, Steve, she's under this bridge. According to the autopsy, she was beaten, raped, tortured, and strangled, and ultimately killed two or even three days before her body was found. One other bizarre fact came up in the tox screen report. Carla tested positive for morphine, which is so fucking weird, right?
Speaker 2:
6:05
I mean, that's not necessarily a common drug now and it definitely wasn't easy to get back. Then. The other really weird thing is that no needle marks were noted on her autopsy, so he didn't actually inject her with it. He must've given it to her in a pill just like why? Unless they just didn't see the injection mark. But in any case, the morphine was a huge flag directing police towards suspects with medical or vet training or like medical adjacent. But no suspects turned up, nothing panned out and while they were able to collect some DNA from her dress and body, police have never been able to use it to id her attacker. One other very interesting clue was just released in April of this year, so soon after his body was discovered and anonymous handwritten letter was mailed to all of our ball. The detective in charge of the case.
Speaker 2:
7:02
It starts with a blacked out like redacted word or phrase or something. It could be a name but you can't read it and then it says killed spelled K I l D Karla Walker in Benbrook sign one zero one zero zero ps. It is hard to say but it is true sign one zero one zero zero and that's it. You can see that letter and other images from this case on our website@truecrimerecaps.com but what the fucking hell does one zero one zero zero mean right. Well one zero one zero zero or ten one hundred is police code for a dead body and it's also trucker CB radio code for a bathroom break. Huh? How weird is that? Carla used the bathroom in the bowling alley before she was skilled and then you know, they found her dead body. So either code could be the right one or who knows it could mean something completely different.
Speaker 2:
8:13
So why are police just releasing that letter to the public now when it was received almost 45 years ago and it was never shared with the public or family and tell. Now, well, many of the investigators on the case of died like the original detective Oliver Ball, or they've retired or they've moved on to other jobs in law enforcement. It's a whole new cast of characters over there. So now, according to Fort Worth, police spokesperson, Graziano, Cassata cold case investigators decided to release the letter publicly as an effort to track down the letters author because in 45 freaking years, there have been almost no developments on this case. And I say almost no developments because one man, Jimmy Dean Sasser actually confessed to her murder in the late seventies and he was indicted for it. But then he later recanted his confession because he didn't have any real knowledge of any of the facts that would have been known only to the killer and there was no other evidence linking him to our murder.
Speaker 2:
9:23
I'm surprised they even got as far as indicting him, but they ended up releasing him who can actually see an old timey video of him walking out of prison, swearing up and down that he was drunk when he confessed and that who is turning his life over to God and basically never doing anything that stupid again and he must not have because a search for his name turns up nothing. After that incident, another name comes up quite a bit in connection to this case though, and Fort Worth police and those people closely connected to this crime have made it clear that they wish it would not come up because up until his death in 2010 burglary, detective John Tarell insisted on pointing the finger at a man named William Ted Wilhoit. Now that guy is a genuine fucking psycho, but again for the last 45 years, investigators then and now along with others, closely involved in the case, swear on a freaking stack of bibles that William will, Hoyt is not and never has been a viable suspect in this case, but he is a total creep and you should understand why John Tarell held onto this theory for the rest of his frequent life and why we will be chatting about him next week.
Speaker 2:
10:48
Let's just say William Wilhoit has been compared to Ted Bundy, any is currently out on parole and still living in Texas. So yeah, you're gonna want to listen next week for sure. But anyway, his main accuser in this case, detective John Tarell was one of those police officers that didn't get along great with the brass. He had his own way of doing things and it wasn't entirely by the book and he ruffled some feathers. If this was a movie, he would totally be played by Mel Gibson. You know the lethal weapon version, not the crazy racist version, but among other things, William will, hoy is a burglar. That's what put him on John Tarell's radar in the first place. So you know, he's familiar with his work. Then John starts making connections between Wilhoit and some of the facts surrounding Carla's murder. Like the fact that Wilhoit lived near the bowling alley where she was grabbed, he's about the same age twenties early twenties and ethnicity.
Speaker 2:
11:53
So white guy. And that Rodney, he remember seeing that and John thinks he's probably just psychotic enough based on his past rapes, attempted murders, things like that. But again, we'll get into that next week because it's pretty fucking insane and probably could have done this thing. I'm not saying he did, but let's just say he wasn't opposed to, you know, murder or rape or strangling a girl or grabbing her out of the car. In fact, John even went so far as to tell the detectives working on Carla's case that they should look at Wilhoit for it. So fast forward to March, 1975 Wilhoit Hoyt is back on John's to do list for trying to pawn stolen items, including guns and he's trying to cash stolen savings bonds. And he's generally acting like a total asshole and he needs to be arrested. So John and his partner, you know, they arrest him and when he gets in the car we'll says something along the lines of, I was wondering when you are going to come after me for Carlo Walker, you know, or something like that.
Speaker 2:
12:57
You should know that in addition to burglary, rape, murder, Wilhoit also finds time to attend church with his wife and baby, specifically the Church of Christ and even wanted to become a minister. I mean, I just, I can't, so he's under arrest for this latest burglary and John decides to push him a little bit on the subject of Karla Walker since he sort of brought it up when they arrested him. And okay, yes, I can see where this behavior would be incredibly irritating to the other cops that were actually assigned to the case. It's like that horrible coworker who won't stay in her freaking lane at the office and just ends up making more work for you. But you can probably also see why he thought this Jackass William Wilhoit may have done it. So anyway, John Gets Wilhite talking about religion and he tells him that Karla Walker was also a Church of Christ member.
Speaker 2:
14:01
Now apparently this revelation makes Wilhoit start to cry. So Jon continues to push him and he starts urging him to confess to the murder and tell him what happened. And according to the interview, John Did with Fort Worth weekly about seven years before he died, White said something along the lines of, I guess I might as well, but just then before he could say anything else, a federal agent came in to interrogate Wilhoit about the stolen bonds he'd been arrested for and he stopped talking. Of course, John Thought he was about to close this huge homicide case, but who knows, right? The guy might've just been playing with him or it might've been about to confess to something else, but John takes it seriously enough to tell the detective on the case of the George Hudson that Wilhoit was almost ready to confess and they needed to give him a lie detector test, which they do eventually and he fails of course.
Speaker 2:
15:05
But by this time he's been in prison for awhile and according to John Wilhoit is too hardened at this point to break down and confessed to anything. And he even goes so far as to say that Wilhoit failed that test because he did hurt a woman in a similar crime. He shot a girl five times in the face after breaking into her apartment, but she didn't die miraculously. But we're going to talk about that next week. Meantime, Wilhoit is not confessing to shit and he never discussed his walker with John or anyone else again. And investigators say that no DNA or any other evidence has ever connected him to Carla's case. So he's never officially been a suspect. So Carla's case went cold for nearly 40 years before Denta Duh. The gone cold podcast discovered and made her murder at the subject. Yeah,
Speaker 3:
15:58
get there first season. [inaudible]
Speaker 4:
16:09
oh, this person spent quite a bit of time in the Commission of this monstrous act. Hi y'all. I'm Vincent, host of gone cold podcast, Texas true crime. Each week we take a thorough look at lesser known unsolved cases throughout the lone star state here. Victim stories as told by their loved ones and expert insight from law enforcement and medical professionals. You know, using your snapchat that's extremely violent and rageful type of act. The truth is out there somewhere and you can help us find it. Yeah. Before I die, I want to know who did it. Please join us as we examine, forgotten Texas cases. Subscribe and listen to gone. Cold podcast, Texas true crime on your favorite podcatcher. There are monsters at the moment
Speaker 2:
17:03
as a result of the attention they generated for it. The case was reopened and investigators started looking at it with fresh eyes. Eventually leading to this year's release of that anonymous letter now gone called devoted nine episodes to this case and it's pretty fucking fascinating. They go into detail on Carla's life, her murder and the inner workings of the investigation, including interviews with her family, your friends, law enforcement. I mean they are very connected to this case and there absolutely the last word on what's happening. I highly recommend putting it on your playlist so you can dive so far into this case. You're going to feel like you were there, except I mean, thank God you weren't. Well, I don't know about you, but I feel like I could definitely talk about the car that Walker murder with confidence at any party this weekend at least until the host and other guests asked me to stop being so creepy and weird, but I hope you feel like you learned a little something.
Speaker 2:
18:02
Maybe what your appetite to go check out the gun cold series about this case and you can grab a direct link to their coverage@thekarlawalkermurderonourwebsiteattruecrimerecaps.com. Thanks again for showing up for this episode of true crime recaps. Next week we're going to explore the horrifying crimes of William Willow aid, one of which almost sent an innocent man to prison for 40 years. It's actually pretty fucking crazy. The guy escaped with his lawyer's secretary, changed his identity all in an effort to escape a murder rap he didn't deserve. This is a movie waiting to happen, so don't forget to tap, subscribe. So you get that episode and every episode downloaded automatically. And did I mention that that guy is still alive and kicking a Texas? Yeah, so it's pretty much a public service to get a better idea of what he's been arrested for. And thanks again to our friends at gone cold for their coverage. At this case, you're doing the Lord's work people, and until next time, keep your head up and your keys and they defensive position. Wow.
Speaker 1:
19:14
We know you have a lot of murders dissolve. Thanks for taking 30 minutes to catch up with true crime recap. If you like the show, please show your support with five stars and a written review. Let's keep the conversation going. Join us on the socials at true prime recaps, and while you're feeling chatty, don't forget to tell your friends to listen to true crime recaps. See you next Friday.