It was February 17, 1974. Seventeen-year-old Carla Walker was sitting in her boyfriend’s car in the parking lot outside the Ridglea Bowl bowling alley. The two had just attended a Valentine dance at Western Hills High School, where Carla Walker was a cheerleader and Rodney Roy was a quarterback. Suddenly the door of the vehicle was ripped open and an unfamiliar man with a pistol in his hand began barking demands. Rodney was threatened and before he could react, he was struck multiple times across the face and head until he blacked out. When he regained consciousness, Carla was nowhere to be found. The man had abducted her, and the only trace of the teenager was her handbag which was later found in the parking lot.
Police, along with the family and friends of the victim, searched for Miss Walker to no avail. Three days later her body was found in an open drainage ditch near Lake Benbrook, TX, around a 30-minute drive from Fort Worth. The results of the autopsy revealed fragments of the nightmare Carla had endured for the three days she was missing. The girl had been tortured, repeatedly raped and strangled. Toxicology reports determined that she had also been pumped with morphine, administered through a syringe. Police were baffled that the killer had access to morphine, explaining that it was not the type of drug people could find easily on the street. Although a significant clue in the case, it did not aid in finding her killer.
One of the initial persons of interest in the case was a local man named Glen Samuel McCurley who would have been around 31 years old at the time of the crime. McCurley was a suspect for several reasons, including his criminal history. He had just finished a stint in prison for stealing a car, lived just shy of a mile from the scene of Carla Walkers abduction and to add weight to the theory that he was her killer, he had very recently purchased a .22 Ruger around the same time that took magazines consistent with the magazines found in the Ridglea parking lot. McCurley denied the allegations and told investigators that although he did own a .22 Ruger that it had been stolen from him and he had no idea where the pistol was. He claimed to have been living a quiet life since getting out of prison, working, fishing and spending time with his wife. His wife, he said, had been out of town at the time of the abduction so she was unable to provide an alibi. Even more suspiciously, Glen McCurley had taken a couple of days off work during the time Carla had been kidnapped.
He denied any connection to Carla Walker and her murder and without any evidence, police turned their attention elsewhere. With nothing else to go on, the case, inevitably, went cold and stayed cold for over four and a half decades. Samuel McCurley stayed in the area with his wife, having children of his own and watching them grow up- something Carla Walker’s parents would not get to do. The murdered teenagers’ parents would live on without her, grieving for their daughter until they too passed away without ever seeing her killer brought to justice.
The long unsolved murder got a second look last year when a detective at the Fort Worth Police Department teamed with a cold case detective and handed the victims clothing and underwear over to a lab named Othram. The Othram website states: “Othram enables human identification from difficult evidence such as touch DNA, rootless hair, and decades-old bones. Othram achieves results even when other approaches fail”. Oftentimes when it comes to decades-old evidence, samples are extremely difficult to obtain, however, the private lab was able to provide a complete DNA sample of Walker’s killer. After turning up no hits from CODIS, the profile was run through a genetic genealogy database where police were faced with a familiar name: McCurley. Three of the suspects relatives had profiles on the database.
Police needed a sample from Samuel McCurley himself, so they waited outside his home and collected discarded items from the trash outside of his house. They conducted another interview where the now 77-year-old continued to deny his involvement in the case and reiterated that he had never met Carla Walker. McCurley allowed the officers to swab the inside of his mouth which eventually lead to his arrest. The DNA matched that of the profile found on the victims clothing. Almost five decades later police finally had enough evidence to put the cuffs on McCurley.
Carla Walker is survived only by her brother, Jim, who was just 12 years old at the time of her murder. Her parents died without ever knowing what happened to her.
Jim was relieved to know that his sister’s killer has finally been caught 46 years after her murder. In a statement, Jim said that he harboured no hate towards Samuel McCurley and his family and said he had been praying for him and hoped one day to see him in heaven.