Book, movie to highlight Texarkana murders

"The Phantom Killer," by Texarkana historian Dr. James Presley tells the story of the 1946 serial murders.
"The Phantom Killer," by Texarkana historian Dr. James Presley tells the story of the 1946 serial murders.

TEXARKANA, TX (KSLA) - A Texarkana historian has written a book that aims to set the record straight on the 1946 serial murders that shook his town and left people all over the country puzzled.

Dr. James Presley says his book, "The Phantom Killer: Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Murders: The Story of a Town in Terror" tells the real story of what happened 68 years ago in and around Spring Lake Park.

"I thought this was the last chance to make a true record of the case, to get all the facts, because so much had been distorted by time," Presley said.

Presley said that string of murders changed the people of Texarkana. A normally pretty quiet town, citizens were put on high alert.

“We locked the house up like everyone else did and kept the gun handy,” he added.

Presley said the information in "The Phantom Killer" comes from years of research and interviews with people involved in the case, including his uncle Bill Presley, who was sheriff of Bowie County at the time of the murders.

“...And so he told me some of the things that had not been released to the news media, and in essence was unknown until then, and then I talked to other law officers who (were) still alive then.”

Police never made an official arrest in connection with the five murders that took place, but Presley says his research proves who committed the crimes. So the question now is, who was it?

“Well all of this will come out in the book,” he said.

“The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” the second movie about the murders with that title, will be released in theaters next month.

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