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Government In Market: Looking for answers, podcasts probe unsolved Texas murders

In Market: Looking for answers, podcasts probe unsolved Texas murders

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

If, like me, you found yourself glued to your computer listening to the Serial podcast, you’ve probably been seeking something similar to grab your attention.

While I’m doing that morning newsletter that you readers love (usually around midnight) I listen to podcasts to pass the time while I seek stories to enlighten and entertain. Joe Barton, I’m talking about you.

Finding a replacement for Serial has been difficult. But while looking for some information on another infamous Fort Worth unsolved crime, I stumbled across a locally-produced podcast devoted to some unsolved Texas crimes.

But, as I said, I listen to a lot of podcasts. The quality ranges from great – Serial, for instance – to almost hilariously overwrought: Up and Vanished (which did actually have the case solved along the way, so I’ll give them credit.)

It’s a nice surprise when a podcast, like Gone Cold, is very good, well-written and easy to follow. That’s important when I’m listening at the same time I’m searching for the latest Fort Worth real estate deal at 1 a.m.

As the website states, the Gone Cold podcast explores unsolved murders and missing persons cases throughout the state of Texas.

The first case they tackle, over several episodes, is the 1974 abduction and murder of Carla Walker. Fort Worth residents like me, who had just graduated from high school then, can’t forget it. Every time I attend an event at the Cendera Center, which was once the Ridglea Bowl, where the crime occurred, I think about.

If you don’t know the case, it was a mystery then. It remains one now.

Here’s the summary of the case:

Just after midnight on Feb. 14, 1974, 17-year-old Carla Walker, a student at Western Hills High School, was abducted from the passenger side of her boyfriend’s car. The boyfriend struggled with the perpetrator, but was wounded and lay unconscious for a period of time. Three days later Walker’s body was found in a culvert just off the road near Benbrook Lake.

Since then, there have been some suspects and a few dribbles of new information (morphine was found in her system, for instance), but not much else.

Gone Cold spends several episodes on the case, speaking to friends and family members. We don’t hear much from the police, but that’s pretty typical for these podcasts.

The husband and wife from Fort Worth behind the podcast – Vincent and Erica Strange (not their real last name) spend a good deal of time examining the impact of these cases on the family and friends – and that’s by design, says Vincent. They want the listeners to understand the impact of crime on friends, family and the community at large. Walker’s case is over 40 years old, but for some of the people interviewed on the podcast, it might as well have happened yesterday.

When I spoke to Vincent he said they were initially intrigued by Walker’s case nearly a year ago and eventually decided to do a podcast in hopes of bringing forth some information that might solve the crime.

While I remember well the Walker case, I was less aware of the unsolved murder of Becky Martin, who was abducted from the then-Tarrant County Junior College South Campus parking lot in February 1973 and later found murdered. That case, and the 1967 murder of Mildred May, also in February, are dubbed “The February Murders,” though there may be no connection between the cases.

If you were around in those years, the podcast certainly deserves a listen. If you weren’t, I’d still say the same.

Who knows, you may know something.

Vincent promises some updates to the Walker podcasts sometime after the New Year. Fort Worth police say the Walker case remains open and active. Anyone with information is encouraged to call Fort Worth’s Cold Case Unit at 817-392-4307.

Robert Francis is editor of the Fort Worth Business Press.

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