The Phantom Killer
On February 22, 1946, 24-year-old Jimmy Hollis and 19-year old Mary Jeanne Larey were out on a date on a remote piece of land outside the city limits of Texarkana, Texas. At the time, this was undeveloped land and was known as "Lovers Lane" by the teenage population. As the two sat in their car, a man approached them wearing a white hood over his head with two holes cut out for his eyes. In one hand he held a flashlight and in the other, a gun. He ordered the two out of the car and they quickly complied. Standing outside the car, the man ordered Hollis to drop his pants or he would shoot. As the boy complied, he was forcefully struck twice on the head, hard enough to crack his skull and render him unconscious.
The man then turned his attention to Larey, who initially thought Hollis had been shot because the sound of the blows had been so loud. In shock from what she saw, she was struck by something, but managed to get back on her feet. At this point, the stranger told her to run. She did and could hear the sounds of blows as the man began kicking and beating a helpless Hollis. Suddenly she was overtaken and knocked to the ground, where the man began to sexually abuse her with the barrel of his pistol. Just as suddenly as it started, the abuse stopped and the man got up and left her lying in the road. She found out later that Hollis had somehow managed to get to his feet and went to the road where he stopped a car. Spooked by the headlights, the man had apparently fled. Larey was treated at the hospital for her wounds and released, but Hollis remained hospitalized for months with a fractured skull.
Only the Beginning
They had no way of knowing it at the time, but Hollis and Larey were the first victims of The Phantom Killer and two of the lucky few that would survive. His crime spree would last from February to May of 1946 and would end with five people dead. The city of Texarkana lived in fear with what the national media would dub the "The Texarkana Moonlight Murders." In 1976, local filmmaker Charles B. Pierce would use the crimes as a basis for the film, The Town That Dreaded Sundown. Like his first film, The Legend of Boggy Creek, the movie would be shot in a pseudo-documentary style that featured narration and re-enactments of the crimes. No one would ever be arrested for the murders and they are still listed as unsolved to date.
The Location Today
The old dirt road called Lovers Lane and the surrounding territory would be developed at a later date. These days, the parking lot of Texarkana's Central Mall is considered to be near or at the location where the crime took place.