Newspaper clippings · Serial Killers · Texas

The first victims of the Texarkana Moonlight Murders

February 22, 1946
Texarkana, Texas
Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne Larey are attacked by the Phantom Killer

Hollis and Larey were parked in a car at the local lover’s lane when they were approached by a man who would later be dubbed the Phantom Killer. The assailant blinded Hollis with a flashlight. Assuming the man was either mistaking Hollis for another person or pulling a prank, he said “Fellow, you’ve got me mixed up with someone else. You’ve got the wrong man.” The man stated he did not wish to harm either occupant of the vehicle and told them to do as he said.

Both Hollis and Larey exited the car from the driver-side door, whereupon the attacker told Hollis “take off your fucking britches.” He did so and then was struck in the head with a heavy object which crushed his skull. The sound of his skull cracking was so loud Larey initially thought he had been shot.

The assailant looked for Hollis’ wallet and demanded Larey’s purse, though she did not bring one with her. He then hit Larey on the head with a hard blunt object then told her to run. As she ran away, she turned back to see Hollis being beaten and kicked. Larey had difficulty running in her high heels and was tackled by the attacker who asked her why she ran. When she replied that he had told her to, he called her a liar and sexually assaulted her with the barrel of his gun.

Larey was able to run from the man and find help at a house about a half mile away. Hollis was able to find help at a funeral home and was treated for 3 skull fractures. Both managed to survive the attack.

Although Hollis was blinded by the assailant’s flashlight and was struck over the head promptly thereafter, he was unable to describe the man. Larey, however, described a man with a white mask with they eyes and mouth cut out.

Hollis and Larey were the first two victims of who would later be called the Phantom Killer who killed 5 and wounded one more between February 22 and May 3, 1946. Though significant media exposure and rewards circulated in the area, no conclusive leads were found. The case remains unsolved.

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