A suspect in the grisly killing of a 17-year-old Texas girl has been arrested, 46 years after she was kidnapped, raped, strangled and dumped in a ditch, authorities said. Carla Walker was dragged from her boyfriend's car in 1974, as the couple sat in a bowling alley parking lot after attending their high school's Valentine's dance.
Rodney McCoy was the starting quarterback of the high school football team. Walker was a varsity cheerleader.
McCoy told police a man with a gun yanked Walker from the passenger seat, then beat his head with the pistol until he passed out. When he came to, Walker was gone and her purse was in the parking lot.
Her body was found three days later in a culvert on the south side of Fort Worth. The coroner later said she had been tortured, strangled, raped and injected with morphine.
This week, police announced Glen Samuel McCurley, 77, had been arrested and charged with capital murder in Walker's death. He is currently being held at the Tarrant County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail, online records show.
McCurley had initially been a person of interest in the case, because he had recently purchased a gun, a .22 Ruger, that matched a magazine found in the parking lot. He also lived less than a mile from the ditch where Walker was discovered.
Questioned by police, McCurley said his pistol had been stolen while he was on a fishing trip. He didn't report it because he was an ex-con, having served prison time for stealing a car, he said. He denied being involved in the killing and said he did not know the girl, authorities said.
For years, police considered that her death could be the work of a serial killer because of similar kidnapping and slayings in the area. But detectives now believe her abduction was a totally random act, allegedly committed by a man who lived a normal suburban life afterward and never came to the attention of police again.
McCurley still lived in the same Fort Worth house where he was originally questioned, and has two grown sons, police said.
At the time of the killing, police said they determined he was not at work on the day of the attack and that his wife was out of town. But they had nothing else linking him to the crime.
“There just wasn’t enough information at the time,” said Fort Worth detective Leah Wagner at press conference Tuesday announcing the arrest.
Last year, she reopened the case with detective Jay Bennett of the cold case unit.
They ran Walker's clothing through Othram, a private DNA lab, where it was tested with technology not available at the time.
Now armed with a full DNA profile, the investigators ran it through the FBI's national database, but got no hits. Then they turned to a private database used for genealogy research, where they say it matched three brothers whose last name was McCurley.
Detectives seized items from a trash receptacle in front of Glen McCurley's home. They also visited him there and again questioned him about Walker's death, they said. He submitted to being swabbed for DNA analysis and again denied any involvement in the girl's death, authorities said.
Testing matched McCurley's DNA to genetic material found on Walker's bra, the detectives said.
McCurley was arrested on Monday.
"It was a mixture of emotions. A little bit of shock, excitement, a little bit of fear," Wagner said. "It's one thing to work toward a goal and it's another to achieve it and this was a huge goal. It was a really big win for us and the Walker family. We're just ecstatic."
Her parents are now dead. Her brother, who was only 12 when his sister was killed, wept at the press conference.
“There were really dark times watching the pain my mom went through,” said Jim Walker. “The word that came across my brain was 'finally, finally,'" he said. “This is a resolution that’s been prayed for.”