After decades of mystery, investigators have arrested the man they believe is responsible for the murder of a Texas cheerleader who vanished after a Valentine’s Day dance.
Glen Samuel McCurley, 77, was arrested on Tuesday for the 1974 murder of 17-year-old Carla Jan Walker, reported Fort Worth NBC affiliate KXAS-TV.
Walker and her boyfriend, Western Hills High School football quarterback Rodney McCoy, attended a Valentine’s dance on Feb. 16, 1974. After the dance, they met up with friends and then stopped by a Fort Worth bowling alley.
McCoy has always maintained that a man approached the couple while they were sitting inside his car at the bowling alley parking lot and pointed a gun at him. He was beaten unconscious, and when he awoke, he found his cheerleader girlfriend missing.
Investigators now believe that it was McCurley who approached the couple and that he abducted Walker, holding her captive for days. Her body was found in a ditch three days after she was kidnapped, and her clothes had been ripped. Investigators determined Walker had been sexually assaulted, strangled and beaten, and they believe she was tortured and even injected with morphine before her death.
DNA evidence recovered on clothing and a bra worn by Walker during the attack was sent to private lab Othram Inc., which was able to create a full DNA profile of a suspect, according to KXAS-TV. That, in turn, led investigators to McCurley, who was already named as a possible suspect in Walker's case file. He had been linked to the crime because he owned a gun that matched a magazine found at the crime scene.
While he was interviewed in 1974, he claimed his firearm had been stolen. Walker, a truck driver, told investigators that on the day of the murder, he worked until 4:30 p.m. Having no other evidence linking him the crime, he was released.
"There just wasn’t enough information at the time,” said Fort Worth Detective Leah Wagner told CBS Dallas-Fort Worth.
Walker’s mysterious killing was explored in an episode of “The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes,” which aired earlier this year. Her older sister, Cindy Stone, described her as a “little spitfire” in an interview with Holes on the show.
Holes, a renowned cold case investigator, told Oxygen.com on Wednesday that the identification of Walker’s killer “does not bring Carla back, but most certainly will help the family get justice for what was done for Carla.”
He said he spoke with Walker’s brother, Jim Walker, on Tuesday morning and said the news has brought him some relief.
"It really underscores that no matter how old the case is, the family never forgets their loved one and needs to have an answer,” Holes said.
Jim expressed gratitude for the break in the case on Tuesday in an interview with CBS Dallas-Fort Worth.
“The word that came across my brain was finally, finally,” he said. “This is a resolution that’s been prayed for.”
Holes added that this arrest may have also brought relief to McCoy.
“He was under a cloud of suspicion for practically his entire adult life and now — at least as I understand the circumstances — is completely exonerated,” he told Oxygen.com. “The DNA and genealogy technology used works in both ways: catches the responsible and exonerates the innocent. It did both in this case.”
McCurley faces capital murder charges. He remains behind bars on a $100,000 bond. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer at this time.
To learn more about the case, watch "The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes" now on Oxygen.com.
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