TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — Note: The video above is from 2020 when an arrest was made.
On Friday morning in a courtroom in Fort Worth, a 47-year-old murder mystery began to unravel.
Glen Samuel McCurley, 78, is on trial accused of kidnapping and killing Carla Walker in west Fort Worth more than four decades ago. Her body was found on Feb. 20, 1974, in a culvert in a remote area near Benbrook Lake.
Her murder went unsolved until last year when investigators arrested McCurley after linking his DNA to a sample found on Walker’s bra from the crime scene.
McCurley has pleaded not guilty. He entered the courtroom Friday morning in a wheelchair that he moved with his own feet. He wore a white button-down shirt and black pants. He had a salt-and-pepper beard, and his thinning hair was slicked straight back. He stood up, along with the rest of the courtroom, when the jury entered.
Prosecutor Emily Dixon told jurors that advancements in DNA technology finally gave authorities a generic profile of the killer.
“From 1974, where her body was found, that identity remained on the evidence, but it couldn’t be interpreted, translated, made into something useful until much later in 2019,” Dixon said during her opening statement.
McCurley’s defense attorney told jurors during opening statements that they should question the nearly half-century-old DNA evidence they will hear in the case.
“There’s not going to be a whole lot of evidence about what happened with that bra between 1974 and the time it was tested in 2019,” said defense attorney Steven Miears. “You’re going to have to decide for yourself whether any of that could have been contaminated evidence.”
Carla's then-boyfriend testifies
Other than the killer, the only living witness to the crime was Rodney McCoy, Walker’s boyfriend at the time.
He was a senior on the Western Hills High School football team, and Walker was a 17-year-old junior.
“When I saw her, I smiled. She smiled,” recalled McCoy, now 65, when he first met Walker. “I did love her.”
He testified that on the night of Feb. 17, 1974, he took her to a Valentine’s dance at their school. Afterward, they hung out at a Taco Bell, and later, they went to the Ridglea bowling alley to go to the bathroom. They got back in the car and began kissing, he testified.
“The car door yanked open,” McCoy testified. They had both been leaning against the passenger door, and they partially fell out of the car. McCoy said someone hit him on the head.
“I remember I was holding her and the blood started flowing down my forehead down into my eyes,” McCoy testified. “I’m not sure how many times I got hit. I believe it was more than once, according to Carla’s reaction. She screamed ‘Stop hitting him!’”
'I was in shock'
McCoy told jurors he realized he had been hit with a gun when the attacker pointed it at him, inches from his head.
“He pulled the trigger three times. And all I heard were the three clicks. Nothing came out of the gun,” McCoy said.
Police later found a magazine that had fallen out of a .22-caliber Ruger pistol on the ground of the bowling alley parking lot.
McCoy said the attacker muttered, “You’re coming with me” and took the young girl away.
“Carla turned her face to me, and I can visualize, and said, ‘Rodney, go get dad. Go get my dad,’” he recalled, his voice quavering with emotion. “That’s the last words I heard from Carla.”
McCoy testified he blacked out, and when he came to, “I looked over to the passenger seat, Carla was gone. It had all become real. I was totally panicked.”
He testified he never saw the attacker’s face.
“I could barely see the outline of the body behind Carla,” he said.
McCoy said he drove to Walker’s house. Blood was still flowing down into his eyes. He got out of his car, ran to the door and beat on it. He told the family what happened. “I was in shock,” he told jurors.
Retired Fort Worth police detective Darrell Thompson testified about finding Walker’s body near Benbrook Lake. Jack Boulton, retired Fort Worth sergeant who worked in the crime scene unit, talked about making a film of the location where Walker’s body was found. Prosecutors played it for jurors, who saw detectives removing Walker’s partially nude body from a large, remote culvert.
On cross-examination, a defense attorney noted to Boulton that he saw no one wearing gloves or shoe coverings in the crime scene film, alluding to allegations evidence could have been tainted.
James Bennett, 78, another retired Fort Worth investigator, testified about how police searched for guns matching the Ruger magazine left behind at the bowling alley parking lot.
He testified that that particular model of pistol would not fire a chambered bullet if the magazine was not inserted.
Prosecutors showed autopsy photos depicting bruising on Walker’s neck and numerous abrasions and cuts on her body.
McCurley faces life in prison if convicted.