FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The story of 17-year-old Carla Walker, a high school cheerleader from Benbrook kidnapped and killed in 1974, has been told and retold.
It’s a mystery her family never gave up trying to solve.
“There were really dark times watching the pain my mom went through,” said her brother Jim Walker, who was only 12 when she disappeared.
Wiping away tears, Walker expressed gratitude Tuesday to Fort Worth Police for the arrest of a suspect, 77-year-old Glen McCurley.
“The word that came across my brain was finally, finally, ” he said. “This is a resolution that’s been prayed for.”
The night Carla disappeared, she and her boyfriend went to a Valentine’s Day dance at Western Hills High School.
They ended up the parking lot of what was then the Ridglea Bowling Alley.
That’s where police say a man now believed to be McCurley opened their passenger side door, pulled Carla out, told her boyfriend, “I am going to kill you,” and shot at him.
Her boyfriend was treated for a head wound that appeared to come.
Carla’s body was found three days later in a culvert near Lake Benbrook.
In the bowling alley’s parking lot, near Carla’s purse, police discovered a magazine for a .22 Ruger pistol.
Detectives at the time questioned many various suspects, including McCurley, who came under suspicion because he lived nearby and owned a .22 Ruger pistol.
They learned he was off work the day of the attack and his wife out of town, but they had no other information linking him to the crime.
“There just wasn’t enough information at the time,” said Fort Worth Detective Leah Wagner.
In 2019, she and Detective Jay Bennett with the Cold Case Unit reopened the case.
Working with Othram, a private DNA lab in Houston, they succeeded in getting a full DNA profile off Carla’s clothing, something they’d been unable to do in the past.
When it failed to match to any DNA in CODIS, the national database operated by the FBI, they turned to GEDMATCH, a database used for genealogy research.
It was able to determine the DNA came from the McCurley family, narrowing the possibilities to three possible brothers.
Detectives then used DNA from trash taken from outside Glen McCurley’s home to confirm it was a match.
“The satisfaction of being able to give the walkers the answers they’ve been looking for almost 47 years is almost un-describable,” said Det Bennett.
McCurley is now charged with capital murder, and Carla’s family says it has an ending for her story.
“We have a name and face, and we’re moving forward. Complete resolution,” said Walker.
Police say in 46 years, McCurley never moved out of the area, continuing to live his life, with his wife and children.
They say he had no known connection to Carla and believe he targeted her at random.