Family of murdered Fort Worth girl hopes old letter will re-invigorate investigation

A man who was praised for helping police make an arrest earlier this month is now asking others to do the same.

Jim Walker, who is legally blind, made a decision to be a Fort Worth police officer nearly 45 years ago in the days that passed after Carla Walker, his older sister, was kidnapped and murdered.

“We never got a chance to form the brother and sister bond,” Jim Walker said. “She was 17 and I was 12, the annoying little brother. But the things she did for me let me know that she loved me.”

Police released a letter Friday that was mailed to a detective shortly after Carla Walker was kidnapped and killed in 1974. The handwritten letter indicates that the author might know something about the killing, but investigators have no idea who that author might be, according to police.

The detective working on the case at the time died and never shared the letter with the public or family. The letter is thought to have been mailed within days of Carla Walker’s death, according to the family.

The Walker family is hoping the release of this evidence might spur someone’s conscience or memory and bring forth other information that will help investigators solve this case.

Parts of the letter police released on social media have been redacted, but it appears to read in part “killed Carla Walker in Benbrook” and ends with, “PS: It is hard to say but it is true.”

“The author of this letter is encouraged to come forward and speak with detectives about his or her knowledge of the murder,” a news release from the Fort Worth Police Department says. “It is the hope of the Fort Worth Police Department that this person will provide valuable information that may bring peace and closure to Carla’s family after 45 long years. “

The letter’s author is not believed to be a suspect. Detectives just want to speak with him or her in an effort to develop more credible information, said Ivan Gomez, Fort Worth police spokesman.

With social media and the near instantaneous spread of information worldwide, chances are people with knowledge of the crime will see this letter, Walker’s relatives said.

“Someone knows something,” Jim Walker said. “The author of this letter clearly wants to get something off their chest. It’s time for somebody to do the right thing and step forward.”

Walker, 57, said his goal was to join the Fort Worth Police Department and work his way onto the cold case squad, get his hands on his sister’s case file and solve her murder.

But it was not to be.

Walker was accepted as a recruit to the police academy, but noticed that he was slowly losing his eyesight, and dropped out before completing his training. Walker said he did not want to become a liability to the department or any of his fellow officers.

But Walker said that he believes that when you have an opportunity to help, what you do is step up and help.

“I saw a lot of good police officers come through who really wanted to find her or find the person who did this to her,” Walker said. “A lot of good people have put a lot of effort into this.”

Walker gets involved

Walker, a legally blind disability counselor, said he was nearby with his wife and his service dog, Cassie, earlier this month when a struggle between two suspects and two police officers broke out.

Walker helped disarm a suspect and then got on top of him, holding him down while the officers secured a gun and took the two suspects into custody, Officer David Woolbright said.

The officers had the men in handcuffs when the man Woolbright had custody of began to struggle with him, Woolbright said. Walker assisted until the gun was secured, Woolbright said.

“I didn’t know he (Walker) was there until he was right there,” Woolbright said. “Until he was climbing on top.”

The other Fort Worth officer, Matthew Brazeal, said Walker helped Woolbright subdue one of the suspects while other people were watching and shooting video.

‘We’re not going away’

The first thing they heard 45 years ago, on Feb. 17, 1974, that let the family know something was wrong was a frantic knocking at the front door, Carla’s older sister Cindy Stone said.

Carla Walker’s high school sweetheart, Rodney McCoy, was standing at the front door with blood flowing from his forehead, screaming — “They’ve got her, they’ve got her!” the Walker family said. “They’re going to hurt her bad!”

Jim Walker holds a photo of his sister Carla Walker. The body of Carla Walker, a Fort Worth teen, was recovered near Benbrook Lake 45 years ago. Fort Worth detectives hope the release of a letter will generate new clues in the case.

The police investigation concluded that the kidnapping was conducted by a single person who attacked Carla and McCoy as they sat in a car, Stone said.

McCoy went to the hospital that same night. He had been pistol whipped and lost consciousness for a time, Jim Walker said.

McCoy and Carla Walker were in the Ridgelea Bowl parking lot when Carla was abducted, according to police. Carla’s body was found three days later in a culvert near Lake Benbrook in Tarrant County, police said.

According to her relatives, Carla Walker was a junior at Western Hills High School, while McCoy was a senior.

Police have said Carla Walker was beaten, tortured, raped and strangled, and then her assailant dumped her body near the lake. The family continues to miss her, the Walkers said.

Their parents kept a really nice portrait of Carla Walker at the house and every morning their mother would touch the picture, Jim Walker said. It was her way of saying, “Good morning,” he said.

“My mom suffered in incredible silence,” he said. “Back in the ‘70s you didn’t have Dr. Phil showing up at your door or all this group support. I saw her. I knew she became clinically depressed.”

His mother recovered without ever getting over her loss, Walker explained. She was a strong woman, he said.

“It hurt my mother and I know it hurt my father, too,” Walker said. “They were Depression babies. They just sucked it up and kept moving forward.”

Both parents have passed away.

People have been praying for this case to be solved for years, the family said.

“I feel like the hand of God is in this,” Jim Walker said. “This will be solved. This needs to be solved for Carla. These folks are earnestly looking for justice for Carla and we’re not going away.”

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Mitch Mitchell is an award-winning reporter covering courts and crime for the Star-Telegram. Additionally, Mitch’s past coverage on municipal government, healthcare and social services beats allow him to bring experience and context to the stories he writes.