From the moment they occurred during the same week 39 years ago, the homicides of Carla Walker and Linda Espinoza had only one thing in common — both remain unsolved.
Walker, a high-profile junior at Western Hills High School in Fort Worth, was abducted in the parking lot of a Benbrook bowling alley. Her body was found in a culvert near Lake Benbrook several days later with evidence that she had been raped and strangled.
The Walker case was heavily publicized and heavily policed, initially by as many as 25 Fort Worth officers, then by Tarrant County detectives and the Texas Rangers. One retired Fort Worth officer worked the case to his dying day, convinced he knew who did the killing.
Compared to Walker, the 23-year-old Espinoza was a face in the crowd.
She resided at least part-time with family at 306 N. Washington St. on Cleburne’s east side and was probably unknown to readers of the Times-Review until her nude, badly decomposed body was found Feb. 14 in a creek bed near Grandview. A knife wound to the chest proved fatal.
Johnson County Sheriff’s Office personnel worked the Espinoza case as attentively as their limited manpower allowed.
According to a Feb. 16, 1974, Times-Review article, “C.C. Kennard, criminal investigator for the 18th Judicial District, said he and Sheriff’s Department investigators Al Stone and Jerry Hughes talked to probably 15 persons.
“[Kennard] said there have been no arrests and they have no good suspect on the information now available.”
Ironically, that may be to the advantage of the current Johnson County Cold Case squad as it begins another investigation of a long-dormant case.
There is considerable information about the Espinoza case to explore. For one, her home address is East James in one story and North Washington in her obituary.