The towns that dreaded sundown

Latest ‘Riverdale’ episode mentions Texarkana and draws parallels to the infamous Phantom Killer

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Story by Margaret Debenport, staff writer

If you’re from Texarkana, you know about the violent attacks the Phantom Killer carried out between Feb. 22 and May 3, 1946. The panic the town found itself in was long lasting, and the stories still haunt residents today. However, the possibility of people from other parts of the country mentioning or knowing of the attacks seemed slim to none until last week’s episode of the Archie comic inspired show, “Riverdale.”

(Spoilers ahead)

Within the first minute of the fourth episode titled “The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” Cole Sprouse’s character, Jughead Jones, mentions Texarkana. The town of Riverdale has been hit with a series of attempted killings and one death, and it seems the writers of the show have produced a murderer similar to the one that once roamed our very own town.

Riverdale’s assailant is known as the Black Hood, drawing parallels to the description Texarkana resident and witness, Mary Jeanne Larey, gave the police after she escaped the phantom stating that he wore a white hood with holes cut out for the eyes and mouth. The only difference found here is in the color of the hood.

In the second episode of the new season, an attack on two Riverdale teens seems to be a mix of the nights that Larey and her date, Jimmy Hollis, and a later couple, Texarkana residents Richard L. Griffin and Polly Ann Moore, dreadfully experienced in the nights they were attacked by the Phantom Killer. Both couples were parked in lover’s lanes across Texarkana, just as Riverdale characters Moose and Midge were.

In Hollis’s description, he shares that a masked man comes to the window of his car and shines a flashlight into his face, just as it happens on the show. The tragic night that Griffin and Moore experienced is incorporated in the scene when the masked man begins to shoot the TV couple. We circle back to the attack on Larey and Hollis when Midge escapes the car and finds help while Moose stays behind at the scene of the crime and makes it out alive.

Whether or not the plot of “Riverdale” has drawn any inspiration from the events that happened in Texarkana is cloudy and debatable. However, residents of “Riverdale” are in for a long ride full of terror and panic if the Black Hood gets away just as tragically as the Texarkana Phantom Killer did.