This Is The Terrifying Tale Of What Happened When I Went Too Deep Investigating Unsolved Murders On Reddit

No one knew more about the West Texas Phantom than grizzlymane415.

I exhausted all of the available information online – the Wikipedia page, the citations on the Wikipedia page, the weird blogspots, wordpresses and even a couple of Angelfires back in the day, the annoying slideshows which promised shocking revelations, but delivered none and just crashed my browser – they had all been laid to waste. My last bastion for any good information about the Phantom was an unsolved murder subreddit populated by other lonely weirdos who were probably collecting unemployment checks and ignoring the creepy messages on their numerous online dating profiles.

The group was great for the passionate discussions about the Phantom I could only have with complete, anonymous strangers who didn’t assume I was some kind of sociopathic serial killer myself when I wanted to talk about my fascination with the still free killer of more than 20 people who stalked the plains and oil fields of West Texas in the late-80s. The group was also well-stocked with fascinating theories, like how the Phantom may have been a railroad conductor, or how he was a well-known high school football coach named Butch whose crimes were covered up to protect his legacy.

I also relished when some “newb” would wander into the group and start spouting out information we all had already dissected down to the finest molecule. It got to the point where I put a sticky on top of the page which focused on the six principle pieces of information which defined the Phantom and led to my gang’s particular fascination with him. Unless someone had NEW information about any of these principles, any posts about them would be promptly deleted.

1. The Phantom took all of his victims in broad daylight (whether or not they were killed during the day was up for debate)
2. All of the Phantom’s victims were regular women, not the common prostitute victims most serial killers claimed
3. He used an 1894 Marlin Model rifle. An incredibly rare and valuable weapon.
4. It is likely he had a regular, white collar job as his killing sprees tended to take place just once a year in two-week spans.
5. It is possible he used railroads for transportation as nearly all of his killings took place near rail stops.
6. Tracks from a 1959 Chevrolet Apache truck were found leaving a few of the scenes.

However, none of this fully-satisfied my appetite for discovery. The only person who was able to do that was grizzlymane415.

It all started when grizzlymane415 posted viciously gruesome autopsy photos of one of the Phantom’s first victims. The images were so horrifying I felt I should have put that white powder they use in autopsy rooms in cop shows/movies underneath my nostrils so I didn’t vomit all over my keyboard. Full disclosure, about 90 percent of what I know about crime comes directly from TV and movies.

RachWhov: How did you get that?

I couldn’t have typed the question fast enough. I never got an answer.

Jack has written professionally as a journalist, fiction writer, and ghost writer. For more information, visit his website.

Keep up with Jack on Twitter and Website

More From Thought Catalog