Case 121

The Freeway Phantom

*** Content Warning: child victims, child sexual assault, sexual assault ***

During the early 1970s in Washington, D.C, six black girls aged between 10 and 18 were abducted and murdered in separate brutal attacks. The bodies of Carole Spinks, Darlenia Johnson, Brenda Crockett, Nenomoshia Yates, Brenda Woodard and Diane Williams were all found alongside busy roads, with most showing evidence of strangulation and sexual assault. The unidentified perpetrator, thought to be Washington’s first serial killer, became known as The Freeway Phantom.



Casefile Presents



Research – Anonymous Host

Writing – Elsha McGill

Narration – Anonymous Host



‘Flatline intro’ and ‘Come play with me’ intro and outro –

Audio production – Mike Migas 

Scoring – Mike Migas and Andrew Joslyn



Logo and website design – Paulina Szymanska



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The map for this episode can be found here.



‘The mystery of the Freeway Phantom’ – Wilma Harper and Helen Collins, (1983)



Casefile interview with Patricia Williams





SE Groups, police, hunt missing girl, April 28, 1971

Body of SE girl, 14, found near Suitland Parkway, May 2, 1971

Girl’s body is identified, July 21, 1971

Girl’s deaths ead to protest in SE, July 22, 1971

District girl found slain on highway, July 29, 1971

Body of SE girl, 12, found in county, October 3, 1971

Gang rapes increase sharply in DC, October 13, 1971

Body of slain DC girl found, 6th since May, November 17, 1971

Victims life was changed by wrong type of people, November 17, 1971

Pubic help asked to solve murders, November 18, 1971

Callers try to help police solve slayings, November 19, 1971

Police get over 1000 calls in slaying, November 20, 1971

Sex assault of 6th victim confirmed, November 23, 1971

Mannequin built to aid slayer hunt, December 3, 1971

Reward total 9 thousand dollars in slayings of 6 girls, August 31, 1972

Body of SE girl found in area of 6 murders, September 7, 1972

Bus driver tells of seeing girl before she was slain, September 8, 1972

SE girl’s death linked to others, September 9, 1972

Suddenly, one of Diane’s four sisters wailed, September 13, 1972

DC police feel 2 involved in slaying of seven girls, September 21, 1972

Police plead for public’s help in search for freeway killer, October 14, 1972

$1000 added to reward for slayer, February 21, 1973

Landover man held in 2 rapes, February 24, 1973

Higher reward sought for freeway slayer, July 23, 1973

District’s biggest rape case begins, September 22, 1973

2 guilty in series of rapes, October 6, 1973

Green car rapist gets life in jail, December 19, 1973

The Freeway murders, police up against a stone wall, February 18, 1974

Freeway murders: The people affected, February 19, 1974

Judge orders silence on murder investigation, April 6, 1974

Hearing in slaying case set, April 8, 1974

Phantom suspects held again, April 23, 1974

Jury in DC indicts 2 in girl’s slaying, May 1, 1974

Prosecutor criticized in phantom slayings, June 6, 1974

Ex officer denies rile in killing, June 28, 1974

Ex officer guilty of killing, June 29, 1974

Most Simmons jurors sure he was not insane, July 1, 1974

2 ex policeman guilty of murder, July 26, 1974

Sex assault suspect is convicted, August 16, 1974

Ex policeman gets 20 years to life in slaying of DC girl, August 24, 1974

7 suspects probed in freeway deaths, August 30, 1974

Court orders slay suspects into lineup, October 24, 1974

3 accused in rape of 13, kidnapping, November 2, 1974

Tears, tussle erupt at police lineup, December 11, 1974

Rape-Kidnap case hits a snag, March 25, 1975

Vega case man acquitted, May 23, 1975

Gang linked to hundreds of rapes, July 19, 1975

Victims detail rape gang’s methods, July 13, 1975

Jailed rapist: I’m going through hell, July 13, 1975

Green vega figure sentenced for role in 1973 Md. slaying, July 18, 1975

Jailed rapist gets 1 case dismissed, July 31, 1975

Freeway phantom suspect admits tie under drug, October 16, 1975

Alleged murder witness won’t aid prosecutors, November 4, 1975

Obstacles fail to daunt detective, January 5, 1976

Suspect disrupts hearing, January 13, 1976

Vega rape conviction is upset, December 31, 1976

DC judge frees rape victim from testifying again, May 31, 1978

DC jury convicts man accused in green vega rapes, November 1, 1978

1978 conviction is overturned in green vega assault cases, October 10, 1981

Vega suspect changes story at trial, March 5, 1983

Green vega rapist convicted for third time, March 8, 1983

Ex policeman sentenced in check kiting scheme, December 16, 1983

Group comforts those united by tragedy, February 5, 1987

Freeway phantom slayings haunt police, families: 6 young DC females vanished in the 70’s, June 26, 2006



Six black girls were brutally murdered in the early 70’s. Why was this case never solved? – The Washington Post


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