More information about Carmen Melinda Croan came in after I posted her story as Case of the Month for July. A reader emailed me copies of old newspaper articles found on a library fiche. The following is based on those newspaper articles. Most came from the Odessa American, a Freedom Newspaper.
Suspected, indicted, and charged with Carmen’s murder was a man called Murray Galloway. He had been in the Ector County Jail since his arrest on October 12, 1981 for the kidnapping of Steven Compton. On December 21, Galloway was officially indicted and charged with Carmen’s murder. He had a history of mental illness. The charges against him were dismissed the next year but the background story is very interesting.
Carmen died a very violent death. She was one of three murders that weekend of August 23, 1981.
Carmen was found in an oil field. She had been stabbed and cut several times and possibly died were she was found. In the papers it said that she was stabbed with a large fixed-blade knife. Police had ruled out robbery (why?) but were in the dark as to the motive for her murder. Her car, a 1971 Ford Torino, was later found at Graham Central Station which was a popular disco at that time.
When Galloway was arrested for the kidnapping of Compton, police found a knife with a very long fixed blade. I hope it has been preserved well so it might be tested for Carmen’s DNA. I have not been able to find anything more about this knife.
Police did find more in the oil field. A set of bloodstained men’s clothing were found about 19 days after Carmen’s murder and about 2 miles from the crime scene. The clothes were an extra-large sports shirt and slacks. I wonder whether the blood matches Galloway. I have not been able to find anything about Carmen’s clothes.
During the trial against Galloway, the prosecution tried to introduce bite mark evidence. Dr. Richard Souviron and Dr. Homer Campbell, two experts, reviewed photographic materials taken three months after Carmen’s murder from her exhumed body. The exhumation had taken place on November 12, 1981.
Campbell thought that the marks on Croan matched the general pattern from Galloway’s teeth.
Souviron could not say for certain that there were any bite marks at all on Croan’s body. Judging photographic materials from a decaying three-month old body is tricky.
Then-DA Mike Holmes said in the papers that he felt that there must have been more people involved in Carmen’s murder.
There was a witness who could place Galloway in the same disco were Croan was the night of her murder and in the town but that does not prove murder at all. That witness later passed away so his testimony could not be used in court.
If anyone has any photographs from Carmen, please let me know.
UPDATE: after posting about Carmen here this news paper article appeared in the OA Online.