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TV crew to interview Texarkana woman with connection to 1986 Jerry 'Animal' McFadden murder spree in East Texas

TV crew to interview Texarkana woman with connection to 1986 Jerry 'Animal' McFadden murder spree in East Texas

June 17th, 2019 by Lori Dunn in Texarkana News

In this Aug. 31, 1999, file photo, convicted murderer Jerry "Animal" McFadden, left, looks at his attorney Vernard Solomon, right, while Upshur County Sheriff R.D. "Buck" Cross, center, follows him out of the Upshur County Courtroom after his execution date was set in Gilmer, Texas.

Photo by Kevin Green/The News-Journal via AP file

A local woman connected to a 1986 case involving convicted murderer Jerry "The Animal" McFadden will soon be interviewed by TV's Investigation Discovery channel.

Staff from Juniper Entertainment will be in Texarkana one day this week to film an interview with Rosalie Williams-Turner for a yet-to-be-named series set to air next spring.

McFadden, convicted of killing three young people at Lake Hawkins in East Texas, was put to death by lethal injection in 1999. Lake Hawkins is less than two hours southwest of Texarkana and 35 minutes north of Tyler, Texas.

McFadden kidnapped Williams-Turner after escaping from the Upshur County jail in Gilmer, Texas.

"The incident that happened to me was 33 years ago. It was life-changing. But I'm so happy and blessed to still be alive and able to talk about it," said Williams-Turner, who now lives in Texarkana, Ark.

On July 9, 1986, Williams-Turner was working as a dispatcher and jailer at the Upshur County jail in Gilmer. McFadden was being held in isolation at the time, awaiting trial for the murders of three people at Lake Hawkins earlier that May.

Williams-Turner was working dispatch duties when then-Sheriff's Deputy Ken Mayfield let McFadden out to make a phone call.

McFadden hit the deputy over the head and kidnapped Williams-Turner.

He took Williams-Turner in her own car down a series of roads that eventually landed them in the Big Sandy, Texas, area. McFadden took Williams-Turner to an abandoned boxcar, where they stayed the night. She escaped the next morning and ran to a nearby house.

Williams-Turner was dehydrated but unharmed. McFadden was taken into custody after an extensive manhunt. He was executed by lethal injection in 1999.

Williams-Turner, who worked as a dispatcher for Texas Department of Communications for a number of years after moving to Texarkana, said she is surprised people are still interested in the crime from 1986. However, she said this show should be different because the families of the three young people who died are being interviewed for it also.

The Juniper Entertainment crew will conduct interviews in East Texas about the murders before driving to Texarkana to interview Williams-Turner on Wednesday, said field producer Emily Ottman.

"My heart still goes out to the families of those kids. I will be anxious to hear what they have to say," she said.

The ID channel show featuring Williams-Turner will air next spring, Ottman said. She said the show will have a serious tone and will focus on crimes in small Southern towns.

Since retiring from DPS, Williams-Turner has worked at Edgewood Nursing Home


New Developments

Earlier this year, McFadden was identified by DNA as the person who killed a young woman in Portland, Ore., nearly 40 years ago.

Anna Marie Hlavka, 20, was killed in an apartment on July 24, 1979. Authorities said Thursday her killer, Jerry McFadden, was identified using the same technology that led to an arrest last year in California in the "Golden State Killer" case.

Hlavka was sexually assaulted and strangled with an electric cord. The Portland Police Bureau said at a news conference retired detectives submitted evidence to the state crime lab in 2009 for forensic testing.

Authorities said that evidence eventually showed McFaddden was Hlavka's killer.

Portland police said an "unknown male DNA profile" was found in 2011 in evidence collected from the scene of the 1979 slaying. The profile was deemed especially good considering how much time had passed.

Last May detectives researched forensic genealogy using unidentified DNA profiles from homicides scenes, the technology used to bring about the May 2018 arrest of the suspect in the "Golden State Killer" case.

Scientists were able to map three of the four familial lines of the Portland killer and identified him as McFadden.

Detectives travelled to Texas to interview McFadden's relatives and obtain further DNA samples.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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