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Carpenter was last seen in Denton, Texas on June 1, 1948. She left her home in Texarkana, Texas and took a train to Denton, six hours away. She packed a brown steamer trunk, a matching makeup case and a black pasteboard hatbox. At the station she took a taxicab to Texas State College for Women (TSCW), now called Texas Women's University. She was planning to complete a summer term there. Carpenter had previously attended the University of Arkansas and studied journalism, but transferred to the TSCW because she'd decided to enter into a career in the sciences instead; she aspired to a career as laboratory technician. Carpenter first enrolled in the TSCW for the 1945 - 46 school year, then took a break from school to help her sick mother and save up money to pay for her education. She attended Texarkana Junior College for a time, then enrolled in the 1948 summer term at TSCW. She planned to begin training there as laboratory technician in the autumn, but disappeared just before the summer term began.
The cab driver, Edgar Ray "Jack" Zachary, later stated he stopped in front of Brackenridge Hall at 9:00 p.m. and Carpenter gave the driver a ticket for her trunk and paid him a dollar so he would fetch it for her from the train station the next day. After getting out of the cab, Carpenter approached two young men standing near a yellow or cream-colored convertible car, possibly a Pontiac. One of the men was tall and the other is described as "chunky." Carpenter appeared to know them and began to speak to them, and the cab driver drove away. She never checked into her dormitory, Brackenridge Hall, and has never been heard from again.
In the winter and spring of 1946, five young people were murdered in lovers' lanes in Carpenter's hometown of Texarkana. The crimes are believed to have all been committed by the same person. The murderer was never caught and became known as the Texarkana Phantom Killer. Carpenter was acquainted with three of the victims. Authorities investigated to see if there was a link between her disappearance and the Texarkana slayings, but they found no evidence to support this theory.
In 1998, authorities received a tip that two men had raped and killed Carpenter shortly after her disappearance and buried her body in a dam at a stock tank near the Texas Women's University campus. The suspects were both deceased by 1998 and were not publicly identified. Authorities searched the dam after receiving the information, but uncovered no evidence.
Numerous leads and possible sightings of Carpenter have surfaced throughout the decades since her disappearance, but no evidence has been uncovered and none of the accounts have been proven. Her father died prior to her disappearance and her mother died in 1980, and she has no siblings, but three of her cousins still hope to get answers in her case. Carpenter was declared legally dead in 1955. Her disappearance remains unsolved.
Denton County Sheriff's Office