An apartment fire is a cover for an unsolved murder.
A police sketch of the suspect
On March 26, 2000, the Lufkin, Texas Fire Department arrived at the scene of an apartment fire. As firefighters extinguished the blaze, they discovered a chilling scene. Tied to the posts of the bed was the charred body of a woman. Lieutenant David Young was immediately called in to investigate:
“She had been suffocated with a plastic bag and her throat had been cut very deeply, two different cuts, one on each side. And then the bed had been set afire. This crime was absolutely the meanest thing I’ve ever seen one person do to another.”
He’s not a suspect, but may have clues
Dental records identified the victim as Megan Curl, a 26-year-old woman who had been a Lufkin resident for five years. In the first grade, Megan had been diagnosed with mild retardation, requiring that she attend special education classes. According to her mother, Sherry McClung, Megan’s life was never easy:
“She wasn’t always accepted. People would make fun of her, put her down. And she’d always come back with a kind word for them.”
When Megan was in high school, her family settled in Lufkin, 175 miles southeast of Dallas. When she was 18, Megan got married and moved to Arkansas with her new husband, but the marriage was abusive and the two separated. According to Sherry McClung, Megan returned to Lufkin and insisted on getting her own apartment:
“Because Megan was so trusting and was so outgoing, she tended to be an easy target for some of these men. Men absolutely could tell that Megan wanted to please, that Megan wanted somebody to care for her, and that she was lonely. And I think that that is a part of what happened here.”
On the night of her murder, Megan went to a local nightclub. According to Lieutenant Young, it was there that she was seen talking to a man:
“That man did buy her one or two drinks. No one at the club knew who this man was, and no one reported ever seeing him there before or since. She went to another club, called the Sports Shack, just a little ways down the road from the Electric Cowboy club. She talked to some people there and caught a ride with an employee of the Sports Shack home.”
Flames ripped through Megan’s apartment
Megan arrived home just after 1:30 AM. A close friend who lived in the same apartment complex waited up for Megan to hear the details of her night out. Megan’s friend requested that her identity not be revealed:
“Well we were standing out there talking and all of a sudden, there’s this guy in his car, and he was speeding really fast, and he just did a dead stop. I went back into the apartment. And then when I went back out, the car was still there, but neither one of them was there. They were gone.”
Her friend was concerned and went up to Megan’s apartment to check on her. When Megan answered the door, the friend noticed that the driver from earlier was with Megan:
“She said, ‘I was right. It was my friend from the club.’ And I looked down to him, and he just nodded his head slowly and didn’t say a word. And I didn’t speak to him at all, either. I said, ‘Well, are you sure you’re ok?’ And she said, ‘Yes, I’m fine.’”
Megan’s neighbor was worried
It was the last time she would see Megan alive. According to Lieutenant Young, Megan’s body was found with the remnants of a nightgown on:
“Most of it had burned off. In interviewing men from her past, we learned that her normal sleeping attire would be something along the lines of shorts and a t-shirt. But if she were going to be romantically involved, she would sometimes wear a negligee or a nightgown. We feel, because of that, she knew this person and was preparing for an intimate evening with him.”
For Megan’s mother, the very thought that her daughter was killed by someone she trusted only added to her grief:
“I believe that Megan knew who the murderer was because she got in the car with this person. Megan would have gotten in the car with a person that she knew. There was not a forced entry.”
Investigators questioned several men with whom Megan Curl was known to have had relationships. However, each man was able to account for his whereabouts on the night of the murder. Police consider the unidentified man in Megan’s apartment as the prime suspect in her murder. The man is white, with blond hair and a light mustache. On the night of her murder, he wore gold-rimmed glasses.
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season twelve with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.
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