Carla Walker Act: Cold case solved decades later with advanced technology leads to bill for more funding

A case that went unsolved for more than four decades was cracked just four years ago thanks to advanced DNA testing. Now, one lawmaker is pushing for more funding for agencies to access that technology. 

In 1974 in Fort Worth, 17-year-old Carla Walker was abducted from a bowling alley parking lot. She was assaulted and strangled, and her body was found three days later in a ditch.

Her brother, Jim Walker, was 12 at the time. 

"We had a wonderful life taken from us at the tender age of 17," he said.

The case went cold for decades. 

"Unfortunately, I had to bury my father and my mom without them ever finding resolution," Walker said.  "As a 12-year-old this affected me, and really for 45 years of my life, silent anger, rage, not knowing who did this."

That is, until forensic genetic genealogy DNA testing at a company called Othram led investigators to Glen McCurley, who ended up confessing decades after the crime.

"This technology, genetic genealogy, was the game changer," Walker said. "I cannot tell you how much of a difference it has made. It's given hope were there was no hope, and we're thankful for it."

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) will be introducing the Carla Walker Act in Congress. It's a bill that would help solve cold cases by creating federal funding for agencies to use the advanced technology. 

Cornyn recently toured the Othram lab in The Woodlands, outside of Houston.

The lab's founder says traditional DNA testing can only find suspects if their profile is already in a national database. The kind of testing Othram does can use really old DNA and draw exponentially more information from samples. 


However, many agencies can't afford the lab work. That's where the funding would come in; plus, it could bring down the wait time for answers.

"These suspects, they're aging. This is an opportunity for us with this funding to be able to solve these cases and not let these people die without these cases being solved," Jeff Bennett with the Fort Worth Police Department said. 

"The families are not around forever to hear the answers. The people responsible aren't around forever to face justice," David Mittelman, founder and CEO of Othram said.

Cornyn says he's confident the bill will pass.

"We want to make sure that law enforcement from the local level to the national level have access to the very latest and greatest technology," Cornyn said.

Walker says he hopes others will benefit from it.

"There's so many Carla Walker families, so many Carla Walkers out there that are quietly crying for justice, for resolution, for some answers," he said.