Who Were Jerry Walter McFadden’s Victims? Is The Animal Dead or Alive?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Texas Massacre’ chronicles the case revolving around Jerry Walter McFadden, who became infamous as “The Animal” for massacring two girls and a boy in Texas in 1986. The killings, which left the state of Texas terrorized, were brutal and senseless. After his arrest, The Animal successfully spread fear and terror again when he escaped from prison with a hostage, leading to a manhunt of historic proportions. So now, if you’re curious to learn more about Jerry Walter McFadden’s victims and whether The Animal is dead or alive, you’ve come to the right place.

Who Were Jerry Walter McFadden’s Victims?

On May 4, 1986, Suzanne Harrison, 18, and Gena Turner, 20, decided to visit Lake Hawkins in Wood County, Texas. They had planned to meet up with their friend, Bryan Boone, 19, and take a small cruise around the water.  Friends or family never heard from them again. Neighbors later said they saw them with a fourth person, an older and largely unfamiliar man. This man was apparently serial rapist Jerry Walter McFadden.

Image Credit: Tyler Morning Telegraph

The next day, Suzanne Harrison’s body was found by a maintenance crew on Barnwell Mountain, about 30 miles from the lake. She was found to have been raped and sodomized before being strangled by her own underwear. The discovery of the gruesome rape and murder sent waves of panic across the state. Along with the police, the public also formed large search parties to search for Suzanne’s missing friends.

During one of these massive searches, a few days later, Gena and Bryan’s bodies were found near Ore City (the police would later learn that McFadden was living there at that time). Both their bodies had decomposed quite a bit by the time they were discovered, but they were determined to be shot dead (McFadden was never charged for the shootings).

McFadden was already a convicted serial rapist. According to prison officials, he was violent with women and found pleasure in stalking and overpowering them. In 1972, McFadden had pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old girl in Denton. A year later, he also pleaded guilty to the rape of a high-school teacher in Haskin. Then again, in 1978, he took an 18-year- old secretary hostage and was convicted of raping her.

Though convicted of these crimes, McFadden never served a complete sentence and always managed to get out on parole. During the 1986 murders, the state of Texas was reportedly reducing its prison populations to save money, free up space and avoid building new prisons. Thus, prisoners were granted excessive time off their sentences for good behavior. McFadden seemingly took advantage of this system to stay out of jail and continue his criminal activities.

Is The Animal Dead Or Alive?

Jerry Walter McFadden, aka The Animal, is dead. He was found guilty of and executed for the murder of Suzanne Harrison. Just two days after murdering Suzanne and her friends, McFadden was arrested from Wood County after witnesses came forward and claimed that they had seen one of the victims riding in McFadden’s truck on the evening of the murders. He was charged with the murder of Suzanne Harrison.

That, unfortunately, was not the end of the nightmare Texas was going through that summer. In a terrifying turn of events, McFadden, who was being held at the Upshur County jail, escaped right before his capital murder trial. He attacked Kenneth Mayfield, a guard, stole his weapon, and took another guard, Rosalie Williams, as a hostage before escaping prison.

McFadden held Rosalie in a railroad boxcar in Big Sandy as he desperately hid from the law. The next day, in a daring act of bravery, Rosalie managed to escape from the boxcar and rushed to a nearby house to beg for help. Once the police were informed about the place where the fugitive was hiding, they organized one of the biggest manhunts Texas had ever seen. Every road out of Big Sandy was blocked, and officers went from house to house searching for McFadden.

Two days after his escape from prison, a police team found him in an abandoned house in Collin County. McFadden was in a messy state and surrendered immediately. His case then quickly moved to trial, and the jury deliberated for just 35 minutes before sentencing McFadden to death. McFadden never testified during his trial.  On October 14, 1999, McFadden was executed by lethal injection for the murder of Suzanne Harrison.

In 2019, 20 years after McFadden’s execution, police were able to find closure for Anna Marie Hlavka’s death, who was murdered on July 24, 1979. Hlavka was sexually assaulted and strangled with an electric cord. Her murder went unsolved for almost two decades until police could use modern-day technology to test an unknown male’s DNA gathered from the crime scene. Through forensic genealogy testing, they were able to map three of the killer’s four familial lines. According to authorities, the evidence suggested that Jerry Walter McFadden also murdered Hlavka.

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