In the early 1950’s, Goodwater, Arizona was the proverbial wide spot
in the road. Located on Route 66 in eastern Arizona, there was little more in Goodwater than a service station and small cafe. It didn’t even warrant mention in A Guide Book to Highway 66 penned by Jack Rittenhouse in 1946. Obscurity was erased in December 1953 when a brutal murder put this diminutive community on the front pages of newspapers throughout the country.
In appearance there was nothing to indicate that Carl J. Folk was a monster. His arrest record, however, gave clues to the darkness that he harbored in his soul. In DeKalb, Indiana, in 1930, he was arrested after car jacking a young couple, and attempting to rape the woman at gun point. In July of 1949, in Albuquerque, he was arrested for rape and “contributory delinquency.” In between the two arrests were a string of incidents, none of which resulted in conviction, for stalking, peeping in windows, and accusations of public exposure. For the 1949 incident he was committed to the New Mexico State Insane Asylum in Las Vegas. Unfortunately for Betty Faye and Raymond Bruce Allen, he was released in February 1950.
According to the testimony of Raymond Allen, the couple traveling with their ten month old son from Pennsylvania to California first encountered Folk at Cline’s Corners in New Mexico. Investigators later determined that Folk then began stalking the family. He would pass them on the highway, stop at a cafe and wait until then drove by, and then repeat the process. Sometimes he would back track to catch them. On the evening of the murder at Goodwater, Folk had stopped at Young’s store in Chambers, Arizona, and at a gas station in Navajo.
After spotting the Allen’s truck and trailer at Goodwater, he drove ahead a short distance, found a ranch road, parked his car and waited in the darkness. The Allen’s had stopped for gas and dinner, and driven a mile or so west where they found a place to park for the night. The location chosen was in site of Folk’s hideaway. Sometime around midnight on December 1, Folk surprised the Allen’s, and announced that his intent was robbery. He tied them ankles to wrist from behind, and then drove the truck with trailer to where his car was parked. After dragging Raymond from the trailer, he methodically set about raping and torturing Betty Faye.
Early the next morning, sometime around 6:30, Raymond freed his feet and staggered to the highway where he was able to flag down a truck driver. Even though his hands were swollen from being tied all through the night, he returned to his truck, recovered a gun from under the seat, and when Folk stepped from the trailer, fired six times striking Folk in the chest.
Folk would recover from his wounds and be executed by the State of Arizona. Betty Faye had died from strangulation. The child was unharmed but there is little doubt that he and Raymond were forever haunted by the nightmare at Goodwater.
The current book project has taken me into some very dark places on the Main Street of America. From traffic accidents to serial killers, from gangsters to natural disasters, this has been an endeavor that will never be forgotten.