Gordon and Karen Alexander were brutally murdered on April 7, 1981. For decades TAPD detectives have combed through the case files time and again searching for anything that could lead to the identity of a suspect and bring some resolution to the many lives impacted by this crime. Although 42 years have passed since the slaying, we have now identified a lone suspect in this heinous case.
The Alexander family resided at 501 Baden on College Hill in Texarkana, Arkansas at the time of the crime. Although the house no longer exists, it was there that Weldon Alexander called the police and
reported that he arrived home at around 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday, April 8, 1981, after working the night shift at Cooper Tire. Weldon reported that as he approached the porch, he noticed both the screen door and the wooden front door were ajar. Upon entering the house, Weldon Alexander claimed he found his
son deceased in the kitchen and he thought his daughter might still be alive on her bed near the living room area. Weldon told officers Terry Spearman and Bobby Thomason that he removed a kitchen knife from Karen’s body and laid it on a nearby bookshelf before officers arrived at 7:24 a.m. Officer Spearman confirmed Gordon Alexander to be deceased in the kitchen from apparent sharp instrument trauma and he noted that Karen Alexander, lying face up on a bed in the living room, was still breathing
but suffering from extensive sharp instrument trauma. Karen was transferred to St. Michael hospital where she later died from her injuries. Coincidentally, Vera Alexander, the children’s mother, had been previously admitted as a patient at Wadley Hospital when the double homicide occurred. She had been there since the previous weekend as a mental patient.
Detectives from the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department spent days, weeks, months, and years pouring through the evidence, identifying witnesses, and following up on every lead in the case. By
1983, Henry Lee Lucas had been arrested and jailed in Williamson County, Texas where he began confessing to hundreds of unsolved homicides across the country. Detectives from Texarkana traveled to Williamson County and returned with Lucas. During the interviews Lucas confessed to the Alexander homicides but no warrant was issued, and Lucas was not charged because there was not sufficient forensic, physical, or circumstantial evidence to prove his guilt. Decades later, DNA evidence proved that Lucas had lied in many of his confessions, including the Alexander case.
Calvin Seward, in his early 30’s at the time, had been on the Texarkana Arkansas police force for eight years when the Alexander homicides occurred and was working then as a patrolman. Following the murders, Calvin was assigned to the criminal investigation division to follow up on leads and locate
persons of interest in the case. Eventually, the leads ran out and the case went cold, but Officer Seward’s resolve to identify the killer remained.
In 1986, Officer Seward’s CID assignment ended when he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and returned to the patrol division as a patrol shift supervisor. Sergeant Seward later became Captain Seward before retiring from the police department in 2004, after nearly 32 years. Following his career at TAPD, Captain Seward worked 18 years with the U.S. Marshals and the Texarkana Airport Police.
Although in his second stint of retirement, Captain Calvin Seward had one last box to check and that was to give the Gordon and Karen Alexander case another look. In February of 2022, Captain Seward was given full autonomy to reopen the Alexander case and to pursue to its end any evidence or lead he developed. Over the course of the next 18 months, Captain Seward identified, interviewed, and re-interviewed dozens of people named in the original case and many of their associates. He submitted DNA profiles from many of these people to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and submitted or resubmitted dozens of articles of evidence and potential evidence to the State Crime Lab for processing.
Captain Seward enlisted the help of Dr. Todd Steffy, a well-known forensic criminologist with more than 30 years of experience in the field of forensic science. Together, they reviewed every aspect of the case and through consultation with Kelli Dixon, a DNA scientist at the Arkansas State Crime Lab, they determined that, given the recent advancements in DNA processing technology, resubmitting evidence last tested in 2012 might prove beneficial. Seward, Steffy, and Dixon began to reprocess essentially anything that could provide new leads. In 2022 DNA was extracted from both victim’s fingernail tissue to be used as known samples to be compared to questioned DNA located at the crime scene. A familial relationship in the DNA determined that Weldon Alexander’s semen was discovered on Karen Alexander’s bedding. With this information and a statement written by Detective Gary Stringer, a lead
investigator in the case in 1981, and one of the first detectives to arrive at the scene, they learned that Gordon Alexander’s body had been cold to the touch when police officers arrived at the scene.
These new pieces of evidence led the team to a theory that the children were assaulted before the father, Weldon Alexander, left for work around 11 p.m. the previous day. They knew that there was no sign of forced entry into the home and that Weldon Alexander was the last known person to see Gordon and Karen alive just before 11 p.m. the night before. Both children were still in the same clothes they had been wearing the previous day. Weldon had been the person to discover their bodies and the weapon used was considered a weapon of opportunity, a butter knife likely from the kitchen of the Alexander home. More pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. There was no foreign “outside intruder” DNA
evidence discovered throughout the investigation. The autopsy revealed that Karen Alexander had been vaginally penetrated 48 to 72 hours prior to her death. Trace evidence discovered in the dried blood on Gordon’s hands and Karen’s body contained fibers, brass, copper, and zinc, all of which were materials used in the construction of tires at Copper Tire and Rubber.
Based on the robust body of physical evidence, Captain Seward and Dr. Steffy prepared a Statement of Probable Cause Affidavit naming the father of the victims, Weldon Alexander, as a probable suspect in the case and presented this affidavit to the Miller County Prosecuting Attorney for review. After thorough review of the evidence presented to her, Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell asserts that Weldon Alexander is the sole, viable suspect in the murders of Gordon and Karen Alexander, and that she believes probable cause exists for the issuance of an arrest warrant for two counts of Capital Murder. Had Weldon Alexander not died in 2014, she would be requesting those
It is our hope that the friends and remaining family of Gordon and Karen Alexander may find some peace in knowing that scientific and circumstantial evidence has been revealed sufficient to resolve this 42-year-old case. We wish to express our greatest appreciation to the team of Retired Texarkana Arkansas Police Department Captain Calvin Seward, Dr. Todd Steffy of the Arkansas State Police Cold Case Unit, Kelly Dixon of the Arkansas State Crime Lab, and so many other detectives, police officers, concerned citizens and advocacy groups who provided information and assistance in this case.