It was around this date in October, fifty three years ago that Linda Cougat disappeared from a laundromat in Odessa.  The 24-year-old barmaid was at a west side laundry on October 19th, 1968.

Screenshot from of Linda Cougat
Screenshot from of Linda Cougat

Linda’s body was found in an empty pasture 15 miles northwest of Odessa. The search for the missing woman was ramped up when her handbag was found not far from the pasture her body would eventually be discovered in.  She had been dead, according to the medical examiners findings, for at least eight weeks.  An autopsy revealed that she had died by strangulation.  Her arms were bound behind her with two nylon stockings with a third stocking bound tightly around her neck.

Odessa lawmen had been searching desperately for the missing mother of one, walking through miles of pasture and drainage ditches, scouring empty lots and diligently continuing the investigation into what happened to the pretty dark haired bartender who went missing while doing laundry during the most wonderful time of the year (ok, maybe it’s just the most wonderful time of the year for me).

On Monday December 16th, 1968 a large handbag was found.  Inside the bag were three address books.  Law enforcement officials pour over the address books and determine the bag belongs to Linda Cougat. Linda had been tending bar at Bowler Bar, 1610 West 10th in Odessa at the time she went missing.  All of her co-workers and acquaintances had been questioned over and over again about any and everything they knew about Linda and what might have led to her disappearance.

During the course of the investigation a bloodstained miniskirt was found in Mrs. Cougats’ Westside home.  There were reports that she had been wearing the skirt a short time before her disappearance.  Linda was found wearing Bermuda shorts and a blouse but her panties were removed and stuffed inside her shorts so one of the theories that law enforcement officials came up with was that it was possible Cougat was made to remove her clothes and was raped and then was made to redress before being kidnapped and taken out to the desolate field she was strangled and left in.

From 1968 to July of 1971 the women of Ector county and surrounding areas were in constant fear.  Linda Cougat may or may not have been one of the first victims that would go on to be apart of what would be called the “Odessa Lust Murders”, and one of many victims of a heartless serial killer.

In the next few days leading up to Halloween we’re going to sort through the list of women who went missing and were found murdered at the hands of a West Texas serial killer.

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