Dan Carney grew up in Highland Park but had moved away for many years — for college, a stint in the Peace Corps, and his first newspaper job in North Carolina — when he got a jarring phone call from his father early one Saturday morning in 1987.
He learned that his brother Paul had been brutally stabbed late one night while walking from a bus stop to where he worked, a halfway house for prison parolees in East Dallas. At the intersection of Bryan Street and Fitzhugh Avenue, someone had taken what must have been an ice pick to Paul’s face and head over and over. There was severe brain damage. Two of the wounds reached all the way to his brain stem. He fell into a coma, kept alive by machines in the Baylor intensive care unit, and died a couple weeks later.
No suspect could be found. No motive could be established. Paul Carney’s death seems the definition of a senseless killing. But Dan Carney was a reporter, wounded by the loss of his brother, and so he was drawn to discover whatever he could about his brother’s life, to try to make any sense that he might of this crime.
I hope I never have to report on anything as personal and painful as the story Dan Carney wrote for the August 1988 issue of D Magazine, which we’re recognizing today as one of our 40 greatest.
Carney is now an editorial writer for USA Today. I reached out to him and asked for any thoughts he might share about this story, 27 years after his brother was attacked on February 27, 1987. Here’s what he had to say:Full Story