Overview of Brenda Woodard
Brenda Denise Woodard was 18 years old and had her entire life ahead of her. Brenda was taking night classes at Cardozo High School because she was looking to perfect her shorthand and typing skills. She had five siblings and had recently moved out three weeks before her death because she kept coming home late.
On November 15, 1971, Brenda attended night school with a friend. When class ended, Brenda and her classmate went to Ben’s Chilli Bowl for dinner. Brenda’s classmate typically gives her a ride home, but her car was in the shop which is why they took the bus. When they finish eating, Brenda and her friend catch a local bus. Brenda gets off at 8th and H Street and had to transfer on another bus to get home. This is the last time Brenda is seen. It remains unknown when Brenda was abducted– whether it was at the second bus stop or while walking home.
The next morning, Brenda’s body is discovered by a police officer doing a routine check. Brenda would be found strangled and sexually assaulted. She was stabbed multiple times. Authorities were able to determine that Brenda likely fought off her attacker because of the defense wounds that were discovered on her hands. Brenda Woodward’s body was found with a handwritten note signed by the Freeway Phantom that read:
This is tantamount to my insensitivity to people, especially women. I will admit the others when you catch me if you can! -Freeway Phantom
Police were able to determine that Brenda likely wrote the note herself.
Is Brenda Woodward a victim of the Freeway Phantom? Between April 1971 and September 1972, six young black girls were abducted and murdered. Their names are Carol Spinks (age 13, abducted on April 15, 1971), Darlenia Johnson (age 16, abducted on July 8, 1971), Brenda Crockett (age 10, abducted on July 27, 1971), Nenomoshia Yates (age 12, abducted on Oct. 1, 1971), Brenda Woodard (age 18, abducted on Nov. 15, 1971), and Diane Denise Williams (age 17, abducted on Sept. 5, 1972).
Each victim left their homes to run an errand and never returned home. Days later, their remains were found near the I-295 freeway. Unfortunately, each victim was sexually assaulted and strangled to death. All victims except Brenda Denise Woodard were found barefoot.
Where the case stands today: Currently, the Metropolitan Police Department are offering a $150,000 reward for anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest. In 2023, iHeartMedia and Tenderfoot TV created the “Freeway Phantom” podcast. The producers are doubling the reward bringing it to a total of $300,000.
The “Freeway Phantom” is the main suspect, but their identity remains a mystery. There have been some publicly named suspects, including the Green Vega Rapists, a gang responsible for multiple rapes and abductions throughout the Washington Beltway area. However, these cases remain unsolved.
If you have any information please contact the Metropolitan Police Department at (202) 727-9099 or [email protected].