Monday, December 12, 2016
In the mid-1880s the growing city of Austin, Texas suddenly experienced a disturbing series of assaults and murders. The first victims were servant women who lived in small shacks behind their employers' homes. The first women attacked were black women but soon white immigrants were targeted also. Later two young married women were killed and their bodies left in their backyards. The attacks were brutal, usually involving ax blows to the head and knife slashes to the body. Some of the survivors suffered permanent disabilities and one ultimately lived in the state asylum because of brain damage. Various men, mostly black, were arrested for the crimes and subsequently released due to lack of evidence. A few husbands were suspected in the later murders but there was no conviction there either. The attacks stopped as suddenly as they began. Some speculated that similar killings in another Texas town meant the killer had moved on. Others theorized that the killer had gone to England and was perpetrating the Jack the Ripper killings which began shortly after the Austin killings ended. An afterword by the author detailed his research and the difficulty in finding information. The story is similar to the Erik Larsen's Devil in the White City but not as riveting a story.