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  • The US serial killers you've never heard of: Henry Lee Moore, 25 murders from 1911

  • to 1912, across Iowa, Kansa, Illinois, and Colorado.

  • Then there is the unsolved Jack the Ripper style-murders in Atlanta during the same period.

  • From May 20 to July 1, 1911, he killed one person almost at the same time every Saturday

  • night.

  • But the killer that really stands out from the past is the axe murderer, who killed dozens

  • of people in Texas and Louisiana from January 1911 to April 1912.

  • This gruesome story is the stuff of horror movies.

  • In terms of American serial killers, you could call him the worst of the worst before serial

  • killers were ever actually discussed in everyday society.

  • In 1911, this killer entered a house in Rayne, Louisiana, and he left four family members

  • dead.

  • The murder weapon was an axe, although he used the dull side of it when he stuck his

  • victims.

  • Not long after, just 10 miles away in the small town of Crowley, he walked into the

  • Byers family home and killed three people much the same way.

  • Two weeks after that, he headed over to the city of Lafayette in Louisiana.

  • He opened the door to a family home and went on a bloody rampage, killing all four family

  • members.

  • He decided to go to Texas next, where a couple of months later, he killed a family of five

  • in their home.

  • Six months later, he was back in Lafayette.

  • Again, he skulked around a family home at night, waiting for the right time to pounce.

  • He entered the home and struck his axe with furious anger against six people who before

  • that had never dreamed such a monster could exist.

  • He didn't wait long for his next bloodbath.

  • He killed a family of five in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

  • He left a note after that one, “When he maketh the inquisition for blood, he forgetteth

  • not the cry of the humblehuman five.”

  • This maniac killed 49 people in all.

  • What's even more shocking is he committed so many murders in such a short period.

  • If that happened today, there wouldn't be a person in the world who owned a smartphone

  • or TV that didn't hear about it.

  • Back then, hardly anyone knew about the axe murderer, the killer of innocent families.

  • We're pretty sure you've never heard of him, so now it's time to investigate some

  • more.

  • There has been a fairly recent book written about this killer, called, “Axes of Evil:

  • The True Story of the Ax-Man Murders.”

  • The book is correct in saying that those murders are still today the worst instance of serial

  • killing in the US for which no one has been found guilty.

  • Here's the blurb from the book, “It's a tale of ritual murder, voodoo mayhem, and

  • wholesale killings that leads the reader on a shocking train ride across two states and

  • into the chapters of a real American horror story.

  • The fiendish slayings of 10 sleeping families nestled in their beds.”

  • That's no exaggeration, and it's not an exaggeration to say the unsolved crime is

  • comparable to the crimes of one serial you all know, Jack the Ripper.

  • In fact, what the Ripper did was nothing compared to what the axe murderer did in terms of the

  • body count, but how he got away with it is just as confounding.

  • As for why you've never heard of these murders, they just didn't fall on enough editors'

  • desks.

  • According to Vronsky, the small Texas and Louisiana towns where the murders took place

  • were kind of outbacks back then, while London during the time of Jack the Ripper was the

  • center of the world, especially when it came to the newspaper industry.

  • First of all, why so many axe murders and not so many knife or gun murders?

  • The simple answer is axes were used a lot back in those days.

  • They were just the weapon of choice for a lot of people, since they were always close

  • by.

  • As the Smithsonian Magazine points out, “Almost every family in rural districts owned such

  • an implement, and often left it lying in their yard.”

  • The same article said that most axe murder victims were killed in their beds.

  • Axes aren't so useful when a person can see what's coming, but they're ideal when

  • the victim is stationary.

  • Some people called this span of crimes theMulatto Axe Murdersbecause the victims

  • were usually mixed race.

  • The scant reports we can find said the first murders in Louisiana all happened when the

  • families were fast asleep, usually in the early morning hours.

  • The first slaying in Texas happened on March 22, 1911, in the city of San Antonio.

  • The victims were the entire Cassaway family, who lived in a house on Olive Street.

  • The father of the family was Louis, an African-American man who worked at the Grant School.

  • When he didn't show up for work that day, someone went around to his house to see why.

  • That's when all five family members were found.

  • In one room, police found Louis and his daughter.

  • In another room was everyone else, including his wife, who, according to reports, was white.

  • She was reportedly in the worst state when police discovered the awful scene.

  • This has led some people to believe the killer not only held some racist belief that black

  • and white people shouldn't have families together, but he mainly blamed the women of

  • mixed-race families.

  • There was certainly a motive there which pointed to intense hatred.

  • The killer stole nothing from the house, even though he could have.

  • According to one writer, “Nothing in the house was disturbed, and Louis' trousers

  • were still hanging from the bedpost with several dollars in the pocket.”

  • The same author said the family had no known enemies in the town and got along with everyone.

  • The killer then returned to Louisiana, where he killed all six members of the Norbert Randall

  • family.

  • As he'd done in the past, he used the blunt side of the axe rather than the sharp side,

  • hitting his victims with such force that they died from head injuries.

  • Yet again, the father of the family was an African-American, and the mother was white.

  • Someone was actually arrested for this.

  • That's something we want to come back to later.

  • While this person was in custody, more murders took place, and again, they involved mixed-race

  • families.

  • They also involved an axe, so it was hard not to connect the murders with the previous

  • ones.

  • For instance, in Crowley, the killer used an axe to kill a white woman and her three

  • mixed-race offspring.

  • Crowley's Daily Signal newspaper wrote this on Jan. 22, 1912.

  • In every Negro house in Crowley, lights are kept burning all night and adult family

  • members remain awake during the night.”

  • The same newspaper wrote, “Many believe that religious mania is responsible for the

  • killings.

  • Negro servants in Crowley are in a panic.

  • The more superstitious believe that some supernatural agency is at work.”

  • Just so you know, we are aware this word can be construed as offensive and anachronistic,

  • but using the actual language that was written serves a purpose here.

  • The family that was killed in Lake Charles was also of mixed race.

  • They were the Felix Broussard family, whose address was 331 Rock St. in North Lake Charles.

  • They lived in a small house close to the Southern Pacific Line.

  • This was one murder with a clue because, as you know, the murderer left that note behind.

  • When He maketh the inquisition for blood, He forgetteth not the cry of the humble.”

  • It comes from the bible, Psalm 9:12.

  • The New King James version goes like this, “When He avenges blood, He remembers them;

  • He does not forget the cry of the humble.”

  • Next to the note were the wordsHumanand “5.”

  • There were also the words, “Pearl ArtorOrt”, which were written below everything

  • else.

  • People actually started talking about some crazy cult that called itself theHuman

  • 5”.

  • According to Christian scholars, this part of the bible means people should not pursue

  • revenge themselves but let the Lord settle all scores on behalf of the humble.

  • What's also strange is that the victim decorated the fingers of all the younger victims.

  • He used paper tied with a pin and put each piece between the victim's fingers.

  • The killer had also placed a bucket below the bodies to catch the dripping blood, which

  • was another reason local people thought they had a killer cult on their hands.

  • In February 1912, the killer struck again, this time in Beaumont, Texas.

  • He killed a mixed-race woman and her three offspring.

  • Just over a month later, he killed a woman and her four kids as well as a man who was

  • staying over at her house.

  • The police had previously tried to link the murders with religious fanaticism, and of

  • course noted the fact many of the victims were of mixed race or were all African-American.

  • One news report we found said this about the killer in its conclusion:

  • In all probability they have been perpetuated by the same person who no doubt is insane,

  • or affected with some fiendish mania against the negro race.”

  • Police now understood that most of the murders took place close to the Southern Pacific Railroad

  • line, so they came to the conclusion that the killer rode the train, got off, killed,

  • and got back on.

  • Hopping trains back in those days wasn't anything out of the ordinary.

  • At this time, they were thinking there was only one killer, but the possibility of there

  • being more than one didn't escape their minds.

  • There were some other clues, too, which many decades in the future would have stirred the

  • minds of criminal profilers.

  • In the first Lafayette murders, the bodies had been what profilers callposed.”

  • All the victims had been placed on their knees as if praying.

  • The killer had put the wife's arm over her husband's shoulder, and the younger family

  • members were in front of them.

  • The sheriff at the time, Mr. LaCoste, first believed the murders could have been the work

  • of an escaped lunatic.

  • That guy was arrested but soon released and returned to the asylum.

  • The sheriff said he had several people he wanted to speak with, but so far, things didn't

  • look good.

  • A story in the Lafayette Advertiser said since so many murders were looking like the same

  • person had done them, a “terrible monsterwas on the loose.

  • Later in 1912, the killer struck twice in Texas.

  • First, he killed William Burton and four members of his family while they were asleep in their

  • San Antonio home.

  • Just two nights later, the killer struck in Hempstead, Texas, killing three family members.

  • African-Americans and mixed-race families were understandably panic-stricken.

  • People took to arming themselves and staying up all night long.

  • Neighbors took turns guarding each other's homes.

  • A man named Ernest Smothers was guarding his home one night when he heard a noise at the

  • door.

  • He shot a man dead; only that man was a well-meaning neighbor who'd just come to check on him.

  • After Smothers shot the man, a guy named Max Warren went to see what had happened.

  • When he saw the body of a dead man lying on the floor, he ran away.

  • As he was running, someone shouted that he was the axeman.

  • Warren was shot after that by another person who was close by.

  • We can't find the original news report describing this neighborly chaos, although podcasts and

  • blogs have talked about it.

  • The craziness does ring true when you look at one news story from back then.

  • We found an article in the Lafayette Advertiser dated August 20, 1912.

  • The headline reads, “Ax Man Again.”

  • The first paragraph reads: “The dreaded axe man who it is believed

  • is implicated in the murder of over forty negroes in Louisiana and Texas has been foiled

  • at last, but not caught.”

  • The article explains that the killer went to a house owned by a man named James Dashiell,

  • described in the story asmulatto.”

  • It says the killer had tried once before to kill this man and his family but had not succeeded.

  • On his second attempt, he crept into the house through the kitchen window.

  • He saw Mrs. Dashiell asleep and struck her with his axe, missing her head but almost

  • severing her arm.

  • She screamed and kicked out, only to be struck again on the leg.

  • Her screams woke up her husband, who armed and ready fired on the person.

  • The story goes on to say, “Two families of five each, nearly white, have been murdered

  • with axes in the last eighteen months.”

  • Since the murders were similar to others farther afield, the newspaper said they might be connected

  • to a roving gang.

  • The story ended by saying: “Negroes here are greatly aroused and many

  • are purchasing pistols and guns and it is said that night vigils will be kept.”

  • It seems this last attack was the axeman's last.

  • Like his other murders, it left police scratching their heads.

  • It left the public, especially African-American and mixed-race families, fearing for their

  • lives and living in a climate of constant fear.

  • We told you the police had a suspect for one of the attacks previously.

  • It wasn't actually a he, but a she.

  • Her name was Clementine Bernabet.

  • She was just 19-years old.

  • She was the daughter of Raymond Barnabet, who himself had been accused of being the

  • killer.

  • He was arrested and let go and then re-arrested for the killing of the Randall family, although

  • the evidence against him was not very substantial.

  • His daughter, Clementine, had told police her father was the killer.

  • Her brother had said the same.

  • Still, while Raymond was in jail, the murders kept happening.

  • When the other Lafayette family were murdered, it obviously couldn't have been him.

  • Then suspicion fell on Clementine, who lived just a few blocks away from where the murders

  • had taken place.

  • Police also found blood and parts of brain on her clothes.

  • Dr. Metz in New Orleans said the body matter matched that of the murdered family, but back

  • then, it was hard to say that conclusively.

  • In one news report it just says the doctor said the blood was not menstrual.

  • During questioning, Clementine admitted to killing that family.

  • She said the murders were to show her devotion to the high priestess of the Church of the

  • Sacrifice.

  • She, like others in this church, apparently believed that human sacrifice could bring

  • riches and even immortality.

  • Clementine also said the high priestess had given her someconjure bags”, kind of

  • good luck charms that would help her get away with murder.

  • She also said this in her statement to the police, “One of the gang was instructed

  • to go to New Iberia and interview the hoodoo man, who said we were safe in any and all

  • actions which we might do.

  • Our lives would at all times be fully protected by the power of the hoodoos.”

  • It all sounds very strange and gruesome, but could a young woman have done all those murders

  • by herself?

  • Human Rights Watch has written about the axe murders, and it believes that indeed the same

  • person or people were responsible for the 49 murders comprising various families.

  • Clementine was arrested, as were Edwin Charles and Gregory Porter, two men that had been

  • with her on the night of the last Lafayette murders.

  • But then a guy named King Harris was also arrested.

  • He was said to be the leader of the Church of Sacrifice, which had members in Crowley

  • and Lafayette, and Lake Charles.

  • After his arrest, police found this passage underlined in his bible:

  • And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth

  • not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matthew 3:10).”

  • Here's what one newspaper story wrote about him, “It is known that on the night of the

  • murder this Harris held a meeting in a house about one half block from the Randall home