We all know the story of Jack the Ripper and have heard tales of the Zodiac Killer, but there are other sinister beings out there that have committed atrocious crimes and have gotten away with it. In this installment, we are going to focus on some of the less talked about unsolved murder sprees.
The Axeman of New Orleans
Anyone that watched the third season of American Horror Story knows about the Axeman of New Orleans, though of course the show took several liberties with the story. One constant between fiction and reality was the killer’s love for using an axe to kill his victims. The Axeman was wanted in 12 attacks, but only 8 of those victims succumbed to the killer’s brutal methods. Victims were typically bludgeoned with the axe, struck somewhere in the head. Those not killed by the swing of an axe had their throats slit by a straight razor. On March 13th, 1919 the Axeman scribed a demented letter threatening his wrath to those that did not play jazz music. He claimed himself to be a spirit and a demon from the depths of hell.
Servant Girl Annihilator
For the span of almost exactly one year, starting in December of 1884, the city of Austin, Texas was the site of the murder of 7 servant girls. The Servant Girl Annihilator would break into homes and attack the girls while they slept. Rather than kill them in their beds, though, the killer forced them outside, mutilated them, and posed them all in a similar way. There were over four hundred arrests made in the murders, but the killer was never officially caught. Popular theory rests on a 19 year-old cook, Nathan Elgin, who worked close to the original crime scene and had a clubbed foot that matched a footprint thought to have been left behind by the killer. Elgin would never stand trial or be arrested for the murders, as, in 1886, he was gunned down while attempting to assault a girl.
The Monster of Florence
Florence is a gorgeous province in Italy, but from 1968 to 1985, it was the home to a dreadful spree of 16 murders. The murderer typically targeted couples, using a combination of a firearm and a knife to off his victims. Several of the female victims’ bodies were mutilated, their pubic areas completely removed. A slew of people were all separately arrested and charged for the murders, but each conviction was eventually overturned, sometimes because the killer struck while they were behind bars. In September of 1985, the killings suddenly stopped despite the killer going so far as sending a portion of the last victim to the state prosecutor, Silvia della Monica, taunting her to find the body.
Capital City Murders
Eight young women attending the University of Wisconsin saw their lives cut brutally short with a murder spree that struck the small town of Madison, Winsconsin. Between 1968 and 1984, these women all suffered different ends, from stabbing, to blunt force trauma. There is little connecting the murders, save for location, and there is some speculation that the killings were all incidents done by different individuals. Henry Lee Lucas, an already known convicted murderer, had confessed to the crimes, but local law enforcement saw no connections between Lucas’ murders and the University of Wisconsin deaths.
The Frankford Slashe
In May of 1990, Leonard Christopher was apprehended for the murder of 46 year-old Carol Dowd, but that still leaves 8 victims to account for in the Frankfort Slasher’s murder spree. Beyond Christopher, no other suspect had been pegged for the murders of 9 Pennsylvanian women. Though the local fish market employee was arrested for one murder, the prosecution was unable to link him to the other victims, especially the one that occurred while he was imprisoned.
Jack the Stripper
Between 1964 and 1965, London was plagued with a series of six to eight murders. The play on words stems from the similarity between this case of murders and the 19th century Jack the Ripper spree. Several suspects were named, though nobody was brought in and arrested for charges and, like Jack the Ripper, the killings ceased on the killers own accord. Among Scotland Yard’s most notable suspects was a Scottish security guard, Mungo Ireland, when specks of paint were traced back to the estate that he guarded. Ireland killed himself before the investigation could go any further, but his placement in Scotland during one of the primary victim’s murders would eventually clear his name.
Texarkana Moonlight Murders
In the spring of 1964, a phantom emerged in Texarkana, killing five and attacking eight. The attacks caused the city to institute a curfew, locking down entirely at dusk while armed patrols navigated the streets. Across the five murders, roughly 400 suspects were arrested, none of whom were ever convicted for the killings. Victims of the Phantom’s first attack described him as a six-foot tall figure wearing a white mask. The Phantom was known for seeking out young couples, attacking them with a .32 caliber weapon.
Cleveland Torso Murderer
Twelve hapless victims fell into the hands of what became appropriately known as the Cleveland Torso Murderer. From 1935 to 1938, police in the Cleveland, Ohio area saw a string of gruesome murders, where the killer beheaded and dismembered their victims, cutting the torso in half on certain occasions. While some killers dismember the body posthumous, the cause of death for some of the twelve was decapitation. Cleveland law enforcement had their eyes on a World War I doctor, Dr. Francis E. Sweeney, and a Cleveland resident, Frank Doleful. Both died without either being officially pegged to the murders.
If you ever find yourself in a taxi cab with a well-dressed individual that quotes scriptures from the Bible, it may be time to take another cab. According to the sister of murder victim Helen Puttock, at least, that was the M.O. of a 1968 killer. Named Bible John, after the name he had given his victims and his love for the bible, this killer was responsible for the deaths of three girls, all of whom he had originally met at the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow, Scotland. The prime suspect in this case was Peter Tobin, a man convicted in 2007 for the murder of Angelika Kluk. Parallels between the two killings lead law enforcement to form a strong link between the two cases, but a lack of DNA evidence and witness testimonies kept the two completely separate, potentially leaving Bible John to roam a free man.
The Long Island Ripper
The stretch of Long Island, New York, just east of Manhattan, may not be known by all, which could be why the tale of the Long Island Ripper is widely unknown. It all started in December of 2010 when the grisly remains of four victims were found along Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach. Over the course of three years, bodies have popped up along Long Island in the relatively same vicinity. Of the 10 victims thought to be linked to the Ripper, five were identified as prostitutes, identified via escort ads on Craigslist. Despite several leads on the case, local law enforcement have not been able to peg the killer.