In 1911 and 1912, a killer that could be perfectly described as a homicidal maniac launched a campaign of slaughter in Louisiana and Texas . Before this serial slayer disappeared without a trace he would leave 49 corpses behind, each one viciously hacked to death with an ax while sleeping.
Just after the New Year in 1911 a mother and her three children were killed in their Rayne, Louisiana, home. In February in nearby Crowley a family of three were slaughtered in identical fashion. Four more were then slaughtered soon afterwards in Lafayette.
The murders shifted to San Antonio, Texas, where five members of the Cassaway family fell victim to the ax murderer. November brought the deaths of six more people back in Lafayette. The slayer struck in Crowley again in January of 1912 when another four were brutally dispatched. Just two days later at Lake Charles the five members of the Broussard family were slain. Their murderer left a message behind: "When He maketh the inquisition for blood, He forgetteth not the cry of the humble- human five."
On February 12 a woman and her three children were hacked to death in Beaumont, Texas. Next came the murders of a mother, her four children, and a male friend in Glidden, Texas. In April the five members of the Burton family were slain in San Antonio. Two nights later the serial slayings continued in Hempstead, Texas, with three more people dying at the business end of the killers ax.
The ax murderer finally missed his mark on August 6, 1912, when a San Antonio woman was only wounded in the arm before her attacker fled the scene. All the woman could tell police was that she was attacked by a man who was alone but she could not provide any sort of description. The failed homicide attempt apparently scared the serial slayer off. He never struck again.
Though police made several arrests while this killing spree was going on, a lack of any real evidence forced authorities to dismiss all suspects. Other than the fact that the murderer enjoyed hacking sleeping families to death with an ax authorities had almost no hard evidence to work with. There did seem to be some sort of racial signifigance in the selection of victims: every family evidently included mulatto members. A small religious sect also fell under suspicion but no direct link was ever established between tham and the ax killings.