The Louisiana and Texas Axe Murders (1909-1912)

  • In January 1911 in Rayne, Louisiana a mother and her four children were hacked to death by an unknown killer as they slept.
  • In February in Crowley the Byers family was killed.
  • A few weeks later, in nearby Lafayette, LA the five members of the Andrus family were killed,
  • In April, five member of the Cassaway family were killed.
  • On Nov. 26, 1911 the 5 membes of the Norbett Randall family were similarily killed as they slept.
  • On Jan. 19, 1912, five members of the Warner family in Crowley were attacked and killed
  • On Jan. 21, at Lake Charles the 5 members of the Felix Broussard family were killed
  • The 6 members of the Wexford family were slaughtered.
  • Feb. 91, 1912, Beaumont more death in the Dove home.
  • March 27, more death in Glidden, Texas
  • April 11, 1912 in San Antonio, the five members of the William Burton family were killed
  • April 13, 1912 three were killed in a Hempstead, Texas home.
  • Aug. 6, 1912 the final murders occur in San Antonio.

After that, no more deaths in the region. Michael Newton in his Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes, notes the interesting fact that some 20 black women were killed in Atlanta, Georgia during this same time period. The killer there was labeled "Jack the Ripper." (pg. 263-264).

The New York Times in March 1912 indicated there was great fear in the black communities of the region, worried over the impact on grain crops (so compassionate), discussed the possibility of a "Sacrifice Cult" and then spent some time exploring the belief that a cult had not been the initial cause of the killings but was a factor now. ("Negro TerrorMay Shorten Rice Crops", New York Times, March 2, 1912, pg. 7). The ignorance of Voodoo, Hoodoo and alternate religious customs added to the problem. The crimes were not viewed as seriously as they might and were clearly only a danger to one segment of the population ("Religious Crank Killing Negroes," Oklahoman, Feb.20, 1912, pg. 1). In Februrary, in Beaumont, Texas Ethel Dove, her son Ernest, daughter Haitie, and daughter Jessie Quick were killed.

The killer next struck in San Antonio and for the last time in the region of Hempstead, Texas.
Some have attempted to make this part of a racial attack on Louisiana and Texas blacks. The truth may be it is simply part of a larger pattern of assaults on families through the country in the 1901 - 1930 time period. Numerous families, mothers, fathers, and young children, were brutally assaulted in Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, W. Virginia, and California. It may be that once more investigation occurs other yet to be discoverd events in numerous areas may provide even more links between all of these early crimes.
In almost every case found the target appeared to be the mother figure and the assaults on the woman the most severe.


Anonymous said...

austin tx axe murderer 1885,never caught,the tx and la. axe muderer 1912 never caught,the new orleans 1918 axe murderer never caught,all happened within a 30 yr period all happened within a few hundred miles???

Anonymous said...

ran across this as I was looking for other information. There were a series similar murders from 1921 to 1923 in central Texas, including one in Waco. Someone was arrested, tried, convicted and executed for that crime. Cannot remember his name but he was the last state execution by hanging before the switch to electric chair in Texas in 1923.

Unknown said...

I am told there will be a book on this coming out, probably in 2013. I look forward to it. The murders in Rayne, La. were of Edna Opelousas and her three daughters. The first murder in Crowley was Walter J. Bryers, his wife and child. In Layfayetted, Alexander Adnrus. In March in San Antonio, Louis Cassaway, his wife, a six month old baby, Louise, 3, and Josie, six years old. In Lafayette, Norbert Randall, his wife and four children, in Jan '12 in Crowley, Marie Warner and three children. In Lack Charles, Felix Broussard, Matilde his wife, Margaret, Lewis and Albertine, his children. In Beaumont, Hattie Dove, her son Ernest and daughters Ethel and Mrs. Jeff Burke, in Glidden, Ellen Monroe, her border Lyle Funacune and her four children. In April in San Antonio, William Burton, his wife Carried, Leona 3, Sonny 1, and Leon Evers, a brother in law. And in Philadelphia Miss, in November 1912, William Wamsley, his wife Sallie and a one year old child. There was substantial speculation at thet ime that the Hempstead Texas murders were unrelated. There was a suspect, too, in the Glidden murders. I have seen no mention of the Philadelphia murders elsewhere, but you can find newspaper accounts by Googling.

Margeededum said...

there were also murders similar to this in Virginia MN in 1917 the killer(s) were never caught. Same as the murders in Villisca Iowa, murder never caught.Wonder if it could all be connected.

Anonymous said...

My great grandpa lived in the old town of fal Louisiana on the Texas border in the early 1900s and they had a family killed by an axe Murderer and they never found out who it was