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The Axeman of New Orleans

In the early 20th century, from May of 1918 to October of 1919, a prolific serial killer was on the prowl in New Orleans. His name was adopted due to the fact that he used an axe in every attack performed. Typically, the axe belonged to the very person he was attacking at the time. Although the Axeman left many of his victims deceased, the few that survived the attacks claimed that he seemed to almost appear in their room without so much as a noise to alert them.

The number of the Axeman’s victims are in the upper teens, although many speculate that he may have begun killing as early as 1911. Every attack happened sometime between the late evening and early morning hours, and each one seemed to have the same eerie backstory. A large man, wielding an axe, would suddenly appear at the foot of the victims’ beds, where he would then dispatch them. After his attack, he would leave the axe behind and vanish. For years, local authorities in the New Orleans area searched for this monster, but to no avail. However, in March of 1919, a letter was sent to a local newspaper outlet.

The Axeman’s Letter

Hell, March 13, 1919

Esteemed Mortal of New Orleans: The Axeman

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.

When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.

If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don’t think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.

Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens (and the worst), for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death.

Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:

I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it out on that specific Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.

Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy.

–The Axeman

The Days Following the Axeman’s Letter

Of course, in fear for their lives, everyone in New Orleans that evening either participated in festivities at local jazz clubs or played jazz music in their homes. And as the Axeman had promised in his letter, no victims were murdered that night. And for months after that night, it seemed that he may not attack again. Unfortunately, on August 10, 1919, another man was attacked by the Axeman, although he survived his attacks. Due to the substantial head trauma made by the attacker, he was never able to remember the events of that evening.

The fear-mongering of the Axeman continued on for several more months, but after the attack and murder of Mike Pepitone on October 27, 1919, the Axeman disappeared without a trace. He left nothing but a large body-count in his wake and an infamous tale that would pass own through generations to come.

Although most folks nowadays claim that the Axeman was a single man followed by several copycat killers, there are still some that theorize he may have been of supernatural origin. One piece of evidence that points to this theory is his letter, which claims throughout that he is not human, but a demon. His letter also claims that he craves the warmth of his “native Tartarus,” which is a deep abyss of Greek mythology used to torment the wicked. This is an odd detail, since only months later he would seemingly disappear completely. In addition to this odd letter, it’s also speculated that he may have been able to materialize within his victims’ homes without breaking down any doors, seeming to appear from thin air.

The Axeman was a terrible and sadistic murderer that plagued the streets of New Orleans for two unbearable years. His victims will forever be remembered and mourned. And although it is relatively certain that he was just a man, it’s interesting to wonder if he was perhaps something even more ominous than a killer. Was the Axeman of New Orleans a twisted and demented psychopath, or was he possibly a demonic force?