Newly found documents related to "Servant Girl Murders"
Never before seen documents related to the "Servant Girl Murders" have been found and will be put on display starting this week. The notorious, unsolved murders were carried out by an elusive killer who terrorized the City of Austin during 1884 and 1885.
It's one of Austin's most notorious and unsolved crimes: the "Servant Girl Murders."
"This was three years before 'Jack the Ripper,' 75 years before the term 'serial killer' even existed. So when something strange did happen in the City of Austin, the entire world took notice," says John Maverick, a tour guide of Austin Ghost Tours.
After 130 years, four newly discovered documents could shed some light on the case. They were found inside of an old warehouse by Travis County Archivist Christy Costlow.
"I opened one box in particular, after spending a year or two going through these boxes, and I found a document dated 1885. I saw the word 'axe' and I knew exactly what is was. So, it was a very exciting thing to find," says Costlow.
There is an autopsy and inquest for one of the victims.
"A little diagram of their yard and where she was found," says Costlow.
There are also documents on two court cases.
"Two of the husbands were charged for the murders of their respective wives. One resulted in a hung jury and one was convicted but later overturned because he was also injured in the attack," says Costlow.
There were a total of eight murders across Austin. The first on December 30th 1884, one block west of Shoal Creek. Mollie Smith, believed to be around 25 years old, was attacked by someone using an axe in her sleep, dragged into the backyard, raped and murdered. The crime scenes were consistent, all happening at night, which is why police later implemented moonlight towers. The last victim was 17-year-old Eula Phillips, killed on Christmas Eve of 1885.
"At the top of the hill, where the parking structure now stands, is where Eula Phillips house was," says Maverick.
Maverick walks by this spot on a daily basis as a tour guide. He tells people what he's learned about the case over the years.
"His serial killings don't mimic any other killings in the world. There is one common belief that our serial killer went on to become "Jack the Ripper" but it doesn't add up...although, it was three years later and someone could have easily went from Austin to London in that time. "Jack the Ripper," he disemboweled his victims. Our serial killer, used the brain to kill. Serial killers do not change their methods," says Maverick.
With many people fascinated with the case, the newly found documents will be put on display to help tell the history of Austin.
"In a way we're piecing it together. It is still a mystery. We don't know for sure who committed these crimes but we're getting all these clues from various archival repositories. So, it's an interesting study," says Costlow.
Travis County is hosting History Day on October 27. As part of that, they will be putting the documents on display at the Travis County Administration Building located at 700 Lavaca Street. The event will be held from 10:00 a.m. to noon. The documents will stay there for about a month and then be transferred to another location.