Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Strange Letter from a New Orleans Serial Killer

Ninety-five years ago a killer was striking fear in New Orleans. His spree claimed at least twelve known victims though that number could be a great deal higher. "The Axeman" was never identified and like London's Ripper before him, endless theories abound as to his identity. His most famous and very odd letter follows:

Hell, March 13, 1919

Esteemed Mortal:

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, 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 on 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

A few New Orleans residents were not intimidated and one brave soul, in particular, even said he would leave a window ajar, giving instructions for a showdown. And local tune writer Joseph John Davilla wrote,"The Mysterious Axman's Jazz (Don't Scare Me Papa)". The cover depicted a family playing music with frightened looks on their faces.

Somehow all this colorful history was lost to me until Heath Lowrance sent THE AXEMAN OF STORYVILLE my way that weaves the serial killer's history with my fictional hero Gideon Miles. Now it's 1921, a new world for former U.S. Marshal Gideon Miles, retired and running one of the most popular jazz clubs in the city. But when a deranged axe murderer strikes at the prostitutes of Storyville, and the Black Hand takes up arms, Miles is drawn back into the world he knows so well--the world of evil men, buried secrets, and violent death. Just like old times.


Charles Gramlich said...

I knew vaguely about the Axeman but no details. This is cool. a very nice teaser for the book.

Jay said...

The Axeman was featured on the FX series American Horror Story: Coven. Danny Huston played him. Looking forward to the showdown with Gideon.

David Cranmer said...

Charles, Axeman history completely escaped me until Heath's book showed up in my inbox.

Saw that on the Wikipedia page, Jay. Will definitely take a look when I get the chance. Thanks. And I always appreciate you stopping by, amigo.