10 Ruthless Serial Killers Who Were Never Identified

zodiac-killer-serial-killer-2 (Images: via Wikimedia Commons (left, right), public domain)

Urban legends and horror movies are terrifying, not in a small part because we know that they’re not always that far-fetched. The Slender Man might not be waiting for us around the corner as we’re walking home from the pub, but there might just be someone else waiting there. Serial killers have been around since organized law enforcement have had the manpower and the know-how to start connecting the dots, and there’s no doubts that they’ve been around much longer than we know. We never know when they’re going to be waiting around the corner, and it’s something that a city can never truly recover from – especially, if they’re never caught.

10. The Servant Girl Annihilator

serial-killers-servant-girl-annihilator (Images: Fort Worth Gazette; Augustus Koch; public domain)

In 1884 – four years before Jack the Ripper would terrorize Whitechapel – an unidentified serial killer stalked rather unlikely hunting grounds in Austin, Texas. He was dubbed the ‘Servant Girl Annihilator’, for the targets of his brutal attacks.

Mollie Smith and Eliza Shelly – both cooks in the households of upstanding families – were brutally murdered with an axe. Irene Cross survived her attack long enough to speak with a reporter, who noted that she had been scalped. Rebecca Ramey and her 11-year-old daughter were the next victims, and not long after, Gracie Vance and Orange Washington were murdered in their sleep, on the property of the house they worked in.

By winter of 1885, the killer had targeted his first white woman – Sue Hancock. The same night, Eula Phillips was found not far from where her husband had been attacked in their bedroom.

And the serial killer was never found.

Attempts have been made to link Austin’s unidentified serial killer to Jack the Ripper, but even after more than a century, no concrete evidence has ever been found. Eula Phillips was the last victim, and a combination of police corruption and a lack of forensic knowledge aided the killer in getting away with it – even though he had left the murder weapon, an axe, behind at several of the crime scenes. And the racial prejudices of the day meant that no one dreamed that a white man would be responsible for the deaths of black servants, and that meant the suspect pool was very, very narrow from the start.

Two men were eventually charged with the crimes, in a plot that would have made Alfred Hitchcock proud. The husbands of Sue Hancock and Eula Phillips were put on trial, based on a letter from Sue stating she was going to divorce her hard-drinking husband, and rumors that Eula had, after aborting her second pregnancy by her husband, started making regular visits to one of Austin’s houses of ill repute. It was never determined why she had started visiting a brothel, but inconclusive ideas about political scandals and intrigues were tossed around.

In the end, both men were released. No one else was ever arrested in connection with the rash of deaths, and those involved in the case scattered. Nothing in the way of forensic evidence remains, and those who were there are long dead. Even tracking down family members, like the granddaughter of Eula Phillips’s sister, have proved to be dead ends.


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About the author: Debra Kelly




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