The Unsolved Gruesome Serial Murders of Young Women in the Late 19th Century
The Famous Version: Jack the Ripper
In the late nineteenth century, Jack the Ripper began murdering prostitutes in London's Whitechapel district. We don't know the killer's true identity, despite an entire coven of "Ripperologists" still devoting their efforts to unlocking the mystery. The Ripper's exploits have him dubbed "the world's first serial killer" by some, though if we'd only looked a few thousand miles west and a few years earlier, we'd see ...
What you've never heard of: The Servant Girl Annihilator
The Servant Girl Annihilator isn't the most subtle nickname, we know, but Texas in the 1880s was a simpler time, back when men were men and women were just viciously, brutally murdered all over the place. Seriously, three years before Jack ruined the carefree and utopian ambiance of the destitute London prostitute population, a remarkably similar, even more horrifying case of serial woman killings hit the booming town of Austin, Texas.
Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
"We've always been ahead of the curve." -- some Aus-hole.
The Servant Girl Annihilator began by targeting black servant girls over a period of several months, kidnapping, brutally raping, and dismembering them with an ax. There was a slight uproar in the press early on, but as all the victims were black, female servants and this was Reconstruction Era Texas, the white townsfolk treated it like an epidemic of bicycle theft -- annoying, sure, but you'll just buy a new one. Then, on Christmas Eve, the killer attacked two prominent white women, and white people went flapping into an indignant slack-jawed panic. The headlines were so overwrought we half-suspect they were written by terror-weeping onto the keys of an old typewriter until the weight of the tears depressed a random key.