The Axeman of New Orleans was a famous serial killer, that terrorized the city in the early 1900's and was never found.
There are many stories and theories surrounding the Axeman. This is mostly because no one ever had a clear description of him.
The Axeman is most remembered by his odd victim targets: Italian grocers.
His first victims were seen in 1910, but it wasn't until 1911 that one of his attacks on a victim was fatal. Joe Davi was found with his face battered with a weapon consistent with a butcher's cleaver, and his brains literally beaten out of his skull.
After his first kill, he disappeared for years and then struck again in 1918.
An Italian grocer named Joseph Maggio and his wife were butchered while sleeping in their apartment above the Maggio grocery store.
Upon investigation, the police discovered that a panel in the rear door had been chiseled out, providing a way in for the killer. The murder weapon, an axe, was found in the apartment, and was still covered with the Maggio’s blood.
Detectives quickly went to work on the case and while several suspects were arrested and questioned, all were released for lack of evidence against them.
Investigators soon realized that the crime was the exact same as the one that happened years before, in 1911.
And that's when things went from scary to terrifying...
After Maggio killing, there were many attacks done by axes but the victims survived, none being able to give a clear description of the attacker.
By this point, attacks and murders were happening incredibly often, and terror was taking over the city. People were so afraid, that families divided shifts and stood guard over their relatives as they slept. People started carrying loaded shotguns with them at all times.
At each crime scene, they found the same chiseled out panel in the door where the man entered. This brought up confusion, and where a lot of the theories came from. The hole was too small for a regular sized man to fit through, so many people thought it was a woman. But then every one of the descriptions was that the Axeman was in fact, a man.
This is when people started to believe he was a creature from the underworld, or perhaps a real-life boogeyman.
After a few more attacks, the Axeman had seemed to vanish, and everything went back to normal, for a year.
In 1919, the Axeman returned.
Mrs. Cortimiglia, the wife of a grocer, woke up to find her husband struggling with a large man in dark clothing who was armed with an axe. Her blood-covered husband fell on the floor to his death. Mrs. Cortimiglia then held her two-year-old daughter and begged the attacker for their lives. The axe then came down on them both, killing the daughter and fracturing the skull of her mother.
This murder was thought to be the most brutal of all, and his first child victim.
Shortly after these murders, the police said they believed all of the murders were from the same killer and not a copycat. They described the killer as “a bloodthirsty maniac, filled with a passion for human slaughter." Soon after, on March 14, 1919, the editor of The New Orleans Times newspaper received a letter from a man who claimed to be the Axeman.
This is what the letter said:
Hell, March 13, 1919
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.
Residents all over the city followed his instructions and played jazz music throughout households and restaurants, all night.
Surprisingly, this worked. No attacks or murders happened that night.
All was quiet for a few months until he struck again. He attacked three more people until he performed his final murder.
A grocer named Mike Pepitone was butchered in his bed during the night. His wife and six children, asleep in the next room, were not touched.
After that, the Axeman completely disappeared and the horror came to an end.
To this day, there is no further information or evidence on who this brutal killer could have been.
So, was the Axeman a mysterious creature from the underworld? Or just a deranged psychopath?