Servant Girl Annihilator
Shift in Victim Type
The "Servant Girl Annihilator" struck again on Christmas Eve, 1885, but this time the attacks were different. Hollandsworth indicates that just after a concert at the State Institution for the Blind, Moses Hancock, 50, woke up and discovered his wife murdered and lying in the backyard of their home on San Jacinto Boulevard. She had been pulled from their bed while he dozed on a chair. Sue Hancock, a white woman, had been bludgeoned with an ax, her head cleaved open, and a sharp, thin implement remained stuck in her brain. Blood ran from her ears and matted her hair. She did not die immediately, although she did not retain consciousness, either. Those who examined her noted that she had been raped.
The new marshal, James Lucy, brought in bloodhounds, just like his predecessor, who had been ousted for lack of confidence. Yet this former Texas Ranger was as much at a loss about how to catch the fiend as Lee had been. And he was about to get another challenge.
That same hour, Eula Phillips died as well. Hollandsworth describes "Luly" as one of the "loveliest women in Austin." She'd had dark curly hair, pale skin, an exquisite figure, and "contemplative" eyes, and many a man had turned to look at her as she passed. Hollandsworth goes on to show how she symbolized a more civilized and modern Austin than had once been the case. Saylor actually makes this "frail" woman the fictional lover of William Sydney Porter, who over the subsequent years becomes haunted by the series of murders. Hollandsworth, too, offers clues to the possibility that Eula was an unfaithful wife, taking up with a prominent politician.
In fact, Eula had been killed in what seemed a protected area, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Austin. Her nude, "outraged" body, spread-eagled, with arms pinned under some lumber (which led some to believe that the crime had to have been perpetrated by two men), was discovered in an alley near the home of her father-in-law, where she had lived with her husband, Jimmy, and their infant son. Jimmy, too, had been attacked. He lay in bed unconscious, with a severe wound on the back of his head. The boy, unharmed, was next to him, clutching a piece of an apple. An ax lay in the middle of the floor and a trail of blood ran from the bedroom to the alley where Eula was left, her skull smashed. A bloody shoeprint, clearly from a man, had been left behind on the porch.
The gossip traveled fast and reporters from several papers managed to see the body before it was removed. They wrote about Eula's agonized expression as she lay face-up and assumed that she had suffered terribly before she died. "The Demons have transferred their thirst for blood to white people!" shouted one of the papers. Another splashed "Blood! Blood! Blood!" across the front page to announce the "butchery." Fullerton quotes the Statesman from an article: "The baying of bloodhounds frantically seeking the killer's scent broke into the usual chorus of Yuletide merriment, chilling holiday spirits." It was a regular heyday for crime reporters, and with the new element of white women being attacked, practically everyone bought these editions of the papers.
Some people now spoke of this killer as a supernatural creature, while the more pragmatic ones purchased weapons or kept the ones they owned loaded and ready. On Christmas day, a meeting was held which some five hundred frightened citizens attended to devise strategies for making the town a safer place. As a result, the "moonlight towers" were erected to light up the city streets at night — still in place a century later. Marshal Lucy hired and posted more officers, charging them with the task, says Hollandsworth, of finding out more about strangers in town. Rewards were offered from both the governor and a citizen's group, which lured detectives from other areas to try to solve the mystery, and in general, people took more personal precautions at night. Taverns were forced to close at midnight.
But after that Christmas Eve, the murders suddenly stopped. There would be no more clues, no more opportunities to get out the hounds, and no more footprints left behind. Yet someone had to pay; the city needed closure on this series of deadly attacks. So, logic and rumor combined to dictate a story that made some sense to law enforcement, even if there was no evidence to support it. Within three days, an arrest was made.