Episode 102: The “Servant Girl Annihilator”

Host: Augusta Dell’Omo, Department of History
Guest: Lauren Henley, Department of History

In 1885, the world’s attention was focused on a series of grisly murders that took place in the otherwise quiet town of Austin, Texas. Several African-American women were murdered in the middle of the night, leading the press to dub the unknown assailant “the Servant-Girl Annihilator.” The serial killer phenomenon was so new that some even went so far as to speculate that Jack the Ripper was the same person.

Lauren Henley describes America’s first (known) serial killer, what the events tell us about the racial history of the region and the reason why true crime fascinates so many.

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