Case One: The Axeman of New Orleans
Instead of coming at you with a more famous case, I’ve choosen a lesser known one to get us started.
The first murder happened in May of 1918 and continued through October of 1919. Till this day, no one has been identified as The Axeman though numerous leads were followed. Not all of the victims died but those who didn’t were left badly injured. In some of the crimes, the doors to the victim’s homes were first bashed open with the same tool. This was the case in the first murder where the door to the house was bashed in with the weapon that was later used to kill a husband and wife.
Some of the earlier victims were of Italian decent leading some to believe that the killings were Mafia related but that lead was unfounded due to the fact that future killings didn’t meet the previous criteria. One victim was a pregnant woman and another a baby that was killed in his mothers arms.
Playing off Jack The Ripper, The Axeman started contacting local newspapers. He would send them taunting letters. These letters would hint at future crimes and he claimed to be straight from Hell, a demon of sorts. Most notoriously, on March 13, 1919, a letter purporting to be from the Axeman was published in the newspapers saying that he would kill again at 15 minutes past midnight on the night of March 19th, but would spare the occupants of any place where a jazz band was playing. That night all of New Orleans’s dance halls were filled to capacity, and professional and amateur bands played jazz at parties at hundreds of houses around town. There were no murders that night.
Even though The Axeman was never caught, Crime writer Colin Wilson speculates the Axeman could have been Joseph Mumfre, a man shot to death in Los Angeles in 1920 by the widow of Mike Pepitone, the Axeman’s last known victim. Pepitone’s widow, who served only three years for the killing, claimed to recognize Mumfre as the man she saw fleeing her home the night she discovered her husband’s body. Though there is no direct proof of Mumfre’s guilt, Wilson notes that Mumfre was in jail during all of the Axeman’s “dormant” periods (including the period from 1912-1918), and free at all times the Axeman struck.
Information found here came from Answers.com.