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Waukesha Freeman (Wisconsin)
1 October 1885


Austin, Tex., Sept. 30.
A horrible tragedy was enacted Sunday night, in which a negro man and three negro women were brutally murdered by having their skulls crushed with an axe. They were servants in the family of Mr. W. B. Dunham, editor of Texas Court Reporter, and occupied a shanty in the rear of his premises on Gaudaloup (sic) street. The names of the victims were Orange Washington, his wife (known as Grace Vance), Patsie Gibson and Lucinda Boddy. From the testimony and surrounding circumstances it appears that the assassins entered the room of the sleeping occupants through a window, and before any of them awoke succeeded in striking all four of them on the head with an axe.

Seizing Grace Vance, they dragged her through a window, threw her over a fence, and then pulled her through weeds across a vacant lot to a rear stable. At this place she must have recovered consciousness as evidences of a death struggle are abundant. She was, however, overpowered and her head battered to a jelly with a brick, and, apparently, while she was struggling between life and death, was criminally assaulted.

While the fiends were committing this horror Lucinda Boddy, recovering somewhat from the blow she had received, regained sufficient strength to get up and light a lamp in the shanty. One of the assassins, seeing the light, returned and, shaking his head in the window, cursed the woman and ordered her to put out the light. On seeing him she screamed and ran from the building. He leaped through the window, put the light out, followed and overtook the fleeing woman.

Just as she got to the front gate there was another desperate struggle, during which Mr. Dunham, who was awakened by the woman's screams, threw open his front door. Not knowing that murder had been committed, and thinking that the disturbance was a simple row, he levelled his gun at them without intention of shooting, and ordered them to cease their noise. The woman, by a desperate struggle, freed herself from the assassin, and, running to Mr. Dunham, threw her arms around him and implored his protection, saying the man had murdered everyone in the shanty. The murderer ran as soon as the woman ran to Mr. Dunham, who at once called his neighbors to assist in catching the murderer, who was now running through the thicket a few blocks back of the house.

Grace Vance was dead when found. Orange Washington died at an early hour Monday morning. Patsie Gibson and Lucinda Boddy are in the hospital. There are hopes that Lucinda will recover, but there are no hopes for Patsie. All the victims are terrible gashed in the head and face. The entire details of the crime resemble closely that of the murder of Mary Rainey and daughter, a few weeks ago, and it is generally agreed that the same fiends committed both crimes. Two negroes are under arrest on suspicion, and officers are in pursuit of a third who answers the description given by Lucinda Boddy.

Intense excitement prevails among both whites and blacks at the repeated occurrences of this nature in the capital city, which seem to be directed against white and colored servants. At the Coroner's inquest the jury rendered a verdict against a negro named Doc Wood. He was captured Monday night by officers in Baird's cotton field, eight miles from town. Blood was found on the lower part of his shirt and on his sleeves.

Related pages:
  Austin Axe Murders
       Dissertations: Dear Diary 
       Dissertations: Rediscovering Austin's Jack the Ripper 
       Press Reports: Atchison Daily Globe - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Atchison Daily Globe - 30 September 1885 
       Press Reports: Austin Statesman - 05 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Austin Statesman - 10 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Chester Times - 29 September 1885 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 2 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 2 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Frederick News - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: North Eastern Daily Gazette - 3 October 1888 
       Press Reports: People - 7 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 12 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 2 October 1888 
       Press Reports: The News - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 12 October 1888