Urban Legends of Louisiana – The New Orleans Axeman

the-axemanOn May 22, 1918, Joseph Maggio and his wife Catherine, would meet gruesome fates at the hands of a fledgling serial killer: The Axeman of Louisiana.  The Maggios’ were asleep in their home, on the corner of Upperline and Camp streets, when their murderer broke in and sliced their throats with a straight razor. Catherine’s lacerations were so deep that her head was nearly severed.  Dissatisfied with his handy work, the Axeman decided to add his very own special touch by bashing in the heads of his victims with an axe.

The fledgling serial killer, now having committed the first of many heinous acts, found himself longing for the taste of blood again, just a few short weeks later.  During the wee hours of June 27, the Axeman would strike again.  Louis Besumer and his mistress, Harriet Lowe, were bludgeoned with an axe while they slept, ironically with the very axe that Besumer owned.  Both survived the attack,  Lowe died in August due to complications during surgery in attempt to repair damage done during the attack.

On the same day that Harriet Lowe passed, the Axeman sought out another victim.  28 year old, pregnant woman, Elmira Schneider, woke to a dark figure looming over her.  She was then bashed in the head repeatedly with a bedside lamp.

Just a few days after on August 10, Joseph Romano, an elderly man that was living with two of his nieces, was attacked in his sleep with an axe.  Romano survived for a couple of days before dying from his injuries.

It seems that our mysterious Axeman had had his fill.  Several months passed without incident; the streets of New Orleans had settled into a false sense of security.  On the night of March 10th, 1919 screams racked Jefferson Avenue as the Cortmiglia family woke to discover an intruder inside their home.  Charles, Rosie and their young daughter had all been attacked with an ace.  Charles and Rosie would survive but their young daughter died on the scene.

It seems, at this point, that our Axman was more than amused with himself.  Three days after the Cortmiglia attack the infamous “Axeman Letter” makes it’s appearance:

Hell, March 13, 1919

Esteemed Mortal:

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.

The Axeman

 

One would imagine that the Axeman passed the next few weeks hidden in plain sight, observing the chaos that he had created among both the community and law enforcement.  Giddy with his handy-work, his thirst for violence peaked once more.  On August 10th 1919 the Axeman broke into the home of Steve Boca then attacked him while he slept with of course, an axe.  Boca also survived the attack but because of his injuries, could not recall any of the details.

Sarah Laumann, another of his victims who would recover with no recollection of the event, was attacked just a few weeks later.  On the night of September 3rd, neighbors of Laumann who had come to visit, broke down the door when she did not respond.  Laumann was found unconscious in her bed with sever head trauma and missing several teeth; a bloody axe was discovered on the front lawn.

On the night of October 27, 1919, the Axeman would commit his last “verified” attack, resulting in the murder of Mike Pepitone.  Pepitone had been asleep in his bed, next to his wife, who was spared from the attack.  Mrs. Pepitone awoke during the attack and witnessed the assailant flee from the scene but could give no definite description.

 

Many have both analyzed and speculated the identity and motivation of the Louisiana Axeman.  Regardless of his methods or madness, his identity and motivations remain a mystery.

Among one theorist is a dear friend of mine, Todd C Elliott.  Todd published a well researched, factual timeline of the true Axeman murders.  Elliott manages to bind the loose strings of this Louisiana mystery as he investigates all victims and suspects.  “Axes of Evil” is an insightful view of this well known, unsolved “Urban Legend”  Check out his book here!

Tour the Twisted Mind of Author Lyn Gibson

flier1ARMED RADIO GLOBAL and TUNEIN Satellite Networks presents, Southern Horror Queen; Author Lyn Gibson.

Author and horror enthusiast, Lyn Gibson has joined the ARMED RADIO GLOBAL Network and will be launching her premiere show September 19th at 7:00PM Central time.  Lyn is the author of “The Adrian Trilogy” a top selling vampire series based in Southern Louisiana and her more recent release, “Short & Gory” a compilation of uniquely twisted and macabre short stories.  Lyn is also an avid blogger who shares with her followers, dark tales, horrific urban legends, oh and let’s not forget, Vampire history from around the globe.

“I’m excited to have been given this opportunity” Gibson states.  “We were supposed to launch the premiere show several weeks back but because of the massive flooding event here in Louisiana, we had to postpone for a while in order for me to begin recovering from damages.”

Gibson, shortly after having her home devastated by 83 inches of water, upheld her commitment to the American Cancer Society and attended a benefit in nearby Covington Louisiana.  “Things were definitely screwed up for us here but my husband and I discussed it and decided to uphold our obligations.  Though things were really bad for us at that time, we knew that 6 months from now we would have recovered; we could not say the same for some of these kids.  John worked feverishly to repair damage to the dragster by flood waters and as promised, the “Adrian’s Fury” dragster was present and accounted for at the event!”

“I’m looking forward to launching the show with ARMED RADIO GLOBAL” she said grinning broadly.  “I’m hoping that everything flows smoothly.  On the first episode I think it best to introduce myself, you know, give the listeners some idea of what and who I am.  ARMED RADIO has been promoting the show for a while now, I’m certain that there are folks who will be tuning in just out of curiosity to find out what kind of twisted individual I am!”

Author Lyn Gibson is no stranger to the bizarre and terrifying world that exists just outside of mankind’s grasp.  Her research and writing has intrigued a new generation and resurrected the minds of those who have been numbed by recent horror movie/literature releases. Ms. Gibson thrives on sharing her dark tales, she welcomes followers new and old to tune in this Monday Evening at this link:

 

Haunted Louisiana – The Old State Capitol Building

statebuilding     Built between 1847-1852 this lovely Gothic styled monument was not exactly welcomed with open arms.  Baton Rouge residents were appalled by the structure as it was not similar to other traditional Southern Louisiana structures.  The building was also immortalized in a negative light by none other than Mark Twain who referred to it as “A little sham of a castle.”

Originally constructed to act as the throne of Louisiana’s Government, the building is now a museum containing both political history and artifacts, but that’s not all it contains.  It is a well known, and documented fact that there are ghosts within the Old State Capitol Building.

One of these ghosts is said to be Pierre Couvillion, a congressman who died at age 47 of a heart attack during the midst of a heated political debate about gambling .  Having unfinished business at the Capitol Building, Couvillion can be seen, heard and sometimes felt walking the hallowed halls.  There is a tale of a security guard making his rounds one evening that was “bumped” into by a unseen passer-by.  The jolt was enough to turn his body.  Couvillion is also blamed for setting off motion detectors inside of the building.  On one account, a female night guard states that detector alarms were going off in sequence starting from the dining room, through the baby’s room and ending at the Governors’ room.  Once the alarms had settled the guard went to investigate, she discovered that the bed in the Governors’ room had been mussed, as if someone had been laying on top of the blankets.

Couvillion is not the only political figure to have perished in the Old State Capital, and perhaps he continues his unfinished debate with Louisiana Governor and United States Senator Huey Long who was assassinated.  Long was shot while tending to political business and died 31 hours later at a medical facility.  Long is said to be guilty of following visitors throughout the building, the smell of cigar smoke is a indication that he is near by.

Along with these two political figures is also the spirit of a woman.  Sarah Morgan can be seen wandering the halls at night as well.  Sarah is a remnant from the Civil War era, one of the few that adored the magnificent castle like structure.  Better known posthumously for her publication “The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman.”   Sarah wrote of the horrors and tribulations endured by she and her family as the Union soldiers stormed Baton Rouge.  Perhaps, she saw the Capitol building as a safe haven and felt peace within it’s realms as she is noted as a peaceful spirit that can be seen from time to time wandering about or standing in front of one of the upper level windows, peering out onto the grounds.

As if there isn’t enough activity on the upper levels of the building, it is a well known fact that most of the happenings occur in the basement.  Utilized as both a hospital and a jail during the Civil War, a visit to the basement will likely be the most advantageous to ghost hunters.  Many reports have been documented concerning physical contact, evp’s and full bodied specters whilst investigating this area of the building.

Today the Capitol Building (Museum) can be toured, there is even a 12 minute adventure for guests to experience where Sarah Morgan, in 4 D form, tells the history of the building and of those that both lived and died therein.

Urban Legends of Louisiana – The Green Light Bridge

glb1This one is a “not so well known” legend, unless you are a resident of Franklin Parish and in that case, anyone could tell you the tale.  Green light road is found just off LA 15.  One would have no doubt that they have found it, as pavement turns to gravel and dense thickets line the narrow road on either side.  So thick is the overgrowth that sunlight is challenged to filter through.

Just a way down is Green Light Bridge which spans Turkey Creek.  Though the original historic wood framed structure has long since been upgraded, there are some locals that can remember the narrow wooden bridge with no side rails.  Many of these same locals are happy to oblige in sharing the haunted history of this area.

It seems the legend begins with an old church that was constructed in the late 1800’s, just east of the bridge.  Thought the details are sketchy, it is a known fact that someone had been hung in the large tree in front of the church.  Shortly thereafter the church relocated to a more populated area, leaving the old wooden structure to deteriorate as time went by.  During this time, there had been an accident on the bridge, a man was decapitated making the second uncanny death in the same general area.

Years after, a woman driving through the area, wrecked her car into the same tree where the hanging had taken place.  Before she passed away, she testified that she had tried to avoid hitting a man that was walking from the thickets toward the road.  Once her car made impact with the tree, the man disappeared into thin air.

With this, the third untimely death, locals began experiencing frequent paranormal experiences.  Common sightings were of the hanged man, emerging from the tree line, walking toward the road.  Other folks claimed to have seen the decapitated man searching for his head, the eerie green glow of his lantern could be seen bobbing about around and under the bridge.  As if you haven’t guessed, this is how the title “Green Light” Bridge was earned.

Other experiences have been documented in the area.  Residents claim that when crossing the bridge at night, it was not uncommon for vehicles to stall and electronic components fail.  One investigation in 2009 validated that there was a sporadic electromagnetic field present in the area.

So if you’re in the area and decide to visit the “Green Light” Bridge, take the advice of the locals.  If you see a green light, put the pedal to the metal, turn around and get the Hell away from there; unless you are there to visit with the restless souls that haunt a bridge in Franklin Parish.

Urban Legends of Louisiana – The Rougarou

rougarouHere’s another Louisiana legend that varies from community to community.  As a matter of fact, there are nearly as many versions of the legend as there are variations in spelling the name, Rougarou.

This legend took root in Midieval French culture and was born into Louisiana when the first French Canadian immigrant settled among us.  To the French settlers, the tale was spun to keep children in line and out of the woods, especially at night.  To locals, well versed in the effects of VooDoo, the Rougarou became an even more fierce creature.  Said to stand between 7 and 8 feet in height, the beast has a human body but the head of a wolf, with razor sharp teeth and glaring red eyes.  Some believe that you must not look into the eyes of the Rougarou, lest you befall the curse and become one yourself!

There are several theories on how to become a Rougarou.  First, If you were to kill a Rougarou, you could become infected with the curse if you are exposed to its’ blood.  To further this belief, If one were to kill a Rougarou and witness the beast returned to its’ true form, he should not tell anyone of the encounter for 1 year and a day else he would see the same fate.  Other legends, no doubt put in place by the Catholic church, states that if one does not abide by the rules of Lent for seven years, he will become a Rougarou.  And yet another version of the legend says that a person who is turned into a Rougarou is cursed for 101 days, upon the last day the curse is passed to the first victim that the beast draws blood from.  The Rougarou will then permanently return to his human form, the victim will turn into a Rougarou at sunset that day.  Lastly, it is said that one can be cursed by a witch an become a Rougarou as well.

So, what do you do if you are turned into a Rougarou?  I’m glad you asked!  Legend states that you will retain your human form during daylight hours, though you will appear quite sickly to those around you.  At night you will prowl around the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, and sometimes within the city of New Orleans itself.  In these areas you most certainly would not be alone in your prowling however, you would likely be the only one searching for prey, human prey that is!  The Rougarou is said to have and insatiable hunger for blood and unfortunately, it seems to search out those that he knows in his human form to feed upon.

Though there are some parallels between the Rougarou, Vampires and Werewolves, the three are not the same.  The Werewolf has an intolerance for silver, the Vampire detests holy relics, garlic, silver and sunlight.  I have only found these references to talismans used to ward off the Rougarou; a man would place a leaf inside of his wallet, a woman would paint a hexagon beneath her bed.  I don’t know about you, but I find these two forms of protection a bit on the weak side for my liking!

So how would one defend himself against this beast?  Looks like to me, you would have to kill it!  So silver bullets are out and so is the good old stake through the heart approach.  Thank God the Legends are thorough!  Cajun Legends state that the Rougarou must be decapitated and his body mutilated or burned, to keep him dead!

So when and where was the last Rougarou spotted?  Well, it has been a very long time and there is no photographic evidence as found in the case of the Honey Island Swamp monster (sometimes claimed to be akin to the Rougarou).  However, let’s not write the creature off just yet!   Since the massive flooding brought about by hurricane Katrina, there have been reports of something large moving about in the swamps just beyond the suburbs of New Orleans.  Howls and screeching noises can be heard echoing through the bayous at night beneath the Louisiana moon!  Perhaps this is the resurgence of the Rougarou, warning the inhabitants of the suburbs to stay out of the swamps, especially at night!