The Axeman’s Jazz


The Axeman of New Orleans is an unsolved murder case that happened in the 20th century, ranging from 1918 to 1919. The gruesome murders led to many suspects, but no one was ever charged with the death of 6 lives and 12 victims. 


The first attack started on May 23, 1918. Catherine and Joseph Maggio were struck by an axe, and slit in the throat by a razor. Catherine was almost entirely decapitated and Joseph left with severe injuries. They were found by Joseph’s brothers. Nothing was taken from their house and from further investigation, the bottom panel on the kitchen door was knocked out and the only thing that was left was Maggio’s axe. 

In the meantime two other people were attacked, but the next attack is the most important. On August 10,1918, Joseph Romano was found by his nieces Paulene and Mary after they heard him struggling. When they arrived they saw his head was bashed in. Joseph’s nieces reportedly saw the attacker and described him as, “dark tall heavy set wearing a dark suit and a black slouch hat”. Two days Joseph Romano passed away two days later. Around this time the press started to talk more about the killings. 

A family of three was attacked, but at this point another huge breakthrough in the case happened. The press had received a letter from the supposed axe man. In the letter he claimed to be not a human and told the people of New Orleans that he can be much worse. He went on to mock the police, but the most important thing to take from this letter was his jazz threat. According to, website that is specifically made for ghost hunters and discussion over serial killer cases, the letter said, “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.”. This threat struck fear in all of New Orleans and on  March 19, 1919 everyone played jazz on their radios and those who couldn’t afford one went into local jazz clubs. The axeman did not strike this night and no one was killed.

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 On August 10, 1919 the attacks started again. Steve Boca was the next victim. He survived but sadly, never regained his memories. Early September, 1919 Sarah Laumann was attacked. Supposedly the attacker got in through an open window. After the attack she lost consciousness, but couldn’t remember anything after she recovered. 

The final reported attack was on October 27, 1919. Esther Pepitone had woken up to her husband Mike Pepitone screaming in their bedroom. Mike had been stuck 18 times in the head and he died 2 hours later. She recalled seeing two figures, but could not identify them as they left the scene.