Mass Murderers, Serial Killers and Moon Towers

I originally planned for this to be my Halloween entry, but as usual, procrastination got the better of me.

I have lived in Austin Texas my entire life and it wasn’t until Halloween weekend that I found out why there are Moon Towers around this city. What’s a Moon Tower? Here’s an old picture.

The city of Austin built these 31 of these things in 1884. There’s only 17 of them left now. What has always bothered me about these thing is ‘why’. Why, in 1884, would the city of Austin, with all 18,000 residents, spend what little money they had on these street lights?
The only answer I was getting on-line was that they were “built to reduce crime.”
Since that wasn’t answering my questions so I set off to the Austin History Center, located downtown next to the courthouse to find the answer for myself. I confronted the clerk, and in a stern voice I demanded to know why this city has moon towers. The clerk showed me a web site that explains everything. Apparently I had forgotten that phones exist. Not to be outdone by my own incompetence, I pressed my investigation forward in the comfort of my own home. Here’s what I found:

Why did Austin build the Moon towers? Because of Jack the Ripper.

http://www.whatwasthen.com/ripper.htm

It’s the first documented serial killer in the U.S., known as the Servant Girl Annihilator – which could of very well been The Jack the Ripper. In 1884, the Ripper disappeared from London, and almost immediately a slew of similar grisly murders began occurring in Austin, Texas. At the same time a Ripper suspect arrived in town. What are the odds? And what would make a cook in London decide to move to Austin, Texas in 1884? Dramatic moves like that only means one thing. He was lookin’ not to be found.

“One suspect, who rarely gets mentioned by Ripperologists, was a Malay cook calling himself Maurice who often worked aboard ships. The London Times described him in October as a man who had threatened to kill White chapel prostitutes but who had then disappeared. It turned out that in 1885 he had been employed at the Pearl House, a small hotel, in Austin, Texas. A letter to the editor of the Statesman drew the newspaper’s attention to it and a reporter checked it out. The information was confirmed, and it was ascertained that the cook had left the premises in January 1886. The series of murder had ended just weeks earlier. Most of the victims resided not far from the Pearl House.”

In 1885 they erected the Moon Towers to assuage Austin’s population against a this serial killer. When Maurice left, the killings stopped.
Austin, it seems, has a long history of serial killers. Henry Lee Lucas, Miriam White, Susan Hey, Kenneth Allen McDuff, Robert Burns Springsteen Jr., Vaclav Plch, Regis Philbin – just to name a few off the top of my head. If we include the mass murderers like Charles Whitman, the sniper on the U.T. tower in 1963, and Dubya, it’s easy to fit Austin with a Bermuda triangle, OF MURDER!!! (Please remember when re-telling this story to over dramatize the last part.)
It’s strange that none of these murderers were born here in Austin. They just all seemed to gravitate here after Satan spawned them from somewhere else. Much like New York and Martha Stewart.
I’ve always thought of Austin as the eye of the hurricane in the middle of the swirling madness that is Texas. Sky pilots jabbering in heaven surround the Texas Triangle. Just East in Huntsville, our state is putting men to death in record numbers. South, in New Braunfels is the infamous Snake Farm. That’s “in famous.” Next door, in Round Rock, you can find Pentecostal’s that dance with poisonous serpents sent by Satan. Also, “in famous”, much like New York and Martha Stewart.
After much reflection I have decided that the imbalanced mind is drawn to the Austin area from the gravitational pull of other demented minds that converge on this location. The Texas Legislature meets every two years. And you, “will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Actually I’m a big of fan of my home town, but I can’t dismiss the notion that Austin may be the serial killer capitol of the world. I may not be the first person to realize Austin’s underground image. The Capitol City Volleyball Association down at the Austin Rec center has a team named the Austin Serial Killers. I imagine their main strategy is to have the girls show up covered in blood and carrying knifes; win by forfeit.
On another note:
I went down to Sixth street on Halloween and took a few pictures. This means only one thing. Christmas is coming, so I am hereby announcing my Jihad on Christmas. Santa, this year you’re going down!

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2 responses to “Mass Murderers, Serial Killers and Moon Towers

  1. The moon towers were bought from Detroit and erected in 1894. Not 1884. Woulda been a lot cooler if it were true.

  2. When I came to U.T. in 1950 the towers were known as “freshman
    moons”. Any one else w/a similar
    recollection?

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