Segments in this Video

Who Was the Texas Servant Girls Killer? (04:02)


On December 30th, Mollie Smith was attacked in her bed. Seven more killings would follow her gruesome murder. The history detectives will bring modern forensic science to decode the unsolved crimes. (Credits)

"Bloody Work" (02:17)

Wes Cowan searches the "Austin Statesman" microfilm for information about the murders. Assaults on servant woman, most of them African-American, occurred throughout 1884. An article on Smith describes the brutal first murder; her boyfriend is found unconscious.

Murders Continue (03:17)

Eliza Shelley's children witnessed her death and were too traumatized to provide any details to law enforcement. Susan Hancock and Eula Philips were murdered on Christmas Eve, 1885. Skip Hollandsworth wrote in "Texas Monthly" that he suspected a single serial killer. Cowan describes discrepancies between the murders.

Terrorizing the Community (03:46)

Cowan calls Kaiama Glover and asks her to meet Martin Wagner and Dorothy Larson. V.O. Weed discovered Rebecca Ramey raped with a spike piercing her ears; she was only eleven. Police interviewed former boyfriends, husbands, and criminals.

Multiple Assailant Theory (03:38)

Doug Dukes describes the investigation techniques Austin's police department possessed in 1885. African American men would be arrested for being barefoot in a stable a bloodhound located; frequently, detectives would threaten beatings and lynching during interrogation. Husbands and former boyfriends were arrested for the crimes.

Descendant of Phillips (04:07)

Eula married James Phillips when she was only fifteen years old; it was an acrimonious marriage. Dorothy Larson's grandmother refused to tell her the details of the murder. Hollandsworth called and told her that Phillips was dragged out of the house and killed in the yard.

Trial of the Century (05:08)

Steven Saylor studied Jimmy's murder trial. James Robertson sensationalized the case, claiming Eula worked as a prostitute, had a series of affairs, and visited an African American madam before her death. No linkage was made between Susan Hancock's attack and Eula's death; the jury voted to convict Jimmy.

Lust Murders (03:26)

Harold Schechter looks over the newspaper articles in the "Austin Statesman" and believes it is a lone serial killer. Jessie Pomeroy, also known as the Boston Boy Fiend, tortured and murdered a string of children. Because the victims were mostly African American, the crimes did not receive the same attention.

Surviving Evidence (03:14)

During court proceedings, an attorney asks a witness about George McCutcheon's feet. During the appeal process, a judge overturns Jimmy's conviction. Glover and Zuberi compare similarities and differences in the murders; only Irene Cross was not dragged elsewhere.

Speaking to Modern Profiler (04:28)

Mark Safarik believes one culprit is responsible for the murders and is most likely a young African American male in his 20s. Something prevented the miscreant from committing additional murders, most likely death or incarceration.

Meeting a Geographic Profiler (04:17)

Kim Rossmo explains that many of the murders occurred near "Guy Town," which was a center of prostitution. Susan Hancock's murderer could have followed Eula Phillips home after she visited May Tobin's brothel. A computer program analyzes the murder locations and determines the most probably areas the killer lived or worked in.

Searching for Foot Abnormalities (05:37)

Zuberi searches 1886 police ledgers to determine if the killer was arrested, killed, or skipped town. The San Antonio Daily Express reported about a bar room brawl after an African American young man attacked a woman. Nathan Elgin had a missing toe.

Finding a Suspect (03:52)

Sheriff Malcolm Hornsby inferred under oath that Nathan Elgin may have killed Eula during Moses Hancock's trial. Missing toe footprints were discovered at Eula and Ramey's crime scenes. J.R. Galloway determined Elgin worked at Simon's, an upscale restaurant on Pecan Street.

Conclusion: Episode 3: Texas Servant Girl Murders (02:56)

Authorities suspected Elgin, but were focused on convicting Moses and Jimmy. Zuberi, Cowan, and Glover summarize the episode.

Credits: Episode 3: Texas Servant Girl Murders (00:31)

Credits: Episode 3: Texas Servant Girl Murders

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Episode 3: Texas Servant Girl Murders

Part of the Series : History Detectives: Special Investigations
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



In 1885, six African-American servants and two white society women were killed in Austin, Texas — almost all bludgeoned with an ax, dragged from their beds and raped. As quickly as the killings started, they stopped. No killer was ever identified. Desperate to find someone to blame, the authorities first rounded up hundreds of black men. Later, they pointed the finger at a white man, James Philips, whom they accused of murdering his teenage bride. Although Philips was eventually acquitted, the trial was akin to the OJ Simpson trial, with sensational, lurid details spilling out in court. After the furor and panic died down, so did the memory of the killings. Can the History Detectives solve these murders? They pore over the records and apply cutting-edge police techniques to determine who killed the servant girls of Austin.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL131281

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video, Dealer and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.