Axe murder

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A collection of old Australian axes and other cutting tools.

An axe murder is a murder in which the victim was struck and killed by an axe or hatchet.

List of axe murders[edit]

The following are some notable cases.

  • Wenno von Rohrbach, the first Master of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, was killed by the knight Wickbert with an axe in a quarrel, 1209.
  • Mary Russell (ship) murders, in which ship's captain William Stewart dispatched seven members of his crew with crowbar and axe, 1828.
  • Frankie Stewart Silver, first woman executed by the State of North Carolina, for the murder of her husband Charles, 1833.
  • Helen Jewett was a prostitute in New York City who was allegedly murdered by Richard P. Robinson. He was tried and acquitted in 1836.
  • The Smuttynose Island murders in 1873, in which Louis Wagner was tried, convicted, and hanged for the murder of two Norwegian immigrant women. One was killed with a chair and the other with an axe, on an island off the coast of Maine.
  • Vacelet Family Murders, in which Jean Desire Vacelet, his wife Victoire, and his sons Francis and John were murdered by an axe wielding assailant in Vincennes, Indiana on October 24, 1878, allegedly by Alsace immigrant Pierre Provost, who committed suicide in his jail cell.[1][2][3]
  • An unidentified serial killer known as Servant Girl Annihilator committed eight murders, mostly those of young women, with an axe in Austin, Texas in 1884 and 1885. These murders are also nicknamed the "Austin Axe Murders".
  • The Fall River Axe Murders, Lizzie Borden was charged and tried for the hatchet murders of her father and stepmother in 1892. The jury acquitted her.
  • Meeks Family Murders, in which Gus Meeks, 33, and his family, wife Delora (30), and daughters Hattir (4) and Mary (18 months) were murdered near Jenkins Cemetery in Browning, Missouri (one daughter Nellie, escaped), on May 18, 1894.[4]
  • Lord George Sanger, English showman and circus proprietor, murdered with a hatchet at his home by employee Herbert Charles Cooper, for unknown reasons; Cooper subsequently committed suicide, 1911.
  • Between 1911 and 1912 in Texas and Louisiana, Clementine Barnabet and some accomplices committed several family massacres with axes.
  • Villisca Axe Murders, 1912.
  • Axeman of New Orleans, a serial killer active in New Orleans, Louisiana (and surrounding communities, including Gretna, Louisiana), from May 1918 to October 1919.
  • Paul Mueller traveled through the United States between 1898 and 1912, murdering families with axes and similar idiosyncrasies and location. Bill James in his book The Man from the Train proposes him as the prime suspect for the Villisca Axe Murders again due it having idiosyncrasies and geographical patterns to other murders attributed Mueller. He is possibly one of the most prolific surreal killers in American history. His German origins and timelines also make him a suspect to the Hinterkaifeck murders
  • The 1922 Hinterkaifeck murders.
  • Karl Denke of Munsterberg, Germany (now Ziębice, Poland). Arrested in 1924 for attacking a man with a hatchet; the victim survived. Believed to have killed and eaten 42 men. Committed suicide two days after his arrest.
  • Eva Dugan, first woman and last person executed by hanging by state of Arizona for murder of chicken rancher Andrew Mathis, 1927.
  • John Barkoski, murdered by being beaten to death with pick-axes by the Coal and Iron Police February 9, 1929.
  • Victor Licata, who killed his father, mother, two brothers, and a sister with an axe in Tampa, Florida, allegedly while under the influence of marijuana, which inspired the film Reefer Madness, 1933.
  • John Frederick Stockwell, who confessed to the murder of cinema manager Dudley Hoard in London, United Kingdom and was executed in 1934.
  • Leon Trotsky, assassinated with an ice axe by Soviet agent Ramón Mercader, 1940.
  • Toivo Koljonen murdered a family of six with an axe and became the last Finn executed for a civilian crime, 1943.
  • The Kludt Murders, in which self-proclaimed serial killer Jake Bird[5] was convicted and executed for the axe murders of Bertha Kludt (age 52) and her daughter Beverly June (17) in Tacoma, Washington, 1947.
  • Yaroslav Halan, Soviet Ukrainian anti-Fascist writer, killed with an axe by Ukrainian nationalists in his home office, 1949.
  • Elifasi Msomi a.k.a. The Axe Killer, a South African serial killer who was convicted and executed by hanging for 15 murders, 1955.
  • Kumudini boat massacre, an incident in which at least 23 minority Sri Lankan Tamil men, women and children on a ferry boat named Kumudini sailing from the island of Delft to the island of Nainathievu were alleged to have been hacked to death with a hatchet by Sri Lankan Navy personnel, 1985.
  • Daniel Morgan, British private investigator who was investigating police corruption, found dead with an axe wound to the back of his head, 1987.
  • The Night of the Pitchforks, an incident in which Israeli Arab guerrillas from the Wadi Ara area, members of the Islamic movement, infiltrated into an IDF military recruit training base near Kibbutz Gal'ed in the Plain of Manasseh, and killed three Israeli soldiers with axes, knives, and a pitchfork, 1992.
  • Mikhail Popkov, a Russian policeman and a serial killer known as "Angarsk maniac", murdered 77 women and one man in the areas of Angarsk, Irkutsk and Vladivostok between 1992 and 2010. While killing people, he used axe along with other instruments and objects as a weapon. Popkov was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to life imprisonment twice in 2015 and 2018, respectively.
  • Simola croft massacre, the axe murders on May 10, 1899 in Klaukkala, Finland, when a croft family of seven was murdered by their farmworker Karl Malmelin.
  • Greenough Family Massacre, the axe murders of Karen MacKenzie, 31, and her three children, Daniel 16, Amara, 7, and Katrina, 5, at their remote rural property in Greenough, Western Australia, 400 km north of Perth, on 21 February 1993,[6] by William Patrick Mitchell, 1993.
  • Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani soldier who hacked to death and almost decapitated an Armenian soldier during a NATO partnership for peace training in Budapest. Hungary returned him to Azerbaijan in 2012, where he was immediately pardoned and given a hero's welcome, and causing an international incident.[7][8]
  • Anthony Walker, a black British student from Huyton, Liverpool, was murdered with an ice axe by Michael Barton and his cousin, Paul Taylor, in 2005.
  • South African rugby player Joseph Ntshongwana. Arrested in 2011 for allegedly hacking three men to death and wounding a fourth with an axe to avenge the gang-rape and subsequent HIV-infection of his daughter.[9]
  • Tyree Smith, alleged murderer and cannibal. Arrested in Connecticut in 2012 for murdering a homeless man with a hatchet and then eating parts of his body.[10]
  • Henri van Breda, convicted South African murderer. Authorities believe he killed his father, mother and older brother and attempted to kill his younger sister who survived the attack in January 2015.[11] Henri van Breda was found guilty of murder and attempted murder on the 21st of May 2018 by the Western Cape High Court.[12][13]
  • Arthur Bonifas and Mark Barrett, United States Army soldiers, were killed in the Korean Demilitarized Zone by North Korean forces by their own axes they were using to trim trees in what was called the Korean axe murder incident.
  • The Man from the Train, killed entire families in their sleep, arriving and departing by train. Alleged existence (and possible but far from proven identity) hypothesized over 100 years after the murders, by analysis of contemporary records, showing a supposedly common modus operandi for many unconnected murders.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Recker, Lynne. "VACELET family - Bians-les-Usiers, Doubs". Genealogy Forum. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  2. ^ "BRUTAL BUTCHERY, 1878. Vacelet Family Ax Murder Perhaps Knox County's Most Horrendous Crime". The Weekly Western Sun. Archived from the original on 3 September 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  3. ^ "RETRIBUTION. The Quadruple Murder of the Vacelet Family Avenged by the Accused Murderer's Own Hand". Weekly Western Sun. Archived from the original on 26 July 2008. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  4. ^ "The Meeks Family Murder". Murder by Gaslight. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  5. ^ "Jake Bird is hanged for the murder of two Tacoma women on July 15, 1949". HistoryLink. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  6. ^ Nicole Cox (19 May 2007). "Throw away the prison keys". Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Former South African rugby player accused of triple axe murder in Durban". London: Daily Mail. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  10. ^ Calhoun, S. Brady. "Police arrest accused cannibal Lynn Haven authorities say suspect brutally killed Connecticut man". Panama City, Florida, News Herald. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Van Breda killings: what happened that night". IOL. 2016-06-15. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  12. ^ "LIVE: See Henri van Breda's girlfriend leaving court in tears, alone". News24. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
  13. ^ "WATCH: Henri van Breda guilty of murder". Retrieved 2018-05-21.