Before Vodun or Vodoun became an evil religion, they described the customs and beliefs of the ancestors of West Africa. Vodun, who was most closely associated with the Fon in modern Benin, seemed to be nothing less than devil worship for the first Europeans he met with his talk about spiritual possessions and examples of ecstatic worship. Although Francophone and Lusophone Voduns, as practiced in Haiti, Louisiana and Brazil, contain many Roman Catholic elements and testify to the veneration of Jesus and Mother Mary, "Voodoo" is still the epitome of diabolism.
See also: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Voodoo
This was particularly true around the turn of the century. At that time, voodoo was synonymous with the "barbaric" practices of deepest, darkest Africa and its descendants in the United States and the West Indies. Whenever strange murders occurred in New Orleans or in the Florida swamps, it was customary to blame Voodoo. This was especially true when the victims and perpetrators were black.
10 The first bloodshed
West of Lafayette, Louisiana is the city of Crowley. There, murder investigators found the bodies of Walter J. Byers, his wife and their young son on February 11, 1911. Judging from the evidence at the scene, the unknown attacker had entered the Byers' house from the back window of the nearby house. The other house was in the "colorful quarter" of the city. For the investigators, this meant one thing: the killer was black.
Bloodshed was not uncommon in Crowley, especially in the colored side of the city. However, this crime was different. The Byers family had been "hit with an ax". The killer was not only incredibly cruel, but also seemed brazen. He or she hadn't bothered to hide the murder weapon when the blood-spattered ax dripped on the floor of the Byers family house.
9 The Swing of the Ax
Less than two weeks later, on the morning of February 24, 1911, Nina Martin's usual morning routine was interrupted. Around 7:00 a.m., Nina and her home in Lafayette, Louisiana, were at a crime scene when her son, Lezimie Felix, stormed into the kitchen and said Nina's sister and brother-in-law had been murdered. Nina hurried to her sister's house and found a slaughterhouse: Alexandre Andrus and his wife Meme (some sources write Mimi) were found murdered together with their son Joachim and their daughter Agnes. Just like the Byers case, the murder weapon was an ax and was found at the foot of the family bed.
Four days later, the "Lafayette Advertiser" published a short article quoting deputy coroner Clark, who claimed that the deceased was "struck with an ax". The article contained other shocking facts, some of which were surely provided by Sheriff Louis LaCoste. The newspaper said that the Andrus family was killed while they were sleeping, probably shortly after midnight. Alexandre and Meme had been moved after death, and the killer had brought them to a kneeling position by the bed. Alexandre and Meme seemed to be praying.
Sheriff LaCoste and his men suspected that the killer of the Andrus family was also the killer of the Byers family. Better still, Sheriff LaCoste named her prime suspect – a recently fled madman named Garcon Godfry.
8 Murder Moves to Texas
The next murder occurred outside of Louisiana. On March 22, 1911, Louis Cassaway, his wife, and their three children suffered the same terrible fate as the Andrus and Byers families. They were also killed mercilessly with an ax.
Just as the murder of the Cassaway family seemed like previous crimes, there were some big differences that surprised the investigators. First of all, the Cassaway family lived in San Antonio, Texas (several sources say Beaumont, Texas). Second, one of the victims, Mrs. Cassaway, was white, even though all of the previous victims were black. This fact initially convinced the detectives that hatred of multiracial couples was at the root of this terrible crime.
After the murder of the Cassaways, Sheriff LaCoste had a new suspect in the form of Raymond Barnabet. Barnabet was a petty criminal and partner who lived in Lafayette. Raymond had a long rap sheet and was known to be in a good mood. The case against Raymond broke out wide when his lover turned to the police and told them that Raymond had confessed to having committed murders in one of their frequent quarrels.
7 Raymond Barnabet's Trial
In the fall of 1911, Raymond Barnabet was on trial in Louisiana for the murders of three entire families. Zepherin and Clementine Barnabet, Raymond's own children, testified against their father. While sitting at the witness stand, Clementine Barnabet told a vivid story of how her father came home full of blood one night. Zepherin supported this story and went a step further by claiming that Raymond had announced one night that he had "killed the whole damned Andrus family".
Then as now, it was extremely unusual for children to testify against their parents. However, Clementine and Zepherin justified their actions by claiming that they were afraid of their father. It was better for everyone if Raymond Barnabet, a lifelong criminal, was behind bars. In October 1911, a jury in Louisiana sentenced Raymond Barnabet to murder. This sentence would not last until the end of October, but Raymond would remain in custody until November 1911. He was released because another murder proved his innocence.
6 Further Murders
On October 27, 1911, Raymond Barnabet was granted a new trial. The reason for this decision was threefold: Raymond had been drunk during the previous trial, which jeopardized his testimony; The judge did not follow the judge's instructions during the consultation. and the prosecution had never bothered to offer a motive for the murders.
While Raymond was languishing in Parish Jail in the Lafayette, the police found a new crime scene in Lafayette. On November 27, 1911, the bodies of Norbert Randall, his wife Azema and the four children were murdered in their hut on Lafayette Street. 8-year-old Albert Sise, 6-year-old Renee Randall, 5-year-old Norbert Jr. and 2-year-old Agnes were beaten to death with the blunt side of an ax. Norbert had been shot in the head before he was struck with an ax. As usual, the murder weapon was found at the scene, although the police found that the ax had been partially washed.
5 Another guilty Barnabet
The terrible murders of the Randall family panicked the citizens of Lafayette. There were rumors that the Randall children had been mutilated by their killer. For this reason, well over 150 people met in the Good Hope Baptist Church in Lafayette. The meeting reminded citizens to sleep nearby with weapons. It also called for action from the police. The good, godly people of Lafayette thought that the police should look at other members of the Barnabet family.
When the police returned to the Barnabet family home in search of new evidence, they found several bloody clothing items from the 17-year-old Clementine. The specific objects of horror included a suit of women's clothing covered with blood and brain matter. Blood was also found on the door to Clementine's room.
Though few believed at the time that a 17-year-old woman could commit such cruel crimes, Clementine was arrested and detained in the same Lafayette prison as Raymond Barnabet.
4 Ritualistic murders?
While Raymond and Clementine Barnabet languished in prison, a murderer used a blood-hungry ax to wipe out another family. In January 1912, the Broussard family in Lake Charles, Louisiana – father Felix, his wife, and their three children – was attacked by an insane murderer. This crime scene was the most shocking of them all. It suggested not only that Louisiana was home to a crazy serial killer, but also a serial killer who apparently knew a thing or two about the occult.
The murdered Broussard children had been drained of blood in buckets they had left on their beds. A message written in blood was left on one of the walls of the house. It read: "If he makes the Inquisition for blood, he will not forget the cry of the humble". This inscription has been quoted from Psalm 9:12 in the King James Bible for decades. In the King James Bible, however, it actually says: "When he asks for blood, he remembers it: he does not forget the cry of the humble." The biblical quote at the Broussard crime scene comes from the novel "Uncle Toms Cabin" who originally misquoted the verse.
Other facts about the Broussard crime scene were soon sensitized by the regional media. The “El Paso Herald” in El Paso, Texas, described the murders as “victims” and found that the youngest victims had been found with spread fingers and paper and pins. The words "Human Five" were also found at the scene. The newspaper wasted little time blaming "voodoo worshipers" for the killings.
3 Clementine Barnabet, Voodoo Murderer
Although Clementine Barnabet was behind bars at the time of the Broussard family murders, she admitted to having participated in the murders. Clementine, whose behavior was considered strange by investigators and newspaper people alike, also claimed that she was responsible for more murders than the public knew. Clementine eventually confessed to participating in the murder of 35 people between 1911 and 1912. 17 of these victims are reported to have been murdered by Clementine himself.
After her admission, Clementine was examined by several doctors, most of whom concluded that she was perfectly healthy. Due to the severity of her crimes, Clementine was brought to the infamous Angola State Penitentiary near the Louisiana state capital Baton Rouge. On July 31, 1913, Clementine tried to escape from the prison, but was captured by officials the same day. For some reason this attempt to escape was forgotten and in 1918 Clementine was appointed a pipe cutter. This meant that Clementine was allowed to work outside with minimal observation. Five years later, on Saturday, August 28, 1923, Clementine Barnabet was allowed to leave Angola for years of good behavior.
The story of Clementine Barnabet remained a mystery until a few years ago. According to an internet user named "Voodoogalll", she visited her 103-year-old great-grandmother in 1985. Another woman joined during this visit, all of whom told them a story about a forgotten series of voodoo murders. The same year, after the death of the mysterious storyteller, "Voodoogalll" and other funeral participants noticed that a youthful picture of the woman matched newspaper photos of the serial killer Clementine Barnabet.
2 The Church of the Sacrifice
As part of her confession, Clementine Barnabet claimed that she belongs to a secret cult known as the Church of the Sacrifice. This cult and its mysterious "Human Five Gang" were said to be part of the Christ-sanctified Holy Church, an evangelical church led by a man named King Harrison. The church was found along the entire Southern Pacific Railroad, and, according to Clementine's admission, Harrison encouraged his community to use deadly discipline against willful members. Clementine said the Randalls were an example of such a relapse. In addition, Clementine informed the Louisiana authorities that she was a voodoo sorceress who enjoyed supernatural protection from punishment.
Sheriff LaCoste and other investigated Clementines allegations, but remained empty in almost all cases. District Attorney Howard E. Bruner, who classified Clementine as "morally perverse" because she admitted to "petting" some of the bodies after her death, believed that most of the murders that Clementine admitted were counterfeiting.
A few years later, in 1942, when the Federal Writers Project wrote down the history of the Clementine trial, they found that confusion was the only constant in this case. Indeed, since the newspapers had hinted that there was a cult of voodoo behind the murders, Clementine may have been influenced by such coverage and invented the Church of the Sacrifice as part of her confession. Tragically, after Clementine's story circulated in the southeast, many white citizens began to suspect that their black neighbors belonged to the murderous Church of Sacrifice. This belief led to a handful of violent encounters and false arrests.
1 The Man from the Train
In their 2017 book "The Man from the Train" the authors Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James put the case that it was a slimy German immigrant named Paul Mueller indeed the deadliest serial killer in American history. After the Newton family was murdered in Westbrook, Massachusetts in 1897, Bill and Rachel James believed that Mueller was on the railroads of America and Canada and murdered entire families. His death toll was around 90. In Mueller's crimes, he almost always broke into apartments after midnight and murdered all inmates with the blunt side of an ax. Müller also had a habit of leaving his murder weapons at the scene.
Although Bill and Rachel James accept that Clementine Barnabet has confessed to having committed multiple murders, they are convinced that most, if not all, of the crimes associated with Clementine Barnabet are actually from Mueller, aka the man on the train , were committed.