Midnight Axe Murders

The Killings of Clementine Barnabet

Hide your axe.

1909 marks the beginning of a fearful time for many negro families in southern Louisiana. This was the time of a murder rampage where families of five were targeted and slaughtered in the middle of the night. The weapon was always the same: an axe. However, the murderer never used the same axe twice because they would always use the axe of that belonged to the family they would kill.

While the family was asleep, the murderer would locate and take family axe then break into the victims’ home. Once inside, they would proceed to kill everyone in the house. Entire families were taken out all at once. Many of the murders are attributed to a young lady named Clementine Barnabet. On November 26th in 1911, Clementine targeted the Randall family in Lafayette. She claimed six lives that night. In April of 1912, Clementine confessed to killing a total of 17 people and in October, at the age of 19, Clementine was sent to Angola.

It is now known that Clementine was not the only one who was committing these crimes because the axe murders continued even after she was thrown into jail. It is believed that Clementine was a part of a group called “The Human Five,” which was derived from the Church of Sacrifice. Police officials were never able to find the rest of the axe murder group. Eventually the family killings died out but the identity of the remaining group members, may never be discovered.

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Legend has it that Clementine lived in the 500 block of Madison Street in Lafayette, Louisiana. The Lafayette killings are thought to have occurred in houses, no longer standing, near where Madison St. and Lafayette St. would have crossed the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. These streets no longer extend that far.