Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: 1873 - 1875
Method of murder: Bludgeoning
Thomas Piper was the well-respected sexton at the Warren Avenue Baptist Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He was also a depraved sex slayer, prowling the streets after dark in his black opera cloak, looking for young girls to attack.
The first victim to fall prey to the killer was Bridget Landregan, attacked as she walked past a stand of dense bush on the night of December 5, 1873. Piper bludgeoned the young woman to death, and then tried to have sex with the corpse but was scared off by a passing couple. That same night he attacked another girl, although this time the victim survived.
Piper’s next two targets, however, would not be so lucky. His modus operandi remained the same, springing from cover to launch a surprise attack on the young victim, who he bludgeoned to death with a blunt object.
With the city now in uproar, the police launched a massive manhunt for the fiend. However, it would take a slip by the killer himself to eventually bring him to justice.
Five-year-old Mabel Hood Young was the daughter of a parishioner at Piper’s church. After her raped and beaten corpse was found hidden in the belfry of the building, Piper immediately fell under suspicion, as he had been seen with the girl shortly before she disappeared.
Once in custody, Piper quickly confessed to four murders, although he later retracted his confession only to admit it again on the gallows. He was executed by hanging on May 26, 1876.