The Most Notorious Serial Killers From Texas

Throughout its history, the state of Texas has been home to some of the most notorious serial killers in the US. Going back as far as the 1880s with the Servant Girl Annihilator and reaching up to more recent cases such as Genene Jones, better known as the Angel of Death, serial killers have made their mark across the state.

While many have been apprehended by law enforcement, the identities of some of these murderers remain a mystery more than a century later. In the list below, we'll look at 17 of the most infamous Texas serial killers and their crimes.


  • The Servant Girl Annihilator

    The Servant Girl Annihilator
    Video: YouTube

    The Servant Girl Annihilator (AKA the Austin Axe Murderer) was an unidentified serial killer who terrorized Austin,TX, throughout 1885. Of his eight victims, five were African American women employed as domestic servants. The killer attacked his victims with an axe while they were asleep, then sexually assaulted them.

    Some theorists believe 19-year-old Nathan Elgin committed the murders, while others believe the Annihilator moved to London and became Jack the Ripper.

  • Joe Ball: The Butcher of Elmendorf
    Video: YouTube

    Joe Ball was a 1930s bootlegger who is believed to have killed between two and 20 women. In Elmendorf, TX, he opened a saloon and built a pond that contained five alligators to which he fed live animals. When deputies began questioning Ball about the recent disappearances of several women, he shot himself with a pistol.

    Over time, Ball has become part of Texas folklore, and many details of his life and crimes are still unknown.

  • The Phantom Killer
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In the spring of 1946 in Texarkana, TX, the Phantom Killer murdered five people and injured three others during a 10-week period. The cases, often referred to as the “Texarkana Moonlight Murders,” involved shooting young couples who parked their cars on secluded lovers' lanes late at night.

    The first couple survived the attack and described the assailant as wearing a white sack with holes cut out for his eyes. To this day, the Phantom Killer's identity is still unknown.

  • Kenneth McDuff: The Broomstick Killer
    Video: YouTube

    In 1966, Kenneth McDuff and Roy Dale Green abducted and murdered a group of teenagers, shooting the two boys and sexually assaulting the girl before strangling her with a broomstick. After serving time in prison, McDuff was paroled in 1989 and proceeded to murder at least five more women.

    McDuff was eventually caught and convicted, and on November 18, 1998, he was executed via lethal injection.

  • Johnny J. E. Meadows

    Johnny Meadows was an active serial killer between 1968 and 1971 in Odessa, TX. Though his exact victim count remains unknown, he is generally believed to have abducted and killed four women.

    In 1972, he was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the murder of Gloria Sue Nix Green.

  • Carroll Cole
    Video: YouTube

    At the age of 8, Carroll Cole committed his first murder when he drowned a classmate in a lake. As an adult, he murdered at least 13 women in Nevada, California, and Texas in the early 1970s. Cole reportedly met his victims at taverns, then strangled them.

    In 1981, he was convicted of three murders in Dallas and issued a life sentence. Three years later, in Nevada, he was tried for killing two other women and sentenced to death. On December 6, 1985, Cole was executed via lethal injection.