The Gruesome, Terrifying Tale of Lafayette Serial Axe Murderer Clementine Barnabet [Video]
There is a little-known slice out of Lafayette and Acadiana's history that is so horrifying and gruesome, it makes the Charles Manson murders seem like The Mickey Mouse Club...seriously.
Lafayette serial killer Clementine Barnabet is believed to have violently murdered "at least" 35 people in the Acadiana area and Texas, but that's only a small part of her gruesome, terrifying local legacy.
Clementine Barnabet was born in St. Martinville in 1884 to Nina Porter and Raymond Barnabet. The Barnabet family of seven moved to Lafayette in 1909 according to wikipedia.com.
Shortly after the Barnabets moved to Lafayette, a string of gruesome murders began in the Acadiana area.
Not only in Acadiana, but in East Texas as well.
All of the towns where the murders took place shared a commonality of being located along the Southern Pacific railroad line.
From wikipedia.com -
"Between 1911 and 1912, in towns along the Southern Pacific railroad line running through Louisiana and Texas, a minimum of twelve African-American families were murdered in their homes."
Location wasn't the only common thread authorities discovered investigating the murders. Reports show that all the murders occurred at night, and in every instance, an axe was used to fracture the skulls of the victims.
In some of the murders, authorities found buckets left at the scene that had been used to collect the victim's blood.
To make matters even more tragic, the murders, often referred to as "The Midnight Axe Murders", wiped out entire families. Parents, children, even newborn babies were heartlessly, gruesomely slaughtered with an axe.
Even more bizarre, in the investigation of the Broussard family of five killings in Lake Charles, authorities found the three children's fingers had been spread and held open with pieces of wood.
They also found a bible verse written in blood on a wall inside the home.
But, who could be responsible for such vile and violent murders?
According to nydailynews.com "all the victims were mutilated. 'Heads and limbs would be separated from the torso and strewn all over the house,' reported the International News Service."
In all, Barnabet was responsible for 20 victims right here in Acadiana and South Louisiana.
Feb. 11, 1910: Lake Charles. Minnie Hodge and her daughter were killed. The Hodges lived two blocks from the house where the Broussards would be killed two years later.
September [?], 1910: Rayne. Wexford family of three killed.
Jan. 26, 1911: Crowley. Byers family murdered. Three victims.
Feb. 24, 1911: Lafayette. Andrus family murdered. Four victims.
Nov. 27, 1911: Lafayette. Randall family murdered. Five victims.
Jan. 19, 1912: Crowley. Marie Warner and her three children murdered.
Jan. 22, 1912: Lake Charles. Broussard family murdered.
In 1911, Clementine Barnabet's father, Raymond Barnabet was arrested for the murder of the Andrus family in Lafayette.
Raymond Barnabet "was released for insufficient evidence, but re-arrested months later and ultimately convicted of the Andrus murders" according to wikipedia.com.
Clementine, only 17 at the time, and her brother Zepherin reportedly testified against their father Raymond Barbanet "claiming he had returned home with bloodied clothes and boasting of the Andrus murders."
While Raymond was in prison, Norbert and Asima Randall and their four children were murdered in Lafayette, all six killed with an axe in a similar fashion to how the Andrus family was murdered.
Obviously, Raymond Barnabet couldn't have done it. He was in prison.
(Below is the Randall family home in Lafayette where they were murdered)
After becoming the prime suspects in the Randall family murders, Clementine and her brother Zepherinn were taken into custody.
While both were in police custody, the savage axe murders continued in Acadiana, leading authorities to question their involvement in the Randall murders.
In 1912 while attending a service at Christ's Sanctified Holy Church in Lake Charles, Clementine Barnabet confessed to 17 murders.
Eventually, Barnabet would confess to an additional 18 murders, bringing the total number to 35.
Just when it seemed like this story couldn't get any more sinister, it does.
From Wikipedia.com -
Clementine further claimed that a priestess of the Church of Sacrifice had given her and her friends 'conjure bags' (a good luck charm found in Hoodoo) that would grant them supernatural powers and make them undetectable to the authorities.
This hoodoo time spurred Barnabet into committing her first murder to test whether or not the claim of magical protection was true.
"The Human Five" carried out their savage killings in hopes of gaining immortality.
In October 1912, Clementine Barnabet was sentenced to life in Angola. She even briefly escaped in 1913 but was quickly captured and returned to prison.
Believe it or not, this story still has another strange, disturbing twist.
After serving only 10 years in prison at Angola, Clementine Barnabet was released.
Apparently, Barnabet was released from prison after undergoing an unspecified surgical operation that was believed to have cured her.
The idea that Barnabet was subjected to a lobotomy has been brought up through the years, but that procedure was not known in the U.S. for another decade after her release.
Some also speculate that she was released from prison because authorities didn't believe her confession and felt she had nothing to do with the grisly murders.
After her release from prison, Clementine Barnabet, only 28 years old at the time, seemingly vanished.
There are no records that show Clementine existed after her release in 1922.
No census records, employment records, bank or land documents...nothing.
Remember when Clementine told authorities about her voodoo conjure bags that gave her "supernatural powers" and made her "undetectable to the authorities"?
Clementine was only arrested for the murders because she confessed to them, not because the police "caught her".
(Below is a photo of Clementine Barnabet)
There are quite a few websites where you can read more about this truly bizarre, terrifying story.