In 2007, Martin Wagner, a UT alumnus who has been working professionally in film and television production since 2002, discovered the Servant Girl Annihilator murders and was immediately inspired to pursue the story of these crimes as his first effort as director.
In 1885, a person or persons unknown murdered nine people, most of whom were African-American servant girls and cooks, throughout the city of Austin. The population of the city at that time was 17,000 people, and the current Texas Capital building was under construction. To this day, the crimes remain officially unsolved, though several crime buffs have concocted numerous theories as to the killer’s identity and motive.
“I knew that the material was here for an amazing film,” says Wagner. “And yet I decided that I wanted my project to be as historically accurate as possible, cutting through the layers of mythology that have built up around the killings.”
Wagner says he has encountered people who have lived in Austin all their lives who have never heard of the murders. “They are very much obscure. You might say that Jack the Ripper, three years later, stole all the thunder.”
The project is currently pursuing funds through Kickstarter, and Wagner plans to be in production throughout 2013.
Bloody Work: Filmmaker’s Statement of Intent
Who: Bloody Work: The Unsolved Mystery of the Servant Girl Annihilator
What: Documentary film currently pursuing funding on Kickstarter
When: Now until February 18, 2013
Where: Austin, Texas
Why: To be the first comprehensive historical account of a forgotten true crime