An owl alit on a balcony rail her sharp eyes taking in the grizzly scene below. The growing police presence took no notice of their visitor, the dead Eula Phillips commanded their attention. The murder was still fresh with only a small crowd of spectators to gawk at the brutality of the crime. More would arrive just as they had at Susan Hancock’s house. They would weep and wail and cry out to a silent god how could such a tragedy occur on the eve of his divine son’s birth. What kind of monster killed on Christmas?
In truth, these women were not the first victims but to the officers beneath her, they were the first ones that mattered. Mollie Smith, Clara Strand, Christine Martenson, Eliza Shelly, Irene Cross, Clara Dick, Mary Ramey, and Susan Hancock all suffered equally cruel fates. The difference? They were poor, immigrants, or worst of all they were black. Their deaths were an oddity, sensational, but did not cause the same outpouring of concern that the owl saw now. These people couldn’t empathize with the victims before today. True they were fellow humans, but not shall we say of the same caliber or breeding.
The owl understood all too well. Were she to die in such a manner only her Society brothers and sisters would care. Her human skin would make sure of that. Old prejudices against a backdrop of something new and terrible.
The year was 1885 and a killer was loose in Austin. The owl’s hunt continues.
Her golden eyes watched with silent patience, waiting for her moment. She chose well. The officers were forming a ring around the body to preserve what was left of Mrs. Phillips's modesty. The owl land without a sound. A broken face stared back at her; brains splattered over the bruised skin. The back of the skull had been caved in just like the others, presumably with an ax. That had been the end of Phillips's suffering, the blood staining the bottom of the victim’s dress needed no interpretation.
The owl could see this from her perch, she came this close to confirm one last abnormality. She hopped over to see the dead woman’s ears and found what she was looking for. Something sharp had been so violently inserted into Mrs. Phillips’ ear that the owl could see moonlight through the other end. It was the detail that baffled the human investigators. Sad to say the ax, the rape, the murder they could understand but why stab the victims through the ear? The owl couldn’t explain it either, yet. This riddle wasn’t what drove her to examine the dead Mrs. Phillips. NO, she hoped that the killer left something behind.
There! A stiff black bristle was lodged deep within the wound. It did not belong and with luck, it would lead her to her quarry. She reached in with her sharp beak to pluck the bristle out.
“Shit! Get away from her!” The owl expertly dodged a kick from one of the officers. She had what she needed and flew to safety.
“What was that?” Asked the officer’s partner, watching in awe as the winged shadow passed over the moon,
“An owl, I think, but I have never seen one that big before!”