Feature Texas Servant Girl Murders: Autopsy Report for Susan Hancock, 1885

1885 autopsy report for Susan Hancock, one of the last victims of the Austin Servant Girl Murders

Texas Servant Girl Murders: Autopsy Report for Susan Hancock, 1885

On December 24, 1885, Susan Hancock was brutally murdered in Austin, Texas. The following report is from an autopsy of her body, performed on December 28 by Dr. W. J. Burt. A transcript is below the images, and you can learn more about the Texas Servant Girl Murders in episode three of History Detectives Special Investigations.

 

Transcript:

Austin, Texas, Dec 29th 1885

On the 28th at 9 o’clock p.m. in the city of Austin and about 2 ½ hours after death we held an autopsy on the body of Mrs. Susan Hancock. 

The examination develops three wounds on her head as follows:

One, cutting through the upper part of the left ear, through the soft tissues and fracturing the squamous portion of the left temporal bone.

One, about one inch above and to the left of the left eye, making an external wound about 1 ½ inches long in a horizontal direction. This wound penetrates the soft tissues and the instrument used fractures the left parietal, the frontal, sphenoid and squamous portion of the temporal bones at their articulations (one with the other); this fracture and the first one described made one fracture, both running together, the bones being broken and […] for a space of 3 inches by one to 1 ½ inches. These broken pieces were forced into the brain substance, tearing the membranes and brain, involving mostly the left middle lobe of the brain. The brain for two or more inches (around the fracture) was filled with clotted blood in a state of partial decomposition.

The other would was in the right ear and done by a sharp jointed instrument piercing through the auditory canal and through the bones fracturing them and penetrating the brain for two more inches. The wounds on the left side were made by an ax, a hatchet, a smoothing iron or some such instrument. 

No other wounds were discovered. These wounds were the cause of her death.

W. J. Burt, M.D.


Source: District Clerk Records, Travis County Archives