By Joe Wyatt

A series of ritualistic slayings ignited a firestorm of panic that engulfed Austin, Texas in 1885, yet this lurid chapter in the city's history was largely forgotten until a historic thriller titled The Midnight Assassin hit bookstores in 2016.

Amarillo College is pleased to announce that Skip Hollandsworth, whose long-researched tome about America's first known serial killer became a New York Times bestseller, will present the 2022 Creative Mind Lecture.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 5 at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts.

Additionally, a meet-the-author reception - the cost for this is $25 per person - begins at 6:30 p.m. and includes reserved seating for the ensuing lecture. Those wishing to attend the reception are asked to RSVP to the AC Foundation at 806-371-5924 or srleuthen@actx.edu.

Hollandsworth is a longtime writer and executive editor at Texas Monthly magazine. He spent 10 years researching The Midnight Assassin, which is the moniker 19th century Austinites assigned to the shadowy murderer.

"This is a piece of American history that literally slipped through the cracks," Hollandsworth said, "but it's worth writing about every bit as much as people have written about London's Jack the Ripper. Essentially, we had our own Jack the Ripper three years before London had theirs, and ours was called the Midnight Assassin.

"In fact, he said, "there was widespread speculation at the time that the Austin killer actually moved to England and became Jack the Ripper. It's quite an interesting story, but one that wasn't particularly well documented. It was not easily unearthed."

Hollandsworth is a four-time finalist and one-time winner of the National Magazine Award in feature writing - the magazine industry's equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Additionally, he is co-writer of the Richard Linklater film Bernie.

Of local interest, Hollandsworth wrote a story for Texas Monthly about Tom Brown, a high school student who went missing in 2016 in Canadian, Texas. He additionally produced an eight-episode podcast on the topic titled "Tom Browns Body."

The New York Times described The Midnight Assassin as "true crime of high quality," and chilling." The Wall Street Journal dubbed it a "thoroughly researched, excitingly written history" and an "absorbing work."

Also on May 5, Hollandsworth will present a master class and take questions on everything from journalism and writing to publishing and true crime. All AC students are welcome to attend the master class at 1 p.m. in Badger Corner of the College Union Building on the Washington Street Campus.

"We're very excited to have Skip Hollandworth here, both as a lecturer and presenter of a master class for our students," Eric Fauss, chair of AC's Creative Mind Lecture Series, said. "Skip is a noted author who we definitely believe will be a crowd-pleaser, and his topic is very much in the spirit of Creative Minds."