The Villisca Ax Murder House
The Villisca Ax Murder House – Now With Overnight Accommodation!
In the early hours of June 10th, 1912, the small town of Villisca, Iowa experienced an event that would re-shape it forever. During the night, the Moore family and two house guests where brutally killed in their sleep by an ax welding murderer. The family and victims:
Josiah B. Moore (Age 49) Father
Sarah [née Montgomery] Moore (Age 39) Mother
Herman Montgomery Moore (Age 11) Child
Mary Katherine Moore (Age 10) Child
Arthur Boyd Moore (Age 7) Child
Paul Vernon Moore (Age 5) Child
Ina Mae Stillinger (Age 8) Child Guest
Lena Gertrude Stillinger (Age 12) Child Guest
The bodies were discovered the next morning when the Ross, the brother of Josiah, was called to the house after a neighbor reported the family had not come out to do their morning chores. Upon using his key and entering his brother’s home, he discovered the bodies.
Ross Moore immediately told Peckham to call Hank Horton, who was Villisca’s primary peace officer. Horton’s search of the house revealed that the entire Moore family and the two Stillinger girls had been bludgeoned to death with an ax that belonged to Josiah Moore. The ax was found in the guest room of the Stillinger sisters.
After a thorough investigation, the only clues to the murderer(s) was two cigarette buts which were found in the attic. This suggested that the murderer(s) patiently waited for the family and guests to fall asleep before striking.
Investigators say the murderer(s) began with Josiah and Sarah Moore in their master bedroom. Josiah received more blows from the ax than any of the other victims; his face had been attacked so much that his eyes were missing. The blade of the ax was used on Josiah while using the blunt end on the rest of the victims. The murderer(s) then proceeded to the children’s rooms and bludgeoned Boyd, Katherine, Herman, and Paul in the same manner as their parents. After killing the four Moore children, they returned to the master bedroom to deliver more blows to the parents, during which they knocked over a shoe that had filled with blood. Afterward, they moved downstairs to the guest bedroom and killed the Stillinger sisters. Investigators believed all the victims were asleep during the time of their murder except for Lena who had defensive wounds on her arm and was positioned across the bed. Her nightgown was pushed up to her waist and she was not wearing underwear, which led law enforcement to believe she was sexually assaulted or such an attempt was made. However, this was never confirmed and it could have been due to the struggle before her death.
Since the murders on the evening of 1912, there have been movies and books on the events which have captured audiences who were unaware of the brutal crime. Even psychics have claimed to have identified the murderer, while history and criminology enthusiasts have collected documents which they say points to the truth.
The small town was divided, and to a certain extent, still is. But, given that the crime occurred over a century ago, the true identity(ies) of The Villisca Ax Murder(er) will likely remain a mystery forever.
The house is said to be haunted with the ghosts of the eight victims and visitors have reportedly seen figures, experienced cold spots and other supernatural phenomena occurring. One returning visitor even calls the names of the victims and asked them to turn off their flashlight, to which the spirits cooperate with. So, if you’re one for a paranormal experience or just interested in the history of such a brutal crime, read on…
Want to visit the house? How about if you could spend the night?
Martha Linn runs everything from daylight tours to overnight accommodation in the property for people looking to explore the history of this dreadful crime after dark.
For history buffs, the faint-of-heart, schools or clubs, the Villisca Axe Murder House is open for daytime tours. Since opening the house to the public, the Linn’s have been hosts to school groups from across the midwest as well as individuals who just aren’t ready to tackle the house after dark.
Overnight tours are by reservation only and we suggest that you limit your group to ten or less. Any more than that and the small house gets even smaller. Bring your sleeping bags and pillows. If it’s spring or early fall, a blanket and heavy coat are a good idea.
The price for an individual daytime tour of the house is $10.00 per person, 12 and over, Children 7-11 are $5, and seniors, 65 and over, are $5. The price for an overnight visit is a minimum of $428.00 (includes sales tax) which allows for 1 to 6 guests. Each additional guest is an additional $74.90.
Would you spend a night in this haunted house where the lives of the Moore family and their guests were taken or are you already booking a tour and making travel plans? Let us know if you’re up for the adventure in the comments below…