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 other guests where brutally killed in their sleep by an ax welding murderer. The family and victims were:
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 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.
Moore immediately requested the neighbor 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 had belonged to Josiah Moore, which was found in the guest room where the sisters were staying.
After a thorough investigation, the only clues to the murderer(s) were 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, in the now famous Villasca Ax Murder House, 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, but the case is still unsolved.
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 Murderer(s) will likely remain a mystery forever.
The house is said to be haunted with the ghosts of the eight victims and visitors have reportedly seeing figures, experiencing cold spots and other supernatural phenomena. One returning visitor even calls the names of the victims and asked them to turn off their flashlight, to which the spirits cooperate with.
Visit the official site for the Villisca Ax Murder House tours
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.
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…