The Haunting Of The Villisca Ax Murder House, Iowa


Can homes take on the residual evil leftover from the events that happened within their walls? Many believe this to be possible, and also believe it to be the reason that ghosts haunt them.

This apparently seems to be the case with a nondescript old white frame home that sits on a quiet residential street in the small Iowa town of Villisca. The reason for the strange and frightening occurrences in the home is due to what happened on the night of June 10, 1912, when six members of the Moore family and two other children, who were visiting, were killed in what remains the state’s worst mass murder.

All eight victims, which included six children, had severe head wounds caused by an ax. Even though a lengthy investigation yielded several suspects, one of whom was tried twice and acquitted, the crime remains unsolved.

The killer or killers patiently waited in the attic of the home until the Moore family and guests came home from a “Children’s Day Program” at the Presbyterian church in town and fell sound asleep.

The Moore parents, Josiah and Sarah, were the first to be killed. Josiah received more blows from the ax than any other victim; his face had been cut so badly that his eyes were missing. The killer used the blade of the ax on Josiah while using the blunt end on the rest of the victims.

Next, the killer went into the children’s rooms and bludgeoned Herman, Katherine, Boyd and Paul Moore in the head in the same manner as their parents. Then the killer proceeded down the stairs, to the guest bedroom, and killed Ina and Lena Stillinger, the guests who were spending the night.

Over time, many possible suspects emerged, including Reverend George Kelly, Frank F. Jones, William Mansfield, Loving Mitchell, and Henry Lee Moore. George Kelly was tried twice for the murder. The first trial ended in a hung jury, while the second trial ended in an acquittal. Other suspects in the investigation were also exonerated.

Ever since the Moore house was opened to tourists, several years ago, ghost enthusiasts, curiosity-seekers and paranormal investigators have come to the house, some spending the night, all seeking ghostly sightings.

Some stayed alone, like the Des Moines disk jockey who claims to have awoken in the middle of the night to the sound of children’s voices when there weren’t any children present. Others have gone in groups and have left with mysterious audio, video and photographic evidence that suggests something supernatural lurks within the walls of the house.

Tours in the house have been cut short by falling lamps, moving objects, banging sounds and a child’s laughter, while psychics who have been in the house claimed to communicate with the spirits of the dead.

It is believed that sometimes evil can be so powerful that remnants of it will be left behind. This is never more obvious than in a place where such a vicious and evil massacre has happened, as in the case of the Villisca Ax Murder House.

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