Villisca, Iowa is a tiny town nestled in the southwest corner of the state. Unexpected among the peaceful cornfields and quiet streets sits a home where murder and terror have set up residence. The Villisca Murder House was the site of the most horrific unsolved crimes in Iowa history.
In 1912, the Moore family and their young house guests, the Stillinger sisters, were found gruesomely ax-murdered in their locked home when a neighbor, concerned that the chickens weren’t being fed, called a relative in town to unlock the door the morning of Monday, June 10th, 1912. Josiah Moore, the father and head of the family was found so badly cut that his eyes were missing. Though neither his wife, their four children, nor the two young sisters staying with the Moores were cut by the blade of the ax, all of them were bludgeoned to death, presumably with the ax handle. It is even suspected that one of the house guests, Lena Stillinger, was sexually assaulted before she was murdered.
The crime scene was closed off and seemed planned. Cigarette butts were found in the attic, indicating that the killer or killers had hidden away to wait for the family to return from church. Evidence was also found that the killer(s) were hidden in the closet in the childrens’ room. The faces of all of the victims were covered, and all of the curtains in the house were drawn; windows without curtains were covered with pieces of the Moores’ clothing. Josiah Moore’s own ax was the murder weapon.
The crime scene would be considered sloppy by today’s forensic standards, but 1912 crime science was far less sophisticated. In the course of the investigation that ensued, multiple suspects were investigated and brought to trial, but the murders remain unsolved.
The Villisca Ax Murder House was renovated and restored, and it stands now as a preserved glimpse into the world of the slaughtered family. The antique furnishings have been arranged to mirror the home on the night of the murders, based on testimony and records from the investigation and trials, make the many visitors and paranormal investigators feel closer to that fateful night in 1912.
Haunted tours show the house in the safety of daylight, but even those have been interrupted by falling objects, pounding noises, and the sound of children’s laughter. Psychics often claim to communicate with the spirits of the Moores and the Stillinger sisters. Orbs and shadows appear in photographs, and paranormal investigators have recorded EVP of voices and children’s laughter too.
In 2014, one visiting investigator named Robert Laursen stabbed himself in the middle of the night. Laursen had come with friends to experience the energy and haunting of the famed Villisca House. The local Sheriff was interviewed and said,
“From my understanding he was alone in the northwest bedroom, and the rest of the party was outside, and he called for help on their mobile, two-way radios.”
Would you be brave enough to sleep among the tortured spirits trapped in the Villisca Ax Murder House?