Villisca Axe Murder House: The most haunted house in the midwest


Villisca was a normal midwest Iowa town until June 10th, 1912 when the unspeakable happened and shook the town to the core. That horrific night, the Moore family and two neighbor girls who were visiting were axed to death still to this day, by an unknown killer. 112 years later, the unsolved murders remain a part of Villisca’s past that continues to haunt its future. I have been to this location and that night still haunts me to my core every day. This house has been featured on many of the paranormal related shows like Dead Files, Destination Fear, Kindred Spirits and so many other shows.

On June 9th, 1910, it was just a normal Sunday for the Moore family who was well
respected in the city of Villisca Iowa. They had lived their normal activities that day, then in the evening went to the local church that night which they often did. The Moore family consisted of the following family members: Josiah B. Moore, Sarah Moore, Herman (11 years old at death), Katherine (10 years old at death), Boyd (7 years old at death), and Paul (5 years old at death). Lena (12 years old) and Ina Stillinger (8 years old) were two neighborhood girls who were friends with the Moore children and were staying overnight after attending church activities with the family.

The children (both Moore and Stillinger children) took part in the day program at the local
Presbysterian church which was an annual event which Sarah helped coordinate, that program started around 8 p.m. and ended around 9:30 p.m. After the program, the family and the Stillinger girls walked back together to the Moore family house and arrived home between 9:45 p.m. and 10 p.m. The rest of the night was normal according to their neighbor Mary Peckman.

Mary Peckman, a neighbor to the Moore family, was the first person to notice that something wasn’t right that morning of June 10th. By 7 a.m. the family was usually up, the
children playing outside and starting their chores for the day but on this day the house she said was unusually still. She decided to go over and make sure everything was okay, when she had no one respond to her knocking she called Josiah’s brother Ross Moore to come over to thehouse. Ross arrived shortly after the call, he tried to knock on the lower level windows to try to wake up the family. After failed tempts, he finally found the key to the house and thats when he found the Stillinger girls lifeless murdered bodies in the main floor bedroom. He at that point he had Mary Peckman called the city police, who went entered the house found the rest of the family murdered in the bedrooms upstairs of the house.

In this small town, news traveled super fast and the town started to arrive at the house,
which at this rate the police could not control the crowds and the people entered the house
looking at the murders that happened. Around noon the Villisca National Guard arrived to block off the house to the people of the house. This invasion of people of the town was one reason the police could get any evidence from anything in the house or the victims. All the victims faces, all mirrors, windows were covered by the murderer. The ax was left in the first floor bedroom but it also looked like the killer was trying to wipe clean of any blood or evidence. There were several lamps found near the bodies as well since there was no electricity at that time. Lena was said to be the only victim that tried to fight back when the murderer was in the lower bedroom. It is believed that the killer was either waiting in the attic of the house for the family to return home or entered the house and killed the family and the neighbor girls between midnight and 5am on June 10th 1912. The police also found bacon throughout the house that was partially eaten.

To this date, this murder is still unsolved as for who did this horrible crime to this family
and the two neighbor kids. Two suspects that were thought of doing the murders (even to this date) were Reverend George Kelly and Frank F. Jones. Reverend George Kelly who was a traveling preacher, attended the church activities before the murder happened.Its said he disappeared the town the next day without any notice which made him a prime suspect to the murders. Frank F. Jones was Josiah’s boss at the Jones store before opening his own business in the town. Frank was known to be very upset about this. It is believed that Frank hired a man, William Mansfield to complete the murder of Josiah and the family. William is believed to had killed multiple people before and after the Moore Family murders. All the murders that he believed to have done have similarities with each of them. Many other people were brought in for questioning but all were released due to no hard evidence.

For many years the house has had a history of being haunted. The paranormal claims of
this small 3 bedroom house in the small town of Villisca include: shadows, apparitions, voices, moving of items, to just feeling of being watched all the time. I had the chance to go investigate this historic and haunted house in the summer of 2012 with some friends. When we got to Villisca it was a nice and sunny summer day. We met up with Johnny Houser, who runs the tours and investigations at the house at the museum that was of the house in town, then we moved to the cemetery where the family and the Stillinger girls are buried to pay our respects. Then we finally arrived at the house, still a good looking day, maybe a few dark clouds, nothing that was warning us of what was going to happen shortly after arriving.

Johnny Houser gave us the tour of the house, and after he left us for the night. We
started to set up equipment throughout the house. Char Savoie ( and I went up to the attic. While in the attic we both heard our names being said in our ears, which we both heard. Shortly after when everyone was in the parlor outside of the bottom floor bedroom, we started to hear ping ping ping and noticed it started to rain which fastly turned into quarter plus size hail. Within seconds we had windows breaking and flying into the house. We all ran into the kitchen to look out the screen door, the hail continued to smash the original windows in the house on the one side of the house. I remember calling Johnny and he not believing what I was saying because he was in the town over and it wasn’t raining or anything. We all were freaked out because there were 8 of us and 8 people killed in the house, we had no idea what we got ourselves into. It finally died down and we went to the barn in the yard to wait for Johnny to arrive to cover the windows so we could continue our investigation. When waiting for him to arrive we caught a lot of our evidence when the house was empty. During that time our recorders had captured the most shocking and chilling EVP during that time of what sounds like one of the girls getting attacked and her screaming and the murderer (click here to hear the EVPs from that night). We experienced activity that was believed to be the children playing with the balls we brought in the first floor bedroom because many of
us didn’t want to return to the second floor. Johnny still calls that night the worst thing to happen to the house since the murders. I haven’t been back to the house since that night but I do plan to return to face what is in that house again.

If you are into the paranormal, and are strong enough mentally, emotionally and physically I suggest getting a small group of friends and renting the house one night to see this place for yourself. If you do go, tell Johnny I say hello. You never know you might see me there.


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