The small Iowa town of Villisca is a quiet place with only 1,300 residents, so it’s small wonder that it’s still buzzing with tales of a gruesome incident that happened nearly a century ago. A whole family and two visiting children were murdered in one night. And the murders remain unsolved after all this time. And of course, the house where it happened is abuzz with reports of ghostly activity.
On June 10, 1912, Josiah B. Moore, five members of his family, and two children staying as guests, lay down to bed. They never saw the light of day again. Sometime between midnight and five in the morning, an intruder entered the house, closed the
curtains, and bludgeoned all eight in the head with an axe. Men, women, children––the killer was indiscriminate. At some point, he prepared a plate of food for himself, but it remained uneaten. And curiously, he removed a few slabs of bacon from the home’s freezer and placed them on the floor.
In a small town like Villisca in 1912, this was a life-changing event. Residents bought new locks, and new guns. They spread wild rumors about a shirtless man canoeing around in a local river. As a result, hoboes were arrested across all of Iowa and throughout neighboring states. A business competitor of Mr. Moore’s and a local priest were under suspicion, but never charged. A private detective agency investigated a man named William Mansfield so zealously that he sued and won more than $2,000. And the crimes remain unsolved to this day.
At this point, the likelihood of the Villisca Axe Murder ever being identified range from extraordinarily slim to none. But the memories of what happened here will never go away. And the spirits of those who were so brutally wronged, it seems, will never rest. In the years since the murders, dozens of people have reported having terrifying experiences there. The house is now a historic sight, and tours and overnight stays are offered, so these haunting reports will most likely continue well into the next century.
A Stay at the Axe Murder House
A few years ago, my girlfriend and I were watching some TV show about haunted places. A certain
episode was dedicated to a little town in Iowa called Villisca. This past summer we were roaming online and saw that this same house was also available for overnight stays. A few weeks later there we were there. During the night, we heard a few noises and bumps. One of us felt a little tug, and there were cold spots and hot spots throughout the house. At one point, something unseen pushed a ball across the room. We watched it spin in a complete circle and roll back. Even stranger was when we were packing up to leave the next morning, at about the time the family’s bodies were found. The front door was held shut with an old solid iron. Suddenly, it was as if someone had kicked the door open and in came a big gust of wind. It was quite an experience. I most definitely will do it again. –Manda
What Do You Expect in the “Axe Murder” House?
If you look in the windows, you can see some of the people who were murdered. Right after it happened, my boyfriend’s grandparents moved into the house, and were visited nightly by the spirits. They moved out right after this started happening. – Kylie