Villisca Axe Murders

What were the Axe Murders?

Occurring between June 10, 1912 and the following morning on June 11, it is still one of most famous murder cases today that occurred in the town of Villisca, Iowa. Six members of the Moore family, along with two house guests, were found to have been brutally murdered with severe head wounds from an axe. A long investigation with several suspects—one was tried twice—and two trials later—hung jury and the other acquittal—the crime remains unsolved.

Article from The Day Book, Chicago June 14, 1912

Suspects (Not the Murderer)

Andrew Sawyer, Reverend George Kelly, Frank F. Jones, William Mansfield, Henry Lee Moore (no relation), and Sam Moyer


Josiah B (father/husband), Sarah (mother/wife), Herman Montgomery (age 11), Mary Katherine (age 10), Arthur Boyd (age 7), Paul Vernon (age 5). Along with Ian Mae and Lena Gertrude Stillinger (guests)

Murder Details

The evening of June 10, the girls (Ian Mae and Lena) that visited the Moore family—along with the family—attended the Presbyterian Church where they took part in the Children’s Day Program as Sarah (wife/mother) had coordinated. After, the family and the Stillinger sisters walked back to the Moore home, arriving between nine and ten that night. The following morning, a neighbor of the Moore’s—Mary Peckham—grew very concerned for the family when they hadn’t yet come out to do their morning chores. Upon trying to knock without a response, she attempted to open the door but only to find it locked. She let their chickens out and called Ross Moore (brother of Josiah) He tried to get the family’s attention by knocking and shouting but to no avail. When he unlocked the house door with the spare key he possessed, a grisly, disturbing scene was unfolded before them. The Stellinger sister’s bodies were on the guest bedroom bed, axe (which had belonged to Josiah) in the room with them. Upon Ross’s further search, he discovered the family had also been bludgeoned to death…
With further investigation, it was concluded that due to the used cigarettes found in the attic, that the murderer was waiting in the attic. He started in the master bedroom and left Josiah with more infliction than any of the others.

With such a chilling and haunting and history, it’s no wonder as to why there is speculation and rumors of the home being haunted. The home has been investigated by the Ghost Adventures Crew (Season 4, Episode 13) and by Amy Bruni and Adam Berry of Kindred Spirits. Both Amy and Adam received some aggressive EVPs when they tried making contact with the murderer by provoking… upon watching both episodes of both shows and learning that most people find both audio and visual evidence, I find it undeniable that the murderer and the victims still reside in the home.

What are your thoughts on the Villisca Axe Murders? Have you ever been to the location and/or experienced paranormal activity? Let me know in the comments below! Thank you for reading!


Main Article Photo by Megan of Atlas Obscura, Links down below

Disclaimer: The information above is a combination of prior knowledge and research. No works were plagiarized, only referenced as a source of information. While anyone is welcome to comment, I attempt to make this a positive and friendly community where we can share our experiences. Any derogatory or negative comment(s) will be deleted. As always, reader discretion is advised.

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