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Villisca Axe Murder House

Updated on June 19, 2013

June 9, 1912: The day started out as it normally would have for the Moore’s, breakfast and they did their chores, but there was also an underlying excitement for the entire family as Sarah Moore, mother to the four Moore children had helped coordinate a special program at their church that night. The children in their excitement had asked if their neighbors Ina and Lena could also spend the night making it an extraordinary treat. The family including the two neighbors attended the program at the Presbyterian Church and would walk home afterwards arriving home between 9:30 and 10 pm; they would all be found murdered by 7am on June 10th 1912.

Josiah aged 43, Sarah aged 39, Herman aged 11, Katherine aged 10, Boyd aged 7, and Paul Moore aged 5 along with Lena aged 12 and Ina Stillinger aged 8 were all found dead in their respective beds on the morning of June 10th, 1912 by Josiah’s brother, Ross, after being alerted by a neighbor. It is believed that the killer was already inside the home when the family returned from church and that he was hiding out in the attic waiting for the family to fall asleep so he could begin his bloody deed. It was determined by the local coroner that the murders took place after Midnight and that Josiah was the recipient of the most wounds as his face was cut so badly and so many times that his eyes were missing.


It is speculated that once he had killed Josiah and Sarah he then moved onto the children’s room and in the same manner as their parents they were all bludgeoned in the head with an axe (Josiah’s own axe). Then the killer made his way down to the guest bedroom where Lena and Ina Stillinger slept, it is believed however that Lena was the only one of the eight victims to fight back. While all the others were laid out in their beds as they would have been when sleeping Lena was found crosswise on the bed with a defensive wound upon her arm and her nightdress hiked to her hips with no undergarments. There were no signs of molestation.

The murderous tale does not lack for suspects with motives to kill, and indeed one of the suspects went on to kill members of his own family with an axe, supposedly. Another odd note about the killer is that he apparently did not want to see himself as he covered every mirror in the house. One man was even tried twice, once resulted in a hung jury and the other an acquittal, no one was ever convicted of the brutal murders of eight people on June 9, 1912 in Villisca, Iowa.

It is said that the children seem to have hung around along with a darker presence. The children’s voices have been heard on voice recorders saying their names or some other bit of news. Balls and other objects have been known to move of their own accord; doors have been caught on film slamming, sounds seem to come from all over the house. Shadows have been caught dancing around the house from room to room, whether these are the children playing a game of hide and seek or something more dark is not known.

Even a bit scary to me was when the Ghost Adventures crew did their investigation and actually captured an EVP that stated,” I killed six kids.” Now that would make a few people re-think the idea of going to the Villisca Axe Murder House, although there have been numerous over-night stays and many more investigations there have never been any reports of anyone being injured or harmed by the spirits within. The children have been caught on EVP talking and laughing and in one instance it even sounded a bit like singing. I would make the trip to the house just in order to be able to have the chance of speaking with the children and asking them why they are still there.

Ghost Adventure Investigation
Ghost Adventure Investigation

I, as many who have researched and studied the paranormal for years believe that in most cases the reason for a children’s spirit to remain in a place is either they do not know they are dead, as they were too young to understand what death truly meant, or they are waiting for someone, or and I hate this one, someone or something is holding their spirit in place. Regardless of the reason it is thought that most if not all of the Moore and Stillinger children remain in the house in Villisca. It is also thought that the murderer has returned to haunt the home where he apparently got so much pleasure from his crimes.


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    • JesadaB profile image

      JesadaB 5 years ago from Home!

      Yes I know I to think it is an awful tragedy, I cannot even fathom how the relatives felt when they heard the news. It is always harder when children are involved and we can hope they are still playing and enjoying "living."

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 5 years ago

      This case has always fascinated me, I guess it's very frightening to think someone could get away with murdering a whole family so brutally in the middle of the night. What a senseless tragedy. I often think children who die linger simply because they want to continue living, and they don't realize the difference by sticking around. Either way they sound like they are still having fun, despite the tragedy. I didn't know one of the suspects murdered his family with an axe; I suppose that's telling, as how many people do you run across with the stomach or inclination to do that?