Villisca Axe Murder House: New Movie, Old Haunt

Villisca Axe Murder House

Last week, a new movie was released centered on the Villisca Axe Murder House. The home, located in rural Villisca, Iowa, was the location of a ghastly slaying of eight individuals as they slept. Having such a horrific deed, which remains unsolved, happen behind it’s walls has thrust the house to the top of many a paranormal investigators wish list as well as being revisited time and time again in books and by the film industry.

The Characters

The Moore family was a prominent family in Villisca. The father, Josiah Moore, ran a mercantile in town which included a John Deere franchise. The mother, Sarah, was active in the local Presbyterian Church and was very involved in the Sunday school and children’s programs there. There where four Moore children, Herman, aged 11, Katherine, aged 9, Boyd, aged 7, and Paul, aged 5.  The children participated in activities at the church as well as attending school and being members of the Junior Society.

The Moore family had two house guests on the night of the murder, Lena, aged 12, and Ina Stillinger, aged 8. The girls were friends of Katherine Moore. They attended the same Presbyterian Church as the Moore’s and were also members of the Junior Society.

The Crime

On the evening of June, 9th 1912, the Moore family and the Stillinger children attended a youth program at their church. The program ended at 9:30 p.m., and with the group walking to the Moore home, this has them arriving there before 10 p.m.  It is unknown what time they retired to bed, but sometime shortly after midnight all eight individuals were brutally slain with an axe while they slept.

It is believed that Lena and Ina were killed first. They were sleeping in a downstairs bedroom and were discovered with clothing hiding their faces. Lena was slid down in the bed a bit where her gown has pulled up. She was the only one that had missing under garments and defensive wounds.

Villisca Axe Murder Victims
The Moore family and the Stillinger girls sadly lost their lives within what is now know as the Villisca Axe Murder House.

The Moore family was all found upstairs in their proper beds. All of them looked as if they had never awakened from the sounds of an intruder in their home. Their faces were all covered as well. Marks could be found in the ceiling above some of the Moores where the axe a hit the ceiling as it was in use.

Odd items  and conditions were found around the home. A dirty plate and a basin of bloody water were sitting on the table as if the killer had cleaned up and fixed himself a snack. Oil lamps with their chimneys removed were found sitting at the foot of two of the beds. A bloody axe was found leaning against the wall with a two pound slab of bacon sitting beside it. Mrs. Moore’s shoe was found with blood inside it as well as under it.  The curtains on the windows were all drawn or covered in clothing. The doors were locked but no key was found in any of the locks.

The crime to this day remains unsolved. While forensics was a relatively new field at this time, the crime scene was one that was completely mishandled with approximately a hundred towns people trampling through the home to take a morbid peek. Evidence was not properly handled.  This created a crime that was impossible to solve.

Much has been written on the crime, and its aftermath. For anyone interested in historic true crime and an investigation gone wrong, it is worth the investment to read the entire account.

The Haunting

As with many locations that have suffered this kind of traumatic event, it is said to be a very active location. Ghost hunters from all over the country flock to the site to witness the activity for themselves. This includes the crew of Ghost Adventures, who filmed an episode of their fourth season at this location.

Many of the prior residents of the home claim that they did not had a paranormal encounter there, but it appears that this all changed after the renovations of the home started in 1994. Darwin and Martha Linn, the current owners, have dedicated themselves to returning the home to they way in was in 1912 and are still working on the home to make it as close to its original state as possible. Perhaps the continuing renovations as well as the return to familiar scenery are stirring the spirits of the property from their slumber.

GAC Villisca Axe Murder House
The Ghost Adventures crew filming at the Villisca Axe Murder House.

It is claimed that the voices and laughter of children can be heard coming from empty areas of the house. Objects have been seen flying around the home. Lamps are knocked over by unseen hands.  Doors are closed by themselves. Ladders have been moved about during the renovation process when no workman was there to do it. Black mists have been captured on camera.  Multiple psychics have picked up on energies in the home.  Historical tours have had to be cut short due to the level of activity present frightening the guests.

Many EVPs and Spirit Box voices have been captured in the house. This is evident by the Ghost Adventures episode that was filmed here. During their lockdown, there were multiple EVPs recorded that seemed relevant to the location and almost residual in nature since it would be things that the killer might have said during the night of the murders. They caught names of victims coming clearly through the Spirit Box as well as things that suggest that the children may still be present in the home.

The Villisca Axe Murder House is open for both historical daylight tours and nighttime paranormal investigations. Information on this as well as very thorough history can be found by visiting their website at The new movie featuring the Villisca Axe Murder story can be rented online at places such as

Let Ghost Hunters Fans know what you think. Leave your comments below…

BethAnn Williams, Paranormal Journalist and Ghost Hunter at Large, is happy to be continuing her role at Ghost Hunters Fans and looks forward to sharing tales of the paranormal with you in the upcoming year.



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