Many of you know my daughter, a friend, and myself, made a trip to Villisca, IA to visit the Villisca Ax Murder House, Museum and Cemetery. This was one the neatest Iowa experiences I have had in a while and it left me wanting more.
For those unfamiliar with the story: In 1912, 8 People were murdered in their beds. Mr. and Mrs. Moore, their 4 children, and 2 children that had stayed overnight.
This murder has gone unsolved, although there were 3 main suspects. There are many factors that damaged the investigation from the beginning. Lack of technology that we have today (fingerprinting , DNA, etc.), the fact that the town flocked to the scene before state officials could arrive and tainted the crime scene, and several other things.
You can check out the Official Villisca Ax Murder Site for more in-depth information if you are interested.
The first thing that greeted us when we got the Villisca Ax Murder House was a little black cat and his sibling. Eerie right from the get-go, huh?! They are strays that have made the barn their home. The tour guide told us to take one home – uhhh, no thank you.
As soon as I hit the house I had a feeling in my gut. Now whether I was just wanting to feel something, or was just hungry, I don’t know… but a strange feeling washed over me when I stepped inside.
The inside of the house is furnished like the 19oos. Some of the items are from the family who lived there and other items have been purchased from the era and placed in their original positions.
We were able to walk through the entire house. Touching things, taking pictures, laying on beds, sitting on chairs, whatever we wished.
After all, people do pay over $400 a night to stay over, and there is always a wait so it is a popular place. The first room I took a look at was the main floor bedroom where the two houseguests were sleeping.
Upstairs is where the entire Moore Family was sleeping. The parent’s room is right at the top of the steps and the children slept just off of their room. The house was definitely smaller than I was expecting.
There is also an attic off of Mr. and Mrs. Moore’s bedroom. The photo below is a from inside the attic looking out, which is where the killer is thought to have hidden and waited.
I want to share a part with you about our visit to the cemetery and I probably wouldn’t have believed it had I not been there to witness it. A lady in our group was standing next to me with a crystal on a chain. It is supposed to sense spirits and when it does it starts to sway.
She mentioned it hadn’t done much at the house but it was starting to sway more at the cemetery. All the sudden the crystal started swinging and swirling like crazy, her arm wasn’t moving, and it swung so hard it flew off the chain!! (Pic below is of the burial site of Mr. and Mrs. Moore and their children.)
We learned a lot, from the tour guide at the cemetery, about the suspects that had been named. Frank Jones, who was Mr. Moore’s boss and was planning on running for Senate, and rumor was that he and Mr. Moore were both having affairs with Mr. Jones’ daughter-in-law. Mr. Moore and started his own business adjacent to Mr. Jones shortly before the murders.
Then there was Andy, a transient who was in town helping lay the brick streets that Villisca was putting in at the time. He always carried an ax and even slept with one in his tent down by the river.
(Note: The ax used in the murders was Mr. Moore’s and it was left at the scene. It is on display at the Historical Museum in Des Moines, IA but there is 5-7 day wait to get in.)
Last but possibly not least is Blackey Mansfield, whose family was murdered in the exact same way. The crime scene was the exact same as the one at the Moore’s House. To this day no one knows for sure who committed the murders at the Villisca Ax Murder House.
After the house and cemetery, we visited the Villisca Ax murder House Museum. It is full of time period items, items from the Moore Family, and others involved in this unsolved mystery. There are also several pictures from people that have stayed overnight and witnessed supernatural activity.
I snapped some pictures of their pictures to pass on – it is amazing what some people have seen or had happen to them. The picture (below) of the house is particularly interesting and also had a letter with it.
A guest had stayed overnight and snapped some pictures. Upon developing them she noticed a figure of a small boy in the lower left corner of the window pane. The far right picture is that window pane blown up, showing the figure.
I highly recommend visiting the Villisca Ax Murder House in Iowa if you are ever in the area. For Day Tours, just show up between 1pm-3pm Tuesday-Sunday. Cost of Day Tours is $10.00 per person (12+), $5.00 persons (7-11 & 65+) and it is cash only to get in.
Night Tours at Villisca Ax Murder house run $428 for 1-6 people and $75 for each additional person. You should arrive at 4pm and you will be asked to leave by 9:30am.
Learn more at VilliscaIowa.com