Long before the term “serial killer” was coined, the small town of Villisca, Iowa was visited by a sadistic murderer. Slaying a total of eight people, the killing of two adults and six children at the Moore house has gone unsolved since the night of June 9th, 1912. Today the house is open to the public for tours daily from 1:00 to 3:00, allowing visitors to wander throughout the rooms in search of the ghosts that may linger there.
The day of Sunday June 9th was like any other; Lena and Ina Stillinger, daughters of Joseph and Sara, went to church that morning to meet their grandmother. They were invited by Katherine Moore to spend the night after the Children’s Day activities, and Mr. Moore placed a call to the Stillingers to ask permission. Lena and Ina’s older sister, Blanche, answered the phone and replied that she would pass along the message to her parents whom at the time were outside. After the Children’s Day program concluded at around 9:30pm, the entire Moore family along with the two girls walked the short distance home, entering sometime between 9:45 and 10:00pm.
What happened next has remained a mystery for over 100 years. At around 4:30am, a neighbor Mary Peckham reported hearing a disturbance in the small home, and summoned a relative named Ross Moore over to check on the family around 8:00am when no one had been seen doing their morning chores. With the shades drawn, he had no choice but to use his key and discover what had happened to his brother and his family. What he found was a gruesome scene: Ina, 8, and Lena Stillinger, 12, dead on the kitchen floor, the rest of the family upstairs in their beds, all slaughtered with an axe. The Moore’s skulls had been crushed, including the parents Josiah, 43, Sarah, 39, and the children Herman, 11, Katherine, 9, Boyd, 7, and Paul, 5. The scene was strange, including raw bacon left on the floor, the mirrors were covered, and there was uneaten food at the table. All the doors were still locked from the inside.
News of this deliberate massacre traveled like wildfire, and soon over 2,000 people had trudged through and contaminated the ghastly crime scene. Even worse, a detective from Kansas City showed up inebriated. Detectives questioned people for five years, but never got close to finding the killer. It goes without saying, had the murder happened today it would have been an open and shut case. However, whoever committed the heinous acts on the night of June 9th is more than likely long dead, taking with him the truth of what happened that fateful night.
Now, the Villisca Murder house is considered one of the most haunted locations in the country, hosting tours daily as well as overnights. The Travel Channel lists it in the top ten scariest places on earth, as well as many others. Book your overnight today on their website here.
A photo from the bedroom in the Villisca House. Is that a ghost on my purse?