I enjoyed my trip out to the small town of Villisca. The town was quiet and there were few people out and about. It almost felt as if my arrival had been annonced and everyone scurried off to hide. I had lunch at a small cafe and was really delighted with the charming group of women who took interest in this strange person from Chicago. They spoke of how even today, the town was affected by the tragic events so long ago. They mentioned that the Villisca baseball team who was visiting another town for a game had been taunted by the others with shouts of "ax murder team". It was something they had been accustomed to. There was a gloom that hung over this little town. It felt palatable, like a wound that would never quite heal.
The house is a pretty little country farm house. It is still unimaginable to comprehend the verosity of the murders within. Killing adults may have its motives, but butchering children in their sleep is unfathomable. There are many stories and speculation as to who was asleep, who was awake, how many killers were present, and many other details about the night of the murders and the hours and days following. I was present during the of the day while tours were being given to passersby, and remained for the duration of the night; alone during my investigation.
One cannot expect to stay at the house overnight and be inundated with ghostly mists, footsteps and moans and groans. The energy is more subtle. While the mood of the house during the day and evening was subdued and quiet, it changed dramatically after 1-2am. The mood grew darker; ominous, and feelings of being watched were followed by the 'fight or flight' emotion. It took every ounce of courage to stay in the house overnight, let alone venture upstairs into the attic where the murderer(s) waited for their chance to strike as the family drifted off to sleep following a chuch event. I would like to return again, this time with others, to find out what really still exists in this pretty little farm house. I feel that it still remains. . .
Additional links can be found at the bottom of the page. The extra details and stories will help paint a clearer picture of how shocking the murders were, how they split the small community in two, and how the killer(s) have never been brought to justice. It remains the worst unsolved murder mystery in the country.
I highly recommend the book "Villisca" by Roy Marshall.
In 1912 what was arguably the most violent crime, the darkest mystery, in Midwest history took place. Law enforcement officers encountered a scene of unimagined violence: eight victims, six of them children, bludgeoned to death with an ax while they slept. Everywhere there were clues. But inexperienced investigators failed, and private detectives took over. When Detective James Newton Wilkerson charged that a respected state senator had been motivated to the unthinkable by the promiscuity of his daughter-in-law, the community was drawn into a bitter and accelerating struggle between powerful men. And then a deranged and perverted minister confessed. . . .
Are There Actual Photographs of Iowa's Most Infamous Crime Scene?
Villisca: Living with a Mystery (Facebook page)