Villisca Axe Murder House
There is an old white framed house sitting in a quiet neighborhood in Villisca, Iowa, which is also known as the Axe Murder House. Many people to this day believe that something or someone still wanders through the house. Children’s voices can be heard all over the empty house and there are as well strange objects moving on their own accord. There is also a door that opens and closes mysteriously.
A well respected business man in the community named Josiah Moore occupied the house with his family in 1912. On a summer night in June of that year there was a horrible crime committed that to this day has never been solved. A stranger broke into the Moore family home and murdered everyone, including two guests that were staying the night.
A total of eight innocent victims had their skulls crushed in with an ax while they slept that night. Josiah Moore and his wife as well as their 3 children were found killed in the upstairs bedroom of the home. The bodies of their two house guests were also found murdered in the downstairs bedroom.
After the murders there was a write up in the local newspaper which reported that the bloody ax that was found in the room had appeared to be the murder weapon. Not only were all of the curtains closed tight but all of the doors were locked as well. Even though the crime has yet to be solved, at the time it happened there were several suspects.
Some residents of the local community believed the killer to be a traveling preacher named Rev. Kelly. He was arrested and charged with the crime in 1917. He allegedly even confessed but the case was dismissed by the local courts. Other people of this sleepy residential town believed the killer to be a wayward traveler or a serial killer who was passing through.
The Haunted Axe Murder House
In 1930 reports of paranormal activity in the house started when a pair of newlyweds came and rented the property. Homer and Bonnie Ritner said that they saw a ghostly apparition of a man sleeping at the foot of their bed and that they also hear strange noises and footsteps all over the house with no logical explanation for them. When the Ritner’s complained of this phenomenon to their neighbors and members of the local community they were told about the dark and grave history of the house.
After that they refused to sleep in the house but set up a bedroom in the barn instead. These strange occurrences continued to happen with doors randomly swinging back and forth throughout the house. They would close the door only to have it open again right in front of their eyes.
In the 1970s a local bank bought the house and used it as a rental property. There were reports of the renters being awoken by the sound of crying children in the night. They would find their clothes thrown all over the room and their dresser drawers pulled open.
Another popular tale is that of a skeptical renter who was sharpening his knife; it somehow mysteriously flew out of his hand and stabbed him in the eye. Since that incident people believe the house to be haunted.
Photo of Villisca Axe Murder House courtesy of Jennifer Kirkland