If you're a fan of true crime and don't get spooked easily, you probably already know all about the Villisca Ax Murder House in Iowa. Now a historical site, the house has a bone-chilling history that's made it one of the most notorious murder houses in our country's history — and you can visit it! But before you purchase your tickets (more on the later), you'll want to read up on the horrifying true story of what happened to the Moore and Stillinger families inside the house. The events left two adults and six children dead, and if the hair on the back of your neck isn't already standing up, it will be.
The Villisca Ax Murder House Story
In the rural small town of Villisca, IA, in 1912, the Moore family lived in this small white frame house. Mr. and Mrs. Moore had four children: Herman, 11, Katherine, 9, Boyd, 7, and Paul, 5. One Sunday evening after church, sisters Lena and Ina Stillinger (ages 12 and 8) were invited back to the Moore household for supper and an overnight with the children, which they gladly accepted. When a neighbor didn't see any activity on the Moore property the following morning, she became worried and rang for the brother of Mr. Moore. After multiple attempts of calling into the house for someone to open or unlock the front door, he entered using a personal house key. What he saw next kick-started one of the world's most scandalous unsolved murder cases.
Inside, the bodies of the Stillinger sisters were found dead in a downstairs bedroom and the bodies of the Moore family were found dead in the bedrooms upstairs. All houseguests were bludgeoned to death on the night of June 10, 1912. What has scholars, historians, and investigators stumped is how the murder scene was left.
Lamps were found off at the end of each bed that contained a dead body; the victims' faces were covered with clothes after they were murdered; a bloody axe (presumably the murder weapon) was located in the room where the Stillinger girls were sleeping, and all rooms had gauge blood marks that mimicked the swing of an axe; there was a pan of bloody water in the kitchen along with a plate of uneaten food (Ummm, WTF?!); and all doors were locked. Oh, and did we mention that the axe belonged to Mr. Moore, which leads people to believe that the murderer arrived at the house unarmed?
Although there were a plethora of suspects, to this day, now 108 years later, there still isn't a convicted murderer and the case remains unsolved. Shortly after the murders, rumors began to spin out of control in the small town and newspapers picked up any and every name that was mentioned but that didn't produce a verified killer.
How You Can Tour the House
If you're just as curious and spooked about this unsolved murder mystery house as we are, you can visit the Villisca Ax Murder House and see it for yourself. Day tours are available Tuesday to Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., and tickets are $10 per person and $5 for seniors (you just have to be 12 years or older to enter). Reservations aren't necessary, but masks or face coverings are mandatory right now, and groups are limited to six with a 15-minute time limit inside the house.
And for the most spine-tingling type of visit, you and a group of up to six guests can book an overnight tour for $428. After a tour of the house and grounds, keys are turned over to the guests and you have the house to yourself from 4 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. the next morning. Those staying overnight are advised to bring coats, sleeping bags, and pillows. Photographs, videos, and audio recording are highly encouraged!
You can book an overnight tour by visiting the Villisca Ax Murder House website, where you will also find more information regarding COVID-19 limitations and safety precautions. In the meantime, sneak a peek at some of the rooms inside the Villisca Ax Murder House ahead.