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Hello! And welcome back to another fun, spooky episode of the Paranormal Housewife Podcast! Welcome if you’re new here. My name is Kelly and I am excited to share today’s topic with you. I will be honest that with I first started researching and planning this topic it was suppose to actually be a blog post and not a podcast episode but when I got a chance to actually sit down to write out the post, I realized that this would make a much better podcast episode than a blog post. Hopefully y’all will agree.
Last week on the blog I was talking about haunted locations in Iowa. Tuesday’s post was about Edinburgh Manor and featured a paranormal team that I met last year called Travelers Moon Paranormal. I met them at the coolest little festival called Haunted Horror And Paranormal Investigation Festival. It was three days of horror movies, talks with the folks that made them, and talks with a variety of paranormal teams from across the country all set in a cute haunted home. While all of the teams I met were great, I really enjoyed hanging out with Chris and Kelly of Travelers Moon. They shared a lot of interesting techniques they use during investigations. In Tuesday’s post, I shared one of those techniques. I’ll list that post and the post about the festival in the description of this episode so you can go check that out. I have also listed all of the social media pages for Travelers Moon Paranormal as well because you seriously need to go check them out. I also have a link to Chris’ book that he wrote about Edinburgh Manor.
I also need to apologize to my readers because when I posted that post about the film festival, there was actually suppose to be another post that went into the paranormal side of the festival. The day it was suppose to go live, I had technical issues where it was deleted from wordpress and the file the draft was saved to on my computer was corrupted so I couldn’t recopy it onto wordpress. That was also the day I left for Salem, Massachusets with my sister- in- law, Reba. So I couldn’t rewrite it. As soon as I got back to Peoria, Illinois from Salem, Jeremy and I finally started our cross country move to San Diego, California. In all the moving chaos, I completely forgot that I needed to redo that post until now when I was looking for those post. I am so sorry. Life has been chaos and honestly after this past week, it is still chaos. Between that jewelry order (which I finally finished!!!), starting a new job (I am a trivia host at some really cool bars), having really bad allergic reaction that took me out of commission for a few days, I didn’t even get a chance to sit down to research or write the script for this episode until Saturday night. Normally I like to have everything done the week before a podcast goes live because of situations like this but I just ran out of time and spoons. I’m sorry. As of now, life will be a bit less chaotic which means I can get my life back in order.
Just like on the post about Edinburgh Manor, I reached out to Travelers Moon for help with this … well… episode not post. haha. They have been able to investigate at this location a few times and I knew they would have reliable experiences that I could share with y’all. So what location is the topic of today’s podcast? Well, it’s Villisca Axe Murder House.
While I know that a lot of y’all listening to this may be familiar to the history that happened in this house but I know there are some that may not and for them I am going to go over what happened. If you have little ears in the room or are sensitive to depictions of murder, you may want to fast forward a little bit to get past this section.
June 9th, 2012 was a normal day for the Moore family. The Moore family consisted of Josiah (the father and aged 43 years old), Sarah (the mother and aged 39 years old), and their four children Herman Montgomery (aged 11 years old), Mary Katherine (aged 10 years old), Arthur Boyd (aged 7 years old), and Paul Vernon (5 years old). They had spent the morning at church as usual. That evening, the Moore family returned to their church for a Children’s Day program which Sarah helped coordinate. The Moore children participated in the program. The program ended around around 9:30pm and the Moore family headed home around 9:45pm. They were accompanied by Lena Gertude Stillinger (aged 12 years old) and her sister, Ina Mae Stillinger (aged 8 years old). They were friends of Mary Katherine and had been invited to spend the night after the church program. They didn’t have a long walk until they reached the Moore’s house. How the rest of the evening until they went to bed went, we may never know.
The next morning, the Moore’s neighbor, Mary Peckham began going about her morning chores about 5am. By 7am, Mary had realized that she hadn’t seen Sarah Moore out and about doing her morning chores as she usually does. By 8am, Mary was getting worried about the family because of how quiet their house still seemed despite it getting late in the morning and having so many kids that were usually up and active like their parents. Mary walked over to the Moore’s house and knocked several times on their door. When Mary didn’t get a response to her knocking, she let their chicken’s out and headed back to her house to call Ross Moore who was Josiah’s brother. Ross came over and knocked like Mary did. When he didn’t get a response either, he let himself into the Moore’s house. Mary stayed on the porch as Ross began checking out the house. He didn’t notice anything off in the parlor room but when he checked out the guest room off the parlor, he was shocked to find the murdered bodies of Lena and Ina Stillinger. He backed out of the house and told Mary to called for Hank Horton, who was the City Marshall. When Hank arrived, he checked each room of the house and discovered that in addition to the murder of the Stillinger girls, each of the Moore family members were also killed in their beds. Josiah and Sarah looked like they had been attacked twice. Sarah and the children were bludgeoned with the back part of an axe. Josiah was attacked with the blade side of the axe.
As the police conducted their investigation, they came across a few things. The murder weapon ended up being an axe that was owned by Josiah Moore. The police also found two cigarette butts in the attic which showed that the killer hung out in the attic for a while waiting for the Moore family and their guests to fall asleep. Speaking of sleeping, all eight victims were killed while they slept. Josiah and Sarah were killed first, then the Moore children. It’s believed that the killer returned to the parent’s room to attack them again. Perhaps they heard one of them still alive and that’s why they return. I don’t know. After the second attack on the parents, the killer or killers moved downstairs to attack the Stillinger girls. All the windows in the house had the curtains drawn if they had curtains and if they didn’t have curtains, clothing from the Moore’s was thrown over the windows. Clothing also covered the faces of each of the victims and all of the mirrors in the home. The ceilings in Josiah and Sarah’s room and their children’s bedroom had gauge marks from the attack. All the doors in the house were locked. A two pound slab of bacon wrapped in a dish towel was found on the floor of the downstairs bedroom where the Stillinger girls were attacked. There was also a plate of uneaten food left on the table in the kitchen beside a bowl of bloody water.
I won’t go into the details of the following investigation into various suspects that included the Reverend of the church that the Moores and the Stillingers attended, an Iowa State Senator, a serial killer, and a few other folks but I definitely recommend looking into the case if true crime interests you. The case itself is out there and the twists and turns it takes is mind blowing. The main thing you’ll probably need to know about the crime to enjoy the rest of the episode is that this case is unsolved.
It’s not unusual when something as horrific as this murder happens that the location has some sort of activity but the activity experienced here is different than most locations I have visited. Granted I am going based off of other people’s experiences because I haven’t had the opportunity to visit this location yet because it was about seven hours from our house in Illinois. That is one of the reasons I reached out to Chris and Kelly because I know I trust their experiences.
To quote Chris “This may be a hot take to some, but I’m not sure there is something [intelligent] there. At least not all the time. I firmly believe what most people feel in the Villisca axe murder house is a scar/ a tragedy. I firmly believe that if you were to take someone who knew nothing of the house or what happened there, and put them inside. They would know. Probably not every grim detail, but they would know that something happened in that house.” In the email, Chris went on to paraphrase a conversation he had with Johnny Houser who is the caretaker of the home. “It seems like the house gives you what you go in looking for. If you are going in looking for the Stillinger girls, you may get some more child-like interactions. That being said, if you go in expecting to meet the devil… you may not be in for a good experience.”
When asked about the experiences they have had Chris said “ We have been many, many places and many with less than pleasant history…this is one of the few where the vibrations of the place are so dense that we need to take a break on occasion. It was interesting to watch as well that, when we got the chance, we congregated as a group in the living room. We couldn’t seem to loosen up unless we were somewhere where a murder didn’t happen. Intelligent interactions with EMF readers and infrared sensors- So despite what I said about there maybe not being something intelligent in the house, this isn’t always the case. The replay- This is a situation where I don’t envy Kelly’s gifts. Every time she spends the night at the ax murder house, she sees the events like some sort of a horrific movie in every grizzly detail. This last time it was interesting to experience though because she had back up to these experiences. I was in the attic and she was in the parents room around the time the murders were said to take place. Around 11:30pm I was feeling sick, anxious, and generally unwell. After a while these feelings were alleviated and then I hear Kelly say, “He’s left the attic”. It’s important to note that the first place the killer was said to have gone was the parents room (which is logical). After that a REM pod went off aggressively as well as an EMF. The feeling of the house was very intense until after the time of the murders had passed. After we left- With our abilities, Kelly and I don’t often spend the night in these places, so we had gotten a hotel for the night After we left, the people we had been investigating with were chased out of the house by a set of phantom foot steps flying down the stairs.””
People who have visited the house have experienced a wide variety of paranormal activity. Even families that moved into the house after the murders didn’t stay long with some claiming it is because of the paranormal activity. Everything ranging from sounds to apparitions to intense feelings have been reported. People report to hear footsteps throughout the house and going down the stairs. Visitors report hearing voices with various degrees of being able to understand what is being said. The owners of the house recommend bringing recording equipment due to the amount of EVPs that have been recorded over the years. Flashlights turn on and off on their own. Cold spots are felt. Some people have been scratched. Doors can be heard shutting. Objects move often of their own accord. The rocking chairs will rock on their own. Shadow people have been seen and photographed throughout the house but especially in the attic.
But there have been some odd occurrences that happened. I am a huge fan of Amy Bruni and her work on Kindred Spirits. On her podcast, Haunted Roads, Amy talked about the Villisca Axe Mure House in the first episode called Slay Utterly. During an interview with Johnny Houser in the episode, Johnny talks about how people feel drawn to the house. He has walked out of the house one more than one occasion to see someone standing outside just looking up at the house, staring. They don’t know why they are there. They just felt the need to be there even it was several miles or even hours out of their way.
Then there was the time a ghost hunter investigating at the house. On November 7th, 2014 a man in his 50’s and his two elderly parents showed up to do an overnight investigation. From my understanding, these weren’t professional paranormal investigators or even decent ghost hunters. With all the reports I have heard about what happened on this evening, he was just a person imitating what he saw on certain shows that I shall not name right now due to my inability to say anything nice about the show. Johnny Houser, the caretaker, checked up on them before heading home and going to bed. Johnny said that the guy said “I’m going to give the house a piece of my mind”. The next morning Johnny found out that the 50 year old man had been found by his parents in the children’s bedroom with a hunting knife plunged deeply into his chest. The man had been in their alone trying to investigate on his own. The guy later admitted that he had been in the room trying to provoke the spirits to come at him. The next thing that the guy remembers is waking up in the Omaha, Nebraska hospital that he had been life flighted to. Thankfully he was able to recover from the stabbing to tell his story. And this, my friends, is exactly why I preach about ethical ghost hunting. Don’t take weapons on investigations. Don’t provoke spirits. Don’t separate yourself from your group if you are in a location that has dangerous activities or areas. Especially if you’re going to go do something stupid.
The owners of the Villisca Axe Murder house have restored the home back to as close as possible to the way it looked back in 1912. They allow both daytime tours and overnight investigations. The day time tours are only jut $10 per person with a senior rate of just $5. The overnight investigations are only $428 and to be honest with the amount of places I have investigated over the years, $428 for up to 6 people is a steal of price to have free run of a whole location. According to their website (which is linked in the description of this episode) they will be opening their overnight bookings again in October.
So what do you think of the Villisca Axe Murder House? Have you heard of this crime before or the hauntings? Would you spend the night here? I would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on social media. On most social media platforms I am Paranormal Housewife except on Twitter I am Paranormal HW. You can also make suggestions for future topics, places to investigate, and suggestions to improve the podcast via my email or social media. You can also reach me through my blog Paranormal housewife dot com. Speaking of my blog, for those of y’all who already follow my blog or have listened to previous episodes of this podcast know this but through my blog I talk about what it’s like living with spirits and haunted objects, how to ethically ghost hunt, and the truth behind haunted locations and urban legends. This week on the blog I will be talking about some ethical ghost hunting topics such as what to look for in a paranormal team. Next week we will be back to talking about haunted locations, urban legends, and cryptids in each state. Next week’s location is Wyoming and I can’t wait for y’all to read those posts. They have been fun to research so far.
If you enjoyed this episode, please let me know by leaving me a review and rating my show on the streaming service you are listening to this episode. Also please tell your friends and families about this podcast. Both rating and sharing my podcast helps me so much. If you would like to read a copy of the transcripts for this episode, please check out the post on my blog about this episode. Also on that post, you can find a list of some of the resources I used while researching this topic.
I do want to say again, thank you for your patience while things have been chaotic in our household. I am so grateful for y’all and I am excited for the future because of topics for this podcast and the blog, but life in general. If you want a more in depth look into my life and what’s been going on, definitely check out my blog and social media. I hope y’all have a great week and I will see you back here in two week with another great episode of Paranormal Housewife Podcast.
Links for Travelers Moon Paranormal:
- Chris’ book about Edinburgh Manor https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09SHRXSFT/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_Q2B2Q20T9EV0HWA7GM1F?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
Links mentioned in episode: