Villisca Axe Murder House – Villisca, Iowa - Atlas Obscura
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Villisca, Iowa

Villisca Axe Murder House

A number of gruesome unsolved murders have turned this simple home into a morbid tourist trap. 

A brutal, unsolved murder case from last century still attracts morbid visitors to the crime scene that is now unabashedly named the Villisca Axe Murder House. 

Sometime after midnight on June 10th, 1912, six children and two adults were found bludgeoned to death by an axe that was left at the scene. Accusations regarding the culprit spread quickly throughout the small town of Villisca, Iowa, sparking suspicious glances among neighbors that would lead to friendships torn asunder. Unfortunately the crime-solving technology of 1912 was not sophisticated enough to identify the murderer, and the case has gone unsolved to this day. Amateur detectives ranging from historians to psychics have tried their hand at solving the case, but a verdict has never been reached.

After changing hands a number of times since the crime, the house was eventually sold to local museum operator Darwin Linn in 1994. Linn immediately began renovations on the home, restoring it to a near perfect replica of its condition at the time of the murders, and gave the site a grisly new name: Villisca Axe Murder House.

Presently, visitors can tour the historic crime scene, now free from gore. And if the Villisca, Iowa bed and breakfasts don’t quite suit you during your visit, look no further: Daring (and wealthy) visitors can stay in the Axe Murder House for $400 a night.    

 

Know Before You Go

You can also visit their graves at the Villisca Cemetery. Enter from Cemetery Road, go straight in about 200 feet or so and loom for the large gray monument that says Moore. Ina and Lena's graves are a row closer to the road and to the left if you are facing the back of the Moore's monument. The Stillinger stones are red.