Remove Ads
47 votes

Villisca Ax Murder House

508 E 2nd St, Villisca, Iowa 50864 USA

Closed Now
Opens Tue 1p
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards
    not Accepted
  • Not Wheelchair
  • Public
  • No Wifi
Add to Trip

Heads up!

Due to the spread of COVID-19, some points of interest may be closed or have restrictions. Please stay safe and call ahead to get the latest information.

Certified Weird

Our Take

It might be a bit expensive for what it is, but it's worth it if you're a fan of true crime or the paranormal-- keep your eyes peeled for toys that move around on their own and for bad vibes in the attic. The owner has done a fantastic job of restoring it to its early 20th-century appearance, and the guides are knowledgable about the murders and paranormal happenings. Just keep in mind that the town of Villisca is truly tiny (there's only one restaurant) so don't plan on anything more than a quick stop at the house.

Remove Ads

“the site of gruesome murders”

One of America's most infamous axe murders occurred on the night of June 9, 1912, when eight people were bludgeoned to death inside the Moore residence in the small Iowa town of Villisca. To date, the crime has never been solved. Little is known about what happened during the early morning hours of June 9, but the details are grisly. Before the sun came up, someone broke into Moore family house and slaughtered eight people in their beds, including six children, before disappearing without a trace. The bodies of the Moore family were discovered the next morning, when their neighbor, Mary Peckham, noticed that no one had risen to begin the day's chores. Mrs Peckham found a local family member to open the front door to the Villisca Axe Murder House, and what they found inside was an absolute bloodbath. The Villisca police arrived quickly, and the tiny town of erupted into a horrified panic about the violent crime. It didn't take long for police to find the murder weapon, an axe, on the floor in the guest room next to the bodies of Ina and Lena Stillinger. Upstairs, Josiah, Sarah, and their children Herman, Katherine, Boyde, and Paul were found dead in their rooms. Each face of the victim had been carefully covered, and all the windows and doors locked. Police began rounding up suspects, and the list of potential killers was not a short one. Many Villisca residents believed the murderer was a man named William "Blackie" Mansfield. According to amateur detectives, Mansfield went on an axe murdering spree for years before ending his bloody rampage in Villisca. Fortunately for Mansfied, his alibi checked out, though two years later he was arrested after killing his wife, infant child, father-in-law, and mother-in-law. The traveling Reverend George Kelly became another suspect after he developed a strange fascination with the case. Kelly appeared in Villisca on June 8, and left on the 10th after teaching a children's service that the Moore family attended. In the weeks following the murders, Kelly began sending strange letters to the police and to the family members of the deceased claiming that he witnessed the murders as they were happening. As a child, Kelly suffered from a mental breakdown when he was caught "peeping" and asking girls to pose for photos. Two years after the murders, Kelly was caught sexually harassing a women and was sent to the St. Elizabeth's Hospital. In 1917 he was officially arrested in connection with the Villisca murders and confessed to killing the Moore family, tough after two trials he was acquitted of the murders. The jury concluded that Kelly's confession was only given after being tortured for hours by police. No one was ever officially convicted of the Moore Family murders, though there were many suspects, and many people who admitted to being the killer. In 1994, the house was purchased with the intention of turning it into the Villisca Axe Murder House, and renovations began to restore it back to its original condition. Today it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and offers tours and overnight stays in the actual crime scene. Over the years, there have been a number of stories about the strange, unexplainable activity that goes on inside the house. More often than not, tours are interrupted by the strange whispers of children's voices, mysterious falling objects, slamming doors, and unexplained shadows that seem to follow people around the dark halls. If you're really feeling brave, the Villisca Axe Murder House offers overnight stays for groups of friends who want to spend the night searching for the ghosts that are still roaming the murder scene. Bring your flashlights and sleeping bags, and if you happen to capture anything paranormal on film or video, the Villisca house asks that you share it with the public. The unsolved mystery of the Villisca Axe Murders has remained apart of the public's curiosity for almost 100 years, and in a way it has helped to keep the memory of the Moore family alive and important. ADMISSION FOR TOURS: $10; Open April 1st through October 31st.

Read More >
Add Review
Your Rating

Reviewed by
Dana Newkirk

  • Road Warrior
  • 298 Reviews
  • 352 Helpful
July 31, 2014
Rated 4.0

Over the years, there have been a number of stories about the strange, unexplainable activity that goes on inside the house. More often than not, tours are interrupted by the strange whispers of children's voices, mysterious falling objects, slamming doors, and unexplained shadows that seem to follow people around the dark halls.

4 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Anna Hider

  • Blogger
  • 1,414 Reviews
  • 561 Helpful
May 31, 2019
Rated 5.0

The house is so tiny! I love how much work went into restoring it to its early 20th century appearance. They even took out the indoor plumbing that had been installed. The barn out back where you buy tickets is creepy, too. The kids toys scattered throughout the house were super creepy. Definitely go into the attic where the killer probably hid out. And the tour guide was super friendly! She claimed that things were moving around in the house while I was there, even. Spoooooooky.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Shana Schaefer

  • 10 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
February 26, 2016
Rated 5.0

Spent the night and had a seemingly uneventful stay...or so I thought! Upon our return home and review of our DVRs we had some of the strangest (and best) EVPs in my decade of ghost hunting! Can't wait to return!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 6 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
July 28, 2015

Stayed here over night with two other friends. We had a lot of fun, walked around town, had some fish fry, and read everything that they had on the murders there at the house. We all did a slumber party style in the living room. Wonderful time :)

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 4 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
August 31, 2020

Went to the Villisca house on our way back of a tour through Iowa. Was a neat experience the tour guide was very helpful. It was a neat experience.

Was this helpful?

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
May 25, 2017
Rated 5.0

I knew by the long list of people waiting to get in that this place was no joke. Our family team Mt Hope Paranormal decide to cut our teeth on our first full investigation at the Villisca Ax Murder house. We experienced a gambit of things, from a ghostly hand touch, disorientation, knocking sounds, electronic failures, EVP like you wouldn't believe! We even experienced the manifestation of some sort of light/dark energy. This home is welcoming to old and young alike. Just not those faint at heart because the story of the tragedy can feel all to real when you're watching your family sleeping in the same room that someone had been murdered in...
If I had the time and the money I would do it all over again because I know no experience is ever the same.

Was this helpful?

Be the first to add a review to the Villisca Ax Murder House.

Villisca Ax Murder House

508 E 2nd St
Villisca, Iowa
50864 USA


Closed Now
  • Sun, Tue - Sat: 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Problem with this listing? Let us know.

  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Outdoor Seating
See More Details (15)

Parking, Dining

Remove Ads

Nearby Hotels

Stanton, Iowa
Clarinda, Iowa
Corning, Iowa
Clarinda, Iowa

Click to find a
great deal for this hotel

Related Trip Guides

  • Trip Guide
  • 1 Week

The Great River Road

  • 34 Places
  • 37:30
  • 1,968 mi
  • Trip Guide

The Coolest Attractions and Stops Along I-80

  • 35 Places
  • 53:41
  • 3,194 mi
Remove Ads