Ghost Adventures: “Villisca Axe Murder House”

“Ghost Adventures” captured chilling EVP and spirit box comments from the lost souls and parasitic entities that inhabit the Moore house in Villisca, Iowa.

On the evening of June 10,1912 Josiah and Sarah Moore, their four children and two neighbor girls returned from a church event and settled in for the night. They never woke up.

A still unidentified murderer had gotten inside the house while the family was away and hid in the attic until everyone had fallen asleep. The murderer killed Josiah and Sarah Moore with an axe as the attic exit lead into their bedroom. He then stepped into another upstairs bedroom and murdered the four Moore children, Herman (11), Katherine (10), Boyd (seven) and Paul (five).

The killing spree concluded when the murderer entered the bedroom off the kitchen on the main floor and similarly dispatched two young sisters, Lena (12) and Ina (7) Stillinger who were friends of Katherine Moore.

Despite a laundry list of suspects and a discredited confession, the identity of the murderer(s) remained unknown and the case unsolved.

Strangely the murderer covered every mirror in the house. Zak speculated the mirrors were covered because the murderer could stand to see what a monster looked like. I got a vastly different impression.

The mirrors were covered by the murderer as a common custom of the era to denote a house in mourning. The practice was common in Victorian England, and Victoria’s reign ended in 1901, a scant eleven years before the Moore house murders. The murderer would have been familiar with the practice as a symbol of decency.

When I asked my guides who killed the Moore family and the Stillinger girls I was told there was collaboration between Iowa Senator Frank Jones and deranged traveling preacher Reverend George Kelly.

What were the motives behind the murders? My guides told me Frank Jones was bitterly angry at Josiah Moore due to a business deal that went sour and cost the Senator money. Frank convinced George Kelly that Frank had been terribly wronged by Josiah Moore. Frank did not bloody his hands. He left the dirty work for George Kelly, but was the vile intent behind the murders.

Why did Kelly fall for that story? My guides echoed what historian Roy Marshall told Zak during his interview, that George Kelly was a “deeply conflicted individual”. That was a kind way to put it. George Kelly was a sexual sadist and completely off his rocker. He was obsessed with the concept of hell.

George was convinced with the unshakable belief of the deeply delusional that the Moore family was evil and had to be destroyed. In a horrible way he thought he was doing God’s work. That such “righteous acts” allowed him to indulge his twisted sexual proclivities was a bonus.

I was saddened to learn that evidence at the crime scene in June of 1912 indicated that 12-year-old Lena Stillinger was sexually assaulted near the time of her death. My source was: the official Villisca Ax Murder House website. I wished I was wrong about that.

The web site also detailed the business relationship between Frank Jones and Josiah Moore. Josiah had worked for Frank at his store for nine years. In 1908, four years before the murders, Josiah quit working for Frank and opened his own farm implement sales company. In the process Josiah took the highly profitable John Deere franchise with him. That pretty much backed up what my guides had told me, there was a business deal that went sour and cost Frank Jones money.

I wanted to note that the “official” website was put up by Darwin Linn, the current owner of Moore house and the museum in town that provided Zak with a key artifact from the Villisca axe murders.

Historian, author and former law enforcement professional Roy Marshall filled GAC in on documented facts of the murders. As a dyed in the wool skeptic, Roy joined GAC during lockdown.

GAC was interested in the murders and the possibility those slain still resided at the Moore house but the strongest draw seemed to be an exceptionally nasty collection of dark entities who gave their name as “LEGION” via EVP work done by past investigators.

Since I tuned into Legion’s energy last year with a different investigation I chose to screen out its comments and focus on the ghosts of the murdered family and friends. That type of parasitic dark entity is commonly found in places where a lot of violence and blood shed occurred. While on the nasty side of dark critters in general I have found Legion and its ilk boringly uniform and unimaginative. Seen one, seen them all.

Zak was drawn by the promise of a dark entity like a bee to honey and interviewed past paranormal investigators and former tenants of the Moore house.

Chris Dedman and Roland Saenz shared their experiences during a past investigation on site. Both had been badly shaken up and chose to discuss the property outside the confines of the walls. They were the group that captured the “Legion” EVP. Chris challenged the dark entity and as he attempted to leave the house had the breath knocked out of him by an unseen force. Chris described the experience like being hit with a baseball bat. Once he could breathe again he discovered three long, curving claw marks down his back that looked a great deal like the letter L.

During their investigation Chris and Roland asked who was the murderer? The recorded EVP response was, “Reverend Kelly”.

Roland warned Zak that if GAC challenged the dark entity in residence, “It is going to come out. It will challenge you. It will play with you.”

Next door neighbor and primary Moore House investigator John Howser conducted the walk through with GAC. John told Zak he believed the dark entity in the house had negatively impacted him. He said he often felt alien emotions pushed into him by an outside source. He often felt, cold, bitter and angry towards his family. John believed the dark thing next door had started to follow him home. It did sound like he had an unhealthy attachment.

John joined Zak in the Moore children’s upstairs bedroom. Zak tried a little pre-lockdown communication. He told Legion, “Show us your power. We will respect you if you respect us.” He got something’s attention because behind him the barely ajar closet door closed itself. John looked ready to bolt, but to his credit stuck with Zak.

Zak checked the door and determined that it did not close by itself. He sat in the closet alone and had John close the door after him. Zak emerged a few moments later with chills as he rubbed his arms and agreed with John that there was “something bad” in the house.

Sisters Linda Cloud and Patty Williamson lived in the Moore house as children with their parents and siblings. Both were deeply afraid to be in the house as it brought back memories of frightening things that had happened when their family was in residence.

Linda told Zak the Moore house frightened her. She confided in Zak that, “Something keeps pulling me back here and I want answers.” “This house talks to me all the time. It has been with me my whole life.”

Linda’s father was in the habit of sharpening his own knives. One day he was going about that chore when an unseen force applied pressure to his hand, which caused the knife he was sharpening to change directions and stab him in the torso. (Linda Cloud corrected this 1/17/12 when she informed me her father was stabbed in the thumb, not the torso. I always favor eyewitness sources and she was there.)

Zak told Linda he understood how traumatic it must have to been to have watched her father be attacked. He said such experiences, “…live in you. They breed in you.” I agreed with Zak that such events would be emotionally scaring and traumatic, but his choice of words struck me as odd. Experiences that create fear remain with someone but living inside and breeding inside, no that sounded more like a dark entity hitchhiker than a fear based memory.

Zak did a quick EVP session asking entities in the house if they remembered Linda. An EVP was captured that asked, “Where is she?”

She tried to talk about more of the strange and disturbing things that had happened when she lived in the Moore house, but was suddenly overcome by weakness and had to sit down. She was rattled and told Zak, “There is definitely something not right here. It calls me back. I don’t know why.”

When Zak asked Linda if she felt the same presences she experienced as a girl were still in residence, she said, “This house is his.” Zak asked who she was talking about. Linda replied, “The man who did the murder.” She wasn’t kidding.

Linda and Zak headed upstairs to the bedroom where the Moore children were killed. Linda was visibly unsettled and anxious. She told Zak, “I just want those little girls to tell me what they want me to do.” Even years later, Linda couldn’t determine if it was the good or the bad spirits in the house that called to her.

As Linda asked what the murdered girls wanted from her I heard the voices of two young girls chime in unison, “Pray for us.” It sounded like a rote response, similar to what might be heard from a congregation during a church service.

Patty Williamson was also interviewed inside the house by Zak. She was more distressed than Linda had been. She told Zak when her family first moved in they had slept on the floor in the kitchen. During one night both Patty and Linda heard disembodied children’s voices talking to them. They told their parents but were not believed.

Even decades later, it deeply bothered Patty she was told she was crazy and her parents didn’t believe her.

Zak asked Patty, “Do you think this spirit would like to carry out his act of murder on you two?” Patty told him, “I think that is what he would like to do.”

The memories were too much for Patty. She had to leave the house. After she escaped the kitchen, Patty paced around the property with her hands over her head as she wiped tears away. Zak joined her, tried to calm her down and told her not to worry about her inability to complete the interview.

Before lock down Zak obtained an axe from local museum curator and Moore house owner Darwin Linn who claimed it had been removed from the murder scene in 1912. Zak wondered if he held the murder weapon.

“Ghost Adventures” set up X cameras in the cellar, main floor bedroom, the Moore children’s upstairs bedroom and the attic where the murderer waited for his victims to fall asleep.

Zak brought in skeptic Roy Marshall and explained how he conducted an EVP session. He showed Roy his DVR was empty of any sound files and asked Roy to help GAC in marking any noise contamination during the investigation.

Roy and Zak started out in the downstairs bedroom where the Stillinger sisters were killed. Five minutes passed without any results but then unexplained noises were recorded on the stairs. They followed the noises upstairs to the Moore kid’s room but didn’t pick anything up for another 42 minutes. On their last EVP session downstairs something remarkable was recorded.

Zak wanted Roy in on the analysis of this particular EVP. So he broke lockdown and everyone gathered in an outbuilding to have GAC’s EVP expert Billy Tolley examine it. Roy was taken aback when he realized they had been locked in.

GAC and Roy listened to the EVP a number of times. Roy was surprised to hear a background noise recorded that he had not heard with his ears during the EVP session.

The first few words of the EVP were clearly, “I killed ____ ____”. Eventually the group agreed the message was, “I…killed…six…kids…” Roy noted that the EVP was a man’s voice that sounded out of breath as if the speaker had just wielded an axe or had asthma.

Meanwhile GAC’s static camera captured video of a wide open second floor door closing itself.

After Roy had been introduced to EVP’s GAC style, Zak, Nick and Aaron headed back to lockdown. They resumed the investigation using a spirit box. Zak asked any local spirits if they were afraid of the guys. The spirit box replied, “No”. Zak asked whoever had answered to tell him their name. The spirit box said, “Lena” Zak got excited as that was the name of one of the neighbor girls killed on the main floor. He asked her, “Is that you Lena?” The spirit box asked, “…wanna… play?” Poor girl, it must have been boring to hang around her murder scene for nearly a century.

When Zak asked “Are you the little kid who lived here? What is your name?” he got a different answer. This time the spirit box said the name “Paul”. Paul was the youngest of the Moore children.

The crew went upstairs and Zak reverted to his signature provoking style. He demanded whatever was up there with him “…tell us your name!” The recorded response didn’t seem to be related to the question. It answered, “…everyone’s fine….” I think George Kelly was doing a snow job. None of his victims or the tag along entities drawn to the blood and violence of his crime seemed to be remotely fine.

Determined to get an answer, Zak persisted and asked, “What is the murderer’s name?” The response was, “Andy”. That was more lies from George Kelly’s ghost. Local transient Andy Sawyer had been arrested and questioned after startling his employer with comments about the Moore murders. Further suspicion was cast on Andy because he was known to sleep with an axe close at hand. Eventually employment records showed Andy was not in town the night of the murders. I think Andy was another off kilter personality. He obsessed about the murders, but my guides insisted he was not a participant. Andy was seriously paranoid and obsessive, but he wasn’t the killer.

GAC split up. Aaron was sent to the cellar of the house where growling and disembodied voices had been reported. Determined to focus on something other things that go bump in the night Aaron talked to the children killed in the house. He asked them, “Who hacked you guys up with the axe?” He got an EVP response, “They’re around upstairs.” The ghost children were right. George Kelly was upstairs continuing to frame Andy Sawyer.

Zak finally got to use the axe. He sat a few steps down from the top of the second floor stairs and propped the axe up near his head and demanded to know, “Is this the axe that you used to kill eight people?” He got back an EVP of evil sounding laughter.

Encouraged Zak taunted the murderer, “You want to keep killing? Push this axe into my face!” Lucky for him George or Legion didn’t take him up on it. Zak kept pushing, “Show me you are still here. That you are still hurting people. You need to leave them alone!” He got a disturbing EVP response “…we’re gonna leave them in the dark…” When Zak demanded why he got back, “…’cause they don’t step in heaven yet”. That sounded like George Kelly to me.

I think Zak realized he was talking to George because he knew which buttons to push when he accused whomever he was talking to of being a “sinner”. That stung because the retort was, “…yer going to give blood…”

At this point Nick’s EVP picked up a taunt that Zak interpreted as a threat. The EVP said, “Herman’s gonna get you!” I believe that was a game played among the Moore children. Herman was the eldest child and likely had his hands full trying to keep three younger siblings in check.

Nick’s final EVP for the episode was recorded in response to him asking, “What church were at before you came home?” The answer was odd, “…it’s a gathering place…” Zak thought the EVP referred to the Moore family’s church. I had a more sinister impression. I think Legion was talking again and was not referring to the local Presbyterian Church. I think the message meant the Moore house was a gathering place for unholy spirits and the trapped souls of the murder victims.

Four minutes after Nick left the area, one of GAC’s static cameras picked up a dark mist that exited the right side of the frame. Zak thought perhaps something had followed Nick. Could have been, there were many gray and dark energies in play at the Moore house.

Personally, I would prefer to never to tune into the energies there again.



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About Lynne Sutherland Olson

Professional Psychic Medium
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