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Lorelilly

Villisca Murders

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A horrific murder of 8 people asleep in a farm house in Villisca, Iowa in 1912. Never solved. I thought Lizzie Borden killing her parents with an Axe was bad, well this killer Axed 8 people. Very creepy.

http://www.villiscam...om/story_01.htm

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so sad because of the children involved, as well.

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Posted (edited)

so sad because of the children involved, as well.

I still can't figure out why none of them woke up? He must have went in like a trained killer. This case is just so ..odd. Edited by Lorelilly
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He took the parents out 1st. Makes sense. Maybe the kids did hear and woke up but wouldn't do them much good. None of the neighbors heard anything. The town was a train hub so a killer on the move makes a certain sense. Maybe a serial killer.

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He took the parents out 1st. Makes sense. Maybe the kids did hear and woke up but wouldn't do them much good. None of the neighbors heard anything. The town was a train hub so a killer on the move makes a certain sense. Maybe a serial killer.

Good point about the train!
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This is an interesting site. It also contains what is presumed to be the only extant photo from inside the house after the murders.

http://docublogger.typepad.com/villiscamystery/2011/05/villisca-crime-scene-photos.html

The mirrors in the house were covered by the murderer. Because he couldn't look at himself? Because he didn't want to see what he had done? Because he didn't want the victims to see the mess he'd made of them?

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This case is so sad! Too bad they never solved it.

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No matter how many threads pop up about this, I think it's a crazy crime every time.

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Posted (edited)

No matter how many threads pop up about this, I think it's a crazy crime every time.

Yup, they were making monsters way, way back. I love the website you linked on a previous post. " Bruce Stillians, the son of a local druggist, was one of many private citizens who streamed through the house before police gained control of the murder scene" One thing is for sure, modern forensics has come a long way. Edited by Lorelilly
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Yup, they were making monsters way, way back. I love the website you linked on a previous post. " Bruce Stillians, the son of a local druggist, was one of many private citizens who streamed through the house before police gained control of the murder scene" One thing is for sure, modern forensics has come a long way.

I know they used smell hounds but because of the human traffic in and out of the house, no useful leads were found. If you look at photos, the houses were reasonably close which makes the fact that no neighbors reported any sounds very unusual. One of the little girls murdered downstairs had defense marks on her arms so obviously at least one person was awake when it was happening.

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Reading the article a serial killer theory seems entirely plausible.........

"

The fall of 1911 had seen a spectacular series of horrible murders in the Midwest. Every two weeks that fall whole families were slaughtered in their beds without apparent reason. On Sunday, September 17, 1911 in Colorado Springs, two families—the Burnhams and the Waynes, who lived next to each other—were all killed with an axe as they slept. Two weeks later in Monmouth, Illinois, William Dawson, his wife, and thirteen-year-old daughter met a similar fate. Just as in Villisca, shades were drawn, bodies covered, and the thirteen-year-old Dawson girl seemed to be the only victim who had moved after the killer struck. A length of gas pipe had been the murder weapon.

The next in this suspected series of killings occurred in Ellsworth, Kansas on Sunday night, October 15. Will Showman, his wife, and three children were bludgeoned to death as they slept. The murder axe was found leaning behind the door connecting the tiny house’s two rooms. It had been washed, but remnants of blood and hair still clung to it. As at Villisca, there was a lamp at the foot of the parent’s bed whose chimney was later found under a kitchen chair. All bodies were covered with bedclothes when found.

The final similar murder preceding Villisca happened in Paola, Kansas on Wednesday night, June 5, 1912, just four days before Villisca. Rolland and Anna Hudson, a young couple who had moved from Ohio a few months before, were found murdered in their beds. No weapon was ever found, but it appeared a pickaxe or mason’s hammer had been used. Again, the victims had been covered and no obvious motive was apparent."

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Reading the article a serial killer theory seems entirely plausible.........

"

The fall of 1911 had seen a spectacular series of horrible murders in the Midwest. Every two weeks that fall whole families were slaughtered in their beds without apparent reason. On Sunday, September 17, 1911 in Colorado Springs, two families—the Burnhams and the Waynes, who lived next to each other—were all killed with an axe as they slept. Two weeks later in Monmouth, Illinois, William Dawson, his wife, and thirteen-year-old daughter met a similar fate. Just as in Villisca, shades were drawn, bodies covered, and the thirteen-year-old Dawson girl seemed to be the only victim who had moved after the killer struck. A length of gas pipe had been the murder weapon.

The next in this suspected series of killings occurred in Ellsworth, Kansas on Sunday night, October 15. Will Showman, his wife, and three children were bludgeoned to death as they slept. The murder axe was found leaning behind the door connecting the tiny house’s two rooms. It had been washed, but remnants of blood and hair still clung to it. As at Villisca, there was a lamp at the foot of the parent’s bed whose chimney was later found under a kitchen chair. All bodies were covered with bedclothes when found.

The final similar murder preceding Villisca happened in Paola, Kansas on Wednesday night, June 5, 1912, just four days before Villisca. Rolland and Anna Hudson, a young couple who had moved from Ohio a few months before, were found murdered in their beds. No weapon was ever found, but it appeared a pickaxe or mason’s hammer had been used. Again, the victims had been covered and no obvious motive was apparent."

Good Lord, I had no idea about those murders. I wish we had a clue who it was. Might have been interesting to dissect what made this killer tick.
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If it was someone from the town or neighboring area, someone would have known. These people were pretty God fearing and a secret like that wouldn't have lasted long.

The idea of a serial killer moving from town to town makes sense to me.

The only problem is that info about these murders is very limited. The axe is used in some murders but not in others.

Home invasion appears to be a common thread.

It's a very interesting and perplexing case.

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Some have said a priest did the killing.who knows

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Some have said a priest did the killing.who knows

I've never heard of a priest being involved.

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Love to see the film.

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The mirrors in the house were covered by the murderer. Because he couldn't look at himself? Because he didn't want to see what he had done? Because he didn't want the victims to see the mess he'd made of them?

Used to be, the belief was during mourning to cover mirrors to prevent the dead from coming back. You'd see this often during funerals at home, and in days after a death in their home. So, whoever did this, was thinking to keep them gone, or one of them specifically from coming back and haunting the place or him/her.

As for the priest, yes, one of the suspects (and one of my favored suspects) was an itinerant pastor/preacher they were helping. If I recall correctly, the mother had even set out a meal for him downstairs in the kitchen that evening. Impossible to know from all the evidence and tales I have read through, but he is the one, in my gut feeling, who did it. Bet you he was an early "the voice of God told me to do it" class of killer. Lots of repression and twisted self hate exploded in that house that night.

But, without more coming to light, we can't know for sure after so long :(

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Used to be, the belief was during mourning to cover mirrors to prevent the dead from coming back. You'd see this often during funerals at home, and in days after a death in their home. So, whoever did this, was thinking to keep them gone, or one of them specifically from coming back and haunting the place or him/her.

As for the priest, yes, one of the suspects (and one of my favored suspects) was an itinerant pastor/preacher they were helping. If I recall correctly, the mother had even set out a meal for him downstairs in the kitchen that evening. Impossible to know from all the evidence and tales I have read through, but he is the one, in my gut feeling, who did it. Bet you he was an early "the voice of God told me to do it" class of killer. Lots of repression and twisted self hate exploded in that house that night.

But, without more coming to light, we can't know for sure after so long :(

I agree with you that the covering of the mirrors was significant but I don't think it was for the reason you make. I really do think it was just that he couldn't look at what he had done. I did originally think it was to stop light shining out of the windows but I discarded that as not making sense. Why would the murderer give a crap about one of his victims returning and haunting the place?

Unless it was a personal crime and by that, I mean that he was known to his victims.

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I think it's highly likely that at least a few of the cases are linked, and that this case is among those.

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September 1911, 6 people killed in Colorado Springs. October 1911, 3 people killed in Monmouth Ill, then 5 in Ellsworth, Kansas. June 5 1912, 2 people killed in Paola, Kansas. Every one of these murders was committed with an ax.

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Sept 17 1911 - Colorado

Oct 1 1911 - Illinois

Oct 15 1911 - Kansas

June 5 1912 - Kansas

June10 1912 - Villisca, Iowa

These are the serial murders which are similar to Villisca. The 1st 3 are fortnightly, then there is a long break, then the 2nd last is only a week before Villisca.

Someone on the move, someone without a family or ties. Why the break in the middle? In jail perhaps. A bit like Jack the Ripper except Jack wasn't so mobile.

Interesting. I think the railway has a lot to do with it.

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Antilles, I guess you've read about The McClaughry Theory. McClaughry was in law enforcement at the time and he theorized that Henry Lee Moore, who was convicted in the murder of his mother and grandmother in Columbia, Missouri (12-1912), was also responsible for those 5 other cases.

He might be right, heck I don't know. Certainly, several of the cases appear to be of the same perp.

Hey, that Villisca documentary is hard to find. :td:

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Maybe this has been covered by someone in another thread, but what is the leading theory on the killer having to have been short because of the upstairs ceilings? Seems that part was brushed over a bit in the article.

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Well, there were ax marks in the ceiling. Does that point towards a tall or short murderer?

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Never heard of these before--how gruesome. But they do seem related, don't they?

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