For a Memorable Night Away, Book a Stay at the Axe Murder House

Atlas Obscura
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June 5 2014 9:34 AM

For a Memorable Night Away, Book a Stay at the Axe Murder House

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Looking for unique accommodation for your next holiday weekend away? You could always book a night or two in the Iowa home where eight people were brutally slaughtered in their beds.

In 1912, this Villisca house belonged to the Moore family: married couple Josiah and Sarah and their young children Herman, Katherine, Boyd, and Paul. On the night of June 9, the family returned from Children's Day services at the local church, accompanied by two of the girls' friends: eight-year-old Ina Stillinger and her 12-year-old sister Lena.

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Some time between midnight and 5 am, an unknown person entered the house and murdered every person inside by striking their head with an axe. From observations at the crime scene it appears that all were asleep at the time they were killed apart from Lena, who exhibited a defensive wound on her arm and was positioned across her bed.

Over a century later, the case remains unsolved. The main suspect, traveling minister Reverend George Kelly, had taught at the church on June 9 and left town at approximately 5 am the next day. He was tried twice but never convicted.

The Villisca Axe Murder House, as it is now bluntly known, was purchased in 1994 by Darwin and Martha Linn and restored to its 1912 state for public tours. If a daytime walk through the premises doesn't give you enough of a thrill, you can stay overnight in one of the blood-soaked bedrooms. House rental is $428 per night for up to six people.


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