100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Axe Murderer Strikes Killing 8 In Iowa

There have been a series of axe murders taking place across the mid-western US in the last nine months. That last one took place 5 days ago.


On June 10, 1912 at 5:00am Mary Peckham of Villisca, Iowa went to hang laundry in her yard. By the time she was done, she had noticed her neighbors, Josiah and Sarah Moore had not only failed to come out to start their chores but the house was unusually quiet for a household with 4 children. At 7:00am she knocked on the door and got no response. When she tried the door, it was locked from the inside. She called Josiah’s brother who after failing to get an answer from inside the house, used his keys to enter. He saw nothing in the parlor but once he entered the bedroom, he saw 2 bodies on the bed and blood. He told Mrs. Peckham to call the sheriff and went on to discover 2 more bodies in a downstairs room, Lena and Ina Stillinger, children who were house guests of the Moore’s. The rest of the Moore family was found dead upstairs when the city marshal arrived. All 8 people had been brutally murdered with their skulls crushed as they slept. The victims were the Stllinger sisters, age 8 and 12, the Moores and their children – Herman 11, Katherine 9, Boyd 7 and Paul 5. An axe was left at the crime scene.

The night before had been the annual Children’s Day Program at the Presbyterian Church which began at 8:00pm. Sarah Moore, her 4 children and the Stillinger girls all participated while Josiah Moore sat in the audience. The program ended at 9:30pm. The Moore family and the Stillinger sisters walked home from the church. They entered their home sometime between 9:45 and 10:00pm.

The windows that had curtains had them drawn, all windows were covered with clothing belonging to the Moores. As in previous murders, the victims faces were covered with clothing after they had been killed. Kerosene lamps with their glass chimneys removed were found at the foot of the bed of the elder Moores and the Stillinger sisters. No photos of the crime scene has been taken, no fingerprints searched for as this is a new technique used sparsely in big cities. Investigating officials have no real leads in the case.

The official website of the Villisca Murder House :http://www.villiscaiowa.com/index.php

The Moore House – murder scene in Villisca, Iowa
June 10, 1912

Josiah (left), Katherine, Herman, and Sara Moore

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