My Ghost Encounter at the Villisca Axe Murder House

In 1912 someone – or something I suppose – brutally murdered eight people while they slept in their home with an axe they taken from the family’s yard.

The victims include a Josiah Moore, his wife, their four children and two neighbor girls spending the night. All were brutally beaten with the blunt end of an axe.

I’m not a big believer in ghosts, not that I don’t believe in them either. Usually when I see a show on TV or something on the Internet I think that it’s interesting and kind of spooky, but yet still possible that someone off screen is pushing the ball or slamming the door or whispering “Get Out.”

I do believe that they may exist, I’ve just never seen one. I feel the same ways about UFOs from another planet, Bigfoot, and Loch Ness Monster.

With that in mind I headed home from Des Moines, Iowa, on a recent afternoon and on my way made a stop at the Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa.

I had been through Villisca and the area several times as a sports reporter, but never really had much time to stop and find this historic site. I had heard stories of course, and am very guilty of making some jokes now again at the horrible situation. One in particular I’m not exactly proud of was making a poster of this photo with the phrase “We’re going to Villisca” in big letters across the top. Everyone in the newsroom wanted a copy and several, I’m told, still hang up in cubicles there some seven years later. Ok, to be honest I am kind of proud of that.

I arrived in town just after the 4 p.m. deadline to take the tour, but still found my way to the house. Three cars were parked on the street but nobody seemed to be inside. Still, the small barn and the basement were open and I looked around for someone there to see if it was ok to look around. I never did find anyone, nor was I able to go inside the house, but that didn’t stop me from walking around and taking a few photos.

The house is reportedly haunted by the victims of the crime. The official site offers a free virtual tour, but in person tours are $10. If you’re brave enough you and five friends can spend the night in the house for $400. It’s a lot of the overnight visitors have reported many odd happenings. There are YouTube videos of doors opening and closing, balls rolling to visitors (click here, here, here or here), a flashlight moving, and lots of recorded noises and voices.

When I got home and uploaded my photos. I looked through each of them, zooming in and out. I focused most of my attention to the windows.

First photos of the house … nothing.

Searched the photos of the house, a small blur on a widow, likely a smudge on the glass. Photos of the barn, nothing. Photos of the cellar entrance. Again, nothing. I got to my last photo, and zoomed into the attic … “What’s that white thing?” I thought. I zoomed in more and can see what appears to be the outline of a face, a child’s face, looking out the window.

I’m not saying it’s a ghost, but I am saying it’s something. Something that’s not in the other photos I took from nearly the exact same place. And it’s in the attic window. The attic is where much of the accounts of the activity show up. Also, if you look at photo 4, a picture from the barn showing the victims I think the “ghost” looks eerily similar to the eldest boy, but make up your own mind.

So there it is. Has this changed my mind about ghosts? Not really, but it’s made me a little less skeptical.

I plan on returning soon and taking the whole tour, maybe I’ll have some more answers then … and more photos.

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