Josiah Moore

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The Victims

The “Murder House”

Villisca Axe Murder Mystery

In the early 1900’s, Villisca Iowa, a midwestern town of 2500, was flourishing. Businesses lined the streets and several dozen trains pulled into the depot on a daily basis. According to D.N. Smith, a Chicago, Burlington, Quincy Railroad employee, Villisca meant “Pretty Place” or “Pleasant View.”

In 1912, the town built the only publicly funded Armory in the state of Iowa. The Company housed there participated in the 1916 Mexican Expedition, WWI and WWII, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. During World War II, Montgomery County lost more men per capita than any other county in the United States. Villisca surely contributed several of her own to that number.

Unfortunately for the citizens of this close-knit community, however, these accomplishments will be forever overshadowed by the horrific deaths of eight of their own. On June 10, 1912, the tranquility of this “Pretty Place” was shattered by the discovery of the Villisca Axe murders. The Moore Family, well-known and well-liked Villisca residents and two overnight guests were found murdered in their beds. Little known to it’s residents was the possibility that their town was named, not after a “pretty place” but for the Indian word “Wallisca” which means “evil spirit.”

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