June 10, 2001 was the 89th anniversary of Iowa's worst mass homicide, the 1912 Villisca axe murders.  It is appropriate, particularly on this date, to remember the people whose lives were taken at the hands of a killer or killers unknown:

Josiah B. Moore, his wife Sara Moore, their children Herman, Katherine, Boyd, and Paul, and guests Lena and Ina Stillinger.

The infamous crime split the town for decades and debate over how the event should be remembered continues today.  Behind the mystery are real people whose lives were irreparably altered.

In honor of the victims and their families, we want to share a portion of our script for the documentary feature film Villisca: Living With a Mystery.


FADE IN:

 

NARRATOR:

The beginning of that summer day could not have been more ordinary.

As the 5:20 morning train pulled into Villisca Iowa's depot, Reverend George Kelly climbed aboard on his way home to nearby Macedonia.
Two miles south of town, farmer Joe Stillinger and his sons arose early, as always, and began milking their cows. farm_02.jpg (16662 bytes)
Mrs. Stillinger, already busy in the house, began wondering why two of her daughters had not returned from an overnight stay with friends in town.
As stores and shops began to open, State Representative and banker Frank Jones walked a block from his hardware store to survey progress on the construction of a new bank. street_01.jpg (22913 bytes)
Years later, everyone in and around Villisca remembered where they were and what they were doing on that gray June morning. house_03.jpg (27682 bytes)
North of the town square, at 508 East 2nd Street, a small white house stood curiously closed and quiet.

 

house_02.jpg (22523 bytes)
Photographs provided by: the Villisca Review, Dr. Harold Muschamp, the Stillinger family, Virgil Anderson, Dr. Edgar Epperly, and the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Archives.

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