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“Gruesome Iowa” by Nick Vulich

Murder, Madness, and the Macabre in the Hawkeye State

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Murder, madness, and the macabre in Iowa? You’ve got to be kidding!

When most people think of Iowa, their minds conjure up pigs, cornfields, and crotchety old farmers. But ax murders, mass killings, and ghostly sightings – those atrocities are reserved for big cities like Chicago or LA, not a little burg like Villisca, Iowa – population 2,000.

People refuse to believe that a hundred years ago, every eye in the nation turned to Villisca, Iowa where eight people were butchered in their sleep by a madman using only an ax. Attention quickly turned to the Reverend Lyn Kelley, “a queer, strange, little preacher man”, often accused of window peeping.

The police forced a confession from him.

Kelley said he was walking by the Moore house when a voice commanded him to, “Go in. Slay utterly”. What could he do? He climbed the stairs and slaughtered the children. “Slay utterly. Suffer the little children”.

Back downstairs, he went into the parent’s bedroom. “More work yet. There must be sacrifices of blood”. Again, the ax did its work.

In another downstairs bedroom, he discovered the Stillinger girls, asleep in their beds. “More work still”. The ax resumed its work.

Eight people were dead. The ax was satisfied.

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