Welcome to the Villisca Axe Murder House! This historic home, the site of tragic octuple murders in 1912, six of whom were children, remains America’s most gruesome and unsolved murder that struck down the young Moore family along with two children, the Stillingers, staying for a sleepover with the Moore Children. The 1,200 square foot house contains two stories and a cellar, and was originally constructed in 1900. Over the following ninety years, the “Villisca Axe Murder House” had 7 additional owners. Due to the small home’s tragic and violent history and frequent occurrences of unexplained events by visitors and residents, the home is recognized
In 1994, it was purchased by Darwin Lin and his wife of 40 years, Martha, and opened the house to the public for tours, overnight stays, and ghost hunters in 1998, following years of restorations that removed plumbing and electricity to the house. The Moore home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998 and received the “Preservation at its Best” award in the small public category from the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance in 1997.
Following Darwin’s unfortunate passing in 2011, his wife Martha took over operation of the house for the next twelve years, actively involved in operating the house with longtime manager Johnny Houser. In her 80s, Martha would pull weeds and engage with customers. In 2023, at the age of 87, Martha decided to retire and entered into a contract to sell the house in October to Lance Zaal, an entrepreneur and Marine Corps veteran, who has a history of purchasing and preserving historic homes across America, many of which are operated by US Ghost Adventures Llc that allow the public to take tours to learn about the stories and history of the homes, participate in special events, and stay overnight. The House officially changed ownership on January 5, 2024.
US Ghost Adventures operates historically authentic no-frill ghost tours, haunted pub crawls, and ghost hunts in over 100 cities in the United States in 30 states; in addition to virtual events, operating and preserving historic homes like the Lizzie Borden House in Massachusetts and Brickhouse Inn in Gettysburg; and a product line of novelty haunted products, like Lily, a halloween “elf on the shelf”. In the summer of 2024, the company launched the world’s most reliable, durable, and quality ghost hunting equipment line under Ghost Daddy, after realizing the current ghost hunting products available on the marker were very cheaply made, poorly packaged, overpriced, unreliable, had a low lifespan for ghost hunts, requiring batters, and broke often; among other issues.
Its sister company, Junket, provides food tours, brewery tours, special events, historic tours, and specialty experiences across the country.
Read more about the murders and the restoration of the house here.