5 SECRET Facts About the Villisca Axe Murders! A Look into the Historical Murders that Inspired Genesis: The Awakening!

On a quiet residential street in this small town sits an old white frame house. On a dark evening, the absence of lights and sounds are the first indication to visitors that this house is different from the other homes that surround it. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice her doors and windows are tightly closed and covered. An outhouse in the backyard suggests that this house does not occupy a place in the 21st century but somehow belongs in another era or another story. A weather-beaten sign warns rather than welcomes. This is the “Murder House”.

The Villisca axe murders occurred between the evening of June 9, 1912, and early morning of June 10, 1912, in the town of Villisca in southwestern Iowa. The six members of the Moore family and two house guests were found bludgeoned in the Moore residence. All eight victims, including six children, had severe head wounds from an axe. A lengthy investigation yielded several suspects, one of whom was tried twice. The first trial ended in a hung jury and the second in an acquittal. The crime remains unsolved.

If you haven’t gotten your hands on Genesis: The Awakening yet I highly recommend you stop what you’re doing (yes, that includes reading this blog post) and snatch that thing up!

For those of you who have read Genesis, you’ll know that the Villisca Axe Murder house in Villisca Iowa is central to the plot of the story. A murderer is on the loose in the small collegiate town where our heroes Victoria Bouchard and Grim Reaper Kaizer Dresden reside, and if Kaizer doesn’t move quickly to eliminate the threat, the powerful immortals who cursed him to live on earth will be beating down his door looking for answers.

Despite all the interference from Archdemons and nosy siblings, Kaizer and Victoria are eventually led back to the Axe Murder house where a demon has set up camp, using the souls of the damned victims as bait. As they leap through a portal into the nightmarish realm the demon calls home, our genius heroine speculates that perhaps the original axe weilder was really a servant of the devil all along.

If you don’t know much about the axe murders, here are FIVE secret facts that they won’t tell you in history books.

5: Villisca (Wallisca) is a Native American word which means “evil spirit.”

According to “The Dictionary of Iowa Place Names” Villisca got its name from the Sac and Fox Indian word “waliska,” meaning evil spirit. White settlers of the region mistook the name for meaning “Beautiful View” or “Pretty Place”. When they discovered their mistake, they were quick to cover it up. But there’s no doubt the name left a dark stain on the town, mostly due to the brutal murders that followed.

4: The main suspect was a Reverend.

The Rev. Lyn George Jacklin Kelly, the only man tried for the eight Villisca axe murders of 1912 and a preacher with a well-documented reputation for deviant sexual behavior, served as minister at the Carroll Presbyterian Church for nearly a year following the internationally notorious slayings, as southern Iowa officials

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Reverend Kelly and his wife Laura Kelly.

focused on other suspects.

To be sure, the nearly century-old still-unsolved southern Iowa murder spree is one of the creepiest, compelling episodes in the history of the state, and the fact that more Iowans, particularly in the western part of the state, don’t know about this case is evidence of a breakdown in the teaching of Iowa history.

3: The murder weapon is on display.

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You can view the head of the actual axe used in the murders if you visit the Axe Murder house in Iowa today. You can also book investigations and overnight stays at the house, for a fee…if you’re brave enough.

2: There were neighbors sleeping next door when the Moores and Stillengers were killed.

Mary Peckham, the Moores’ neighbor, became concerned after she noticed that the Moore family had not come out to do their morning chores. Peckham knocked on the Moores’ door. When nobody answered, she tried to open the door and discovered that it was locked. Peckham let the Moores’ chickens out and called Ross Moore, Josiah Moore’s brother. Like Peckham, Moore received no response when he knocked on the door and shouted. He unlocked the front door with his copy of the house key. While Peckham stood on the porch, Moore went into the parlor and opened the guest bedroom door, where he found Ina and Lena Stillinger’s bodies on the bed. Moore immediately told Peckham to call Hank Horton, Villisca’s primary peace officer who arrived shortly thereafter. Horton’s search of the house revealed that the entire Moore family and the two Stillinger girls had been bludgeoned to death. The murder weapon, an axe belonging to Josiah, was found in the guest room where the Stillinger sisters were found.

Mary slept peacefully in her bed the night before. Most historian’s find this often overlooked fact extremely strange. In the quiet early 1900’s, it’d be almost impossible to not hear a single sound when eight people are being brutally murdered.

1: Reverend Kelly confessed to the crimes but was not indicted.

One major reason students of the case today and prosecutors in 1917, including then Attorney General Horace Havner, believed Kelly to be the killer is an obvious one: He confessed to the crimes in a signed statement, saying God called him from the Villisca preacher’s house to commit the murders.

“I was lying in bed at the home of Reverend Ewing on the night of the murders and heard a voice say, `Rise, Peter, slay and eat,’” Kelly told investigators, according to Marshall’s book.

In his confession Kelly also would say: “I thought I was the grandson of God. I am ready to do it again.”

At one point Kelly told his interrogators, according to court documents, that “I killed the children upstairs first and the children downstairs last. I knew God wanted me to do it this way. `Slay utterly’ came to my mind, and I picked up the axe, went into the house and killed them.”

What do YOU think happened all those years ago? Let me know your theories! And don’t forget, you can read my take on the Villisca Axe Murder’s in Genesis: The Awakening!

Sources:

Iowa Independent

Wikipedia

Villisca Iowa Homepage

 

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#Winterborn Character Introductions and Fan Casting!

I have a secret to confess. I’ve been working on a project for about six months now, steadily hacking away at it in secrecy. But, no more! I’m ready to share Winterborn with you in all its greatness and imperfection!

Winterborn was a project I started as a way to get back to my Paranormal Romance roots, so to speak. Growing up, I was enamored with Vampires, Werewolves, and Witches, the quintessential staple of Paranormal and fantasy literature. It’s been years since I’ve written about any of them and I thought it was high time that I featured them in my work. Thus, a dinky little five-thousand-word short story was birthed and promptly forgotten about. That is, until I realized the little nagging feeling I felt at the back of my brain wasn’t going to go away until I stared my characters in the face and said: “Okay, the hell do you want from me?”

Enter Winterborn’s main characters, Edna, Byron, and Seth. Old school names for an old school story and a plot rife with elements I haven’t touched for years. This blog post will serve as an introduction to the characters and plotline of a story that is not yet completed but is quickly cementing itself as one of my favorite books not yet written.

Main Characters: 

Edna Deveaux Ersland: 

The great granddaughter of Evelyn Deveaux, a Haitian Mambo (Voodoo

Edna Deveaux Ersland played by Amandla Stenberg
Edna Deveaux Ersland played by Amandla Stenberg

priestess) who brought black magic to the French Creole after migrating from Haiti in the midst of the Haitian-French Revolution and slave uprising started by Toussaint Louverture. She is the subject of a “Final Destination” style generational curse that’s actively trying to kill her. Head over heels for Byron Lee since they were kids, she’s dedicated to keeping the newly transformed wolf out of trouble, even when he’s more of a danger to himself than anyone else. Edna, although an adult at twenty-three, is a classic teenager dying to escape from a controlling parent. Having no real concept of time and being an Ancient, Seth quite literally treats her like a child, which is almost entirely to blame for her rebellion and her constant need to test the boundaries of their parent-child relationship. Part of her wants to see how far she can push the Vampire, the rest of her enjoys the danger it brings because she knows without a doubt that he would A, never hurt her, and B, he’ll always be there to have her back.

In a Nutshell: Edna is an extraordinarily powerful young woman in love with a man both her controlling father-figure and the world want dead. Having the power to keep him alive isn’t the issue, it’s fighting off her own demons that will determine their survival.

Byron Lee Wallace:

Byron is the literal boy next door. He grew up in Warwick Rhode Island beside the Ersland Manor and moved back recently after his alcoholic father was murdered by Ioan Sharks. This move comes years after the drunken brute beat

Byron Lee Wallace played by Joo Hyuk Nam
Byron Lee Wallace played by Joo Hyuk Nam

his sickly mother to death. Because of his hard, strictly religious, upbringing, Byron has always longed for a normal life (white picket fence, the whole nine yards), a prospect that was stolen from him permanently when he was attacked, bitten, and subsequently transformed into a Lycan. He was found one night by his childhood friend and crush Edna, clinging to the shreds of his humanity after accidentally mauling a young woman to death, and she’s been taking care of him ever since. He openly returns the witch’s feelings but, after several mishaps where he’s accidentally scratched and even bitten her, he tries to keep his distance. Much to her dismay. Byron lives in a perpetual whirlwind of guilt, self-pity, and self-deprecation because he blames himself not only for the woman he killed the night of his transformation but for the murders and missing persons cropping up all over town. He still has a very human mindset and has not yet completely transitioned into the realm of the supernatural. Where death, missing persons, and magic are an everyday occurrence for everyone else, he still sees things through the eyes (and morals) of a mortal. He’s a welpling, a literal puppy who’s still in the midst of learning to control his transformations and will be forced to grow up very, very soon.

In a Nutshell: Byron takes being a good person to an entirely new level, but he’s soon to realize that being a good guy and staying alive doesn’t always fall in line. Watch him grow into a formidable force as he realizes that protecting his mate means more to him than his father’s religon ever could.

Seth Ersland:

Seth is a very old Vampire. So old that his personal history is lost to antiquity. (Okay, let’s cut the crap, Seth is Dracula. Literally, the OG Vampire himself. But that’s just between you and me.) Rumor has it, he met Evelyn during the French Revolution and aided her escape to the American South. No one really knows the relationship they shared, but Seth took it upon himself to watch her cursed

Seth Ersland played by Valery Kovtun
Seth Ersland played by Valery Kovtun

family after her unfortunate passing. Some suspect that the two were lovers and her dealings in black magic allowed her to give birth to Seth’s children, thus creating the curse that has now all but wiped them out. The master Vampire has lovingly admitted to having been reduced to a “Housewife with fangs” and it is noted by Lenora Bulwer (a Huntress and agent of the Vatican) that bringing him out of “retirement” would be extremely bad for anyone who crossed his path. Lenora hints at his power and at the fact that he was born Vlad Dracul, the former ruler of Wallachia in what is now modern day Romania. Why he abandoned his life after his suspected death in 1476 is up for debate and is purely speculation. After Edna returns home covered in unexplained cuts and bruises he discovers her illicit relationship with Byron and contracts Lenora into hunting and killing the wolf. He is extremely protective over the last of Evelyn’s brood (and possibly the last of his living bloodline) and will stop at nothing to keep Edna alive. He also could or could not be responsible for all the disappearances in Rhode Island and has a fondness for burning beautiful houses to the ground.

In a Nutshell: Seth is daddy,  by all meanings of the word, and someone you’ll want to keep your eye on. He loves his child, takes care of all who are indentured to him, and rains merciless hell on anyone who even thinks to abuse those he loves.

Stay tuned for more about Winterborn, including more character introductions, the Antagonists, Supporting Cast, and MUCH much more!

Until then, check out the official Pinterest Board for Winterborn! https://www.pinterest.com/KyunnieHuang/winterborn/

Winterborn Fan Casting List:

Seth Ersland: Valery Kovtun

Edna Deveaux: Amandla Stenberg

Byron Lee Wallace: Joo Hyuk Nam

Lenora Bulwer: Bryce Dallas Howard

Finn Larsen: Linus Wordemann

Nick Brawler: Froy Gutierrez

Horace Watt: Buster Keaton

George Cunningham: Adam Beach

Evelyn Deveaux: Theresa Theresa

The Winterborn Cast
The Winterborn Cast