Ax Murder – Cast of Characters

Sometime during the evening of June 9, 1912, eight people were bludgeoned to death with an ax in Villisca, Iowa.  None had received injuries below the neck but the head of all the victims was beaten totally beyond the possibility of recognition.  Let me introduce you to the main characters in this frightening tale that led up to a horrendous mass murder and the darkest night in Villisca’s history.  Let’s start with the victims.

Josiah Moore - 43Josiah Moore was 43 years old at the time of his death.  He was one of seventeen children and grew up on a farm near Villisca.  He worked in the farm implement business and eventually opened a John Deere dealership.  He was outgoing, a natural salesman and people liked him.

Sara Montgomery Moore - 39Sarah Montgomery Moore was 39 at the time of her death.  Born in Illinois, she moved to Iowa with her family in 1894. Her father became a well-known farmer in the Villisca area and Sarah married her husband, Josiah Moore, on December 6, 1899.  She was the mother of four children and very active in the Presbyterian Church.

The children:  Herman Moore (11 years old); Katherine Moore (10), Boyd Moore (7) and Paul Moore (5).

Also visiting for the evening were the children of a neighbor who lived approximately two miles away:  Lena Gertrude Stillinger (12) and Ina May Stillinger (9).


Herman Moore - 11Katherine Moore - 10Boyd Moore - 7Paul Moore - 5Lena Gertrude Stillinger - 12Ina May Stillinger - 9