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Villisca Axe Murders, 1912


Posted By: Sharyl Ferrall (email)
Date: 6/6/2006 at 23:19:12

The following newspaper articles, from newspapers all over the country, detail the brutal murder of a Montgomery co. family & their houseguests in 1912, the hunt for their killers and several 'questionable' confessions. I don't believe the actual murderer was ever apprehended & brought to trial, but don't know for sure. I came across mention of the murders and found the entire case intreguing, but I have no further information. Just wanted to share what I found .....


Family and Visitors Killed - All Meet Their Deaths in Bed, Murderer Makes His Escape - Robbery Was Not Committed; Motive for Crime is Unknown
Villisca, Iowa, June 10, 1912 -- Joseph Moore, a leading Villisca business man, his wife and four children and two visitors were found murdered in their beds today at the Moore home. Their heads had been crushed and a blood-stained ax was found in the house. The dead:
Joseph Moore and wife
Herman Moore, 11 years old
Catherine Moore, 9 years old
Boyd Moore, 7 years old
Paul Moore, 6 years old
Miss Edith Spillinger, 20 years old
Miss Blanche Spillinger, 18 years old.

Owing to the terrible mutilation the identity of the two women could not at first be established. The were believed to be Mrs. Van Gilder and her daughter, relatives of the Moores. Later they were positiviely identified as the Spillinger sisters, daughters of a wealthy farmer living a few miles from Villisca, who had been in attendance at a church entertainment here last night.

No robbery was committed and the motive for the crime is unknown. Horses neighing in the barn at the Moore home caused a woman neighbor to notice that no member of the family appeared to be up and about the house. She investigated, and after failing to effect an entrance to the front door, called her husband who also failed. The city marshal then was summoned and the doors forced.

Moore was the manager of an implement concern and a leader in business and social circles.

Arrested At Nehawka For Iowa Murder
Nehawka, Neb., June 13, 1912 -- Sam Moyer was arrested here yesterday afternoon on suspicion of his having knowledge of the murder of his brother-in-law, J.B. Moore, and seven other members of the Moore family last Sunday night at Villisca, Ia. The arrest was made by Sheriff Jackson and a detective, both from Villisca, who are said to have traced Moyer from the scene of the murder. Moyer came here to visit at the home of his son, Charles Bates, who was adopted by Walker Bates when he was one year old. Moyer's wife died about twenty-five yeras ago shortly after the birth of her son. Mrs. Moore, one of the eight victims of the murderer, was a sister of Moyer. The latter had had a number of quarrels with his sister and brother-in-law, and it was testified to at the cornoer's inquest at Villisca that Moyer had made threats to get even with Moore.

Niece of the Moores Assists in the Hunt
Villisca, Ia., June 15, 1912 -- On receipt of a telegram from Sheriff, W.F. Fitzpatrick, of Warren county, Illinois, County Attorney Ratcliffe left hurriedly late last night for Monmouth, Ill., accompanied by Miss Fay Van Gilder, the 16-year-old niece of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph B. Moore, the victims of last Sunday night's octuple assassination. They went to see if Miss Van Gilder could identify the man under arrest there as a man with whom she talked on the Saturday morning preceding the murders. The young woman related that she was accosted by a stranger who inquired where the home of the Moores ws located. Later, when she told Mrs. Moore of the occurrence, the latter said a man answering the description of the stranger had been hanging about their place. The Monmouth suspect who gives the name of Joe Ricks, told the Illinois officers that he came from Clarinda, Ia., a town 15 miles from here.

Traces of Fiend Fade in the Hunt
Manmouth, Ill., June 15, 1912 - Joe Ricks, held here in connection with the Moore murder at Villisca, Ia., is not the man Fay Van Gilder saw "acting in a suspicious manner," near Villisca a few days before the murder. Miss Van Gilder, who came here today with her mother, Mrs. Emma Van Gilder and District Attorney Ratcliffe, of Villisca, declared as soon as she was brought face to face with Ricks that he was not the man. Ricks has given a fairly good account of himself to the authorities. He said that the bloodstained shoes he was wearing when arrested he had obtained in a trade from a tramp.

Similarity of Case To Colorado Horror
Colorado Springs, Col., June 15, 1912 -- Police officials who are in constant touch with the Villisca authorities find added parallels in the Moore and the Burnham-Wayne murders, which are difficult to explain by the theory that the same person or persons committed both crimes. In Villisca the murderer strung skirts and aprons across the windows to prevent any one from looking into the house. At the Wayne and Burnham homes bed spreads were stretched across the windows. In Villisca, he covered the heads of the victims with bed clothing, wiped the blood from his axe and removed the stains from his hands and clothing; and this, too, was the case here. Here, as in the Iowa town, the doors were locked, an unfastened rear window in each instance affording an means of entrance for the ax man.

Murderer Was Concealed in Down Stairs Closet
Omaha, Neb., June 15, 1912 -- Mrs. Retta Johnson of this city, who accompanied Miss Minnie Moore, a sister of the murdered Joseph Moore, to Villisca Monday, has returned from that place. "Had Mr. Moore or Mrs. Moore looked into a closet, off from the room where the Stillinger girls slept, they would have seen the murderer, and probably have prevented the crime," said Mrs. Johnson. "Several bags of cotton batting found in the closet showed the marks of a man having sat and stood upon them." Mrs. Johnson says that the identity of the murderer may be determined by a piece of a watch chain which was found in the bed where the Stillinger girls were killed. It had been broken loose, and is believed to have been torn by the larger of the girls, who is thought to have struggled with her slayer. "No one can explain why an unoccupied bed in the front room had been made by Mrs. Moore, and yet never occupied," continued Mrs. Johnson. "One theory is that they had expected another party to stay all night with them, but friends say that is not true." Miss Moore, the sister, will return to Omaha Saturday. She attended the funeral Wednesday.

Hold Suspect For Villisca Murders
St. Joseph, Mo. June 20, 1912 -- John Bohland of Hamburg, Ia., was arrested as he alighted from a train at union depot, on complaint of [illegible] Reed, Harlan, Burge and [illegible] Ledgerwood, who had followed him from Hamburg and who suspect of the murder of eight persons at Villisca, Ia.

Burge received a letter said to have been signed by Bohland, in which the latter said he had a vision in which someone was told to kill all persons who did not "have the mark of the Lord" upon them. His strange act caused the three men to follow him to St. Joseph and ask for his arrest.

At the police station, Bohland said he had never been in Villisca, though the others say they have seen him there. Bohland is a farm hand, and at one time worked for Burge in Gravity, Ia. He denies knowledge of the crime.

Accuse Negro of Killing Eight.
Sioux City, Ia., July 5, 1912 -- Charged with the murder of the Joseph Moore family of six and two guests at Villisca, Ia., on June 10, Frank Roberts, a negro, is held here by the police. Roberts says he was at Clarinda, Ia., the night of the murder, having gone there to spend his vacation. He has lived in Sioux City since 1906, and for three years has worked as a porter in the photograph studio.

Slayer's Image in Eye - Photograph of Iowa Murderer is Obtained From Retina of a Girl Victim.
Council Bluffs, Ia., Aug. 21, 1912 -- C.M. Brown of Villisca, Ia., who is in this city, declares that the detectives at Villisca, working to solve the mystery in the recent murder of eight persons in Villisca have obtained a photograph of the murderer from the retina of the eye of one of the Stillinger sisters. The girl, circumstances at the time indicated, was the only one of the eight, all of whom were killed with a hatchet, who had awakened during the attack.

Held on Charge of Killing Six People - Iowa Farmer Believed To Be Much-Wanted Ax Man
Villisca, Iowa, Dec. 28, 1912 -- Lew Van Alstine, is held today on a warrant, charging him with the murder of the six members of the family of Joseph B. Moore and two guests in the Moore house last June. The family was killed with an ax. Van Alstine is a farmer. He is said to have had a quarrel with Moore about a year ago. It is known that detectives have been trailing him for several months. There was little excitement over the arrest as sentiment favors the prisoner. Mrs. Van Alstine says she is ready to swear that her husband was at home on the night of the murder and could not have been guilty of the crime.

Tripp Co South Dakota, Feb 6, 1914 -- Methodist Minister Arrested - Charged
by the Government with Mailing Obscene Literature -- Rev. Lynn Geo. J.
Kelly, a Methodist minister, was arrested Friday by a deputy C.S. Marshall,
upon a charge of sending obscene literature through the mail. Miss
Jessamine Hadgeon of Council Bluffs, the complaining witness was present at
the preliminary hearing before U.S. Commissioner Ziebach. The defendant was
held to the U.S. district court in the sum of $1000. In the absence of
bail he was remanded to the Federal prison at Sioux Falls to await trial.
It is said that the M.E. congregation at Winner had taken steps some time
ago to have Rev. Kelly removed because of adverse reports concerning his
previous mode of living. The minister had been assigned to Winner only
three months. It is charged that he wrote many obscene letters to young
ladies in Sioux City and Omaha, who had answered his advertisements for a
stenographer. (article contributed by Royce McDowell)

Sioux Falls Press, July 17, 1914 -- Was Kelly a Murderer?
Insane Preacher, formerly of Winner, May Have Been Villisca Ax Man
Efforts are being made by Iowa authorities to connect Rev. Lynn George J.
Kelley, who is under indictment in the federal court for South Dakota for
sending obscene matter through the mails and is now in the federal hospital
for insane at Washington, D.C., with the murder of a family at Villisca,
Iowa last year. Kelley at the time was preaching at a place near Villisca
and was staying at the home of the minister in that town on the night of the
murder. Kelly now maintains that he is perfectly sane and wants to be
released from detention in the federal hospital for the Insane, but his
attorneys declare that he is undoubtedly insane, and if he was involved in
the crime at Villisca, Ia., he remembers nothing of it now, and must have
been insane at the time. (article contributed by Royce McDowell)
Jury Probing Evidence - Case Against William Mansfield, Accused of Villisca Axe Murders, is Now Up.
Red Oak, Ia., July 15, 1916 -- the Montgomery grand jury got down to business here today, examining the evidence against William Mansfield, brought here from Kansas City, Kas., charged with the Villisca axe murders of four years ago. It is expected that there is enough evidence to keep the jury busy till Friday when Mansfield will have his preliminary hearing and be defended by his Kansas City attorney. R.H. Thorpe, a restaurant man from Shenandoah, was here today and identified Mansfield as the man he saw the morning after the murder boarding a train at Clarinda. This man said he had walked from Villisca. If this is substantiated it will break down Mansfield's alibi. Mrs. Vina Thompkins, of Marshalltown, is on her way here to testify that she heard three men in the woods plotting the murder of the Moore family a short time before the killings.

Released For Murder Committed In 1912
Red Oak, Iowa, July 21, 1916 -- William Mansfield was released by order of District Judge Woodruff at 3 o'clock this afternoon after a special Montgomery county grand jury refused to indict him for the Villisca axe murders four years ago. The sheriff placed him in an automobile and drove into the country, and it is supposed Mansfield will return to Kansas City, Kansas, at once.

Confession In Ax Murders Alleged.
Red Oak, March 19, 1917 -- The Rev. J.J. Burris, of Terrillton, Okla., has arrived in Red Oak with a subpoena from the Montgomery county grand jury, which, for the past ten days has been investigating the Villisca murder mystery. The minister, who is pastor of the Church of Christ in the Oklahoma city, declared that a man, whose name he was unable to recall, on his death bed confessed to him of having committed the murders which shocked the entire state, and which for four and a half years have baffled detectives and county and state officers. Mr. Burris is expected to tell his story to the grand jury. He said the confession was made to him in a hotel at Radersburg, Mont., July, 1913, about a year after the crime. "When I arrived at the bedside I saw at a glance he was at death's door. He was in torment and lived only a short time after I arrived. Death was said to have been due to delirium tremens." Mr. Burris said the man began to talk immediately upon his entering the room. "He said he had been guilty of many wrongs," continued the minister, "and wanted to make a clean breast before he died. He seemed to know that he had but a short while to live. His life was passing rapidly and it was with great difficulty that he spoke. He was physically unable to dwell much on details. The man sank back among the pillows. A great load seemed to have been lifted from his mind. In a few minutes he breathed his last." Mr. Burris said the body was buried in Radersburg. The clergyman said that the man told him that he was living in Villisca at the time of the murder and that formerly he had been engaged in the blacksmith business there. He is said to have been part owner of a blacksmith shop in Radersburg at the time of his death. "I should judge he was a man about 25 years old at the time ofhis death," said Mr. Burris. "He has relatives in Villisca, I was told that his sister in Radersburg years ago married a physician and left her home in Villisca to live in the west." Mr. Burris said he did not remember ever having seen the man before he was called to the bedside. He said the man climed to have known him when he lived in Iowa years ago. Asked if he had ever heard the story told by Mr. Burris, Albert Jones, who with his father, F.F. Jones, of Villisca, are being investigated in connection with the ax murder Saturday, declared that he had and that he did not attach much importance to it. Detective J.N. Wilkerson, who is seeking indictments against a half dozen residents of Montgomery county, declared that he had investigated the story and found that it would not stand up. Mr. Burris said he had been in communication with Attorney General Havner in regard to the story he said was told him by the dying man, and that the attorney general had the money with which to pay the expense of his trip to Red Oak. Mr. Havner is expected to arrive in Red Oak from Des Moines. F.F. Faville, who is conducting the grand jury investigation refused to comment on Burris' story.

Ex-Detective is Arrested in Villisca Case
Corning, June 30, 1917 -- J.N. Wilkerson, former Burns detective who has been active in the interests of the defense in the case of Rev. Lynn George J. Kelley charged with the Villisca ax murders is in jail here charged with conspiracy to commit a felony. Wilkerson was arrested at Red Oak and brought here by Sheriff G. Simpson of Adams county this morning.

His arrest followed the confession Thursday and Friday of William Walker, 28; E. Boiler, 25 and Harry Nave, 17 all of Atlantic who said Wilkerson furnished them with revolvers and automobiles to plunder the store of F.F. Jones at Red Oak last evening. Wilkerson has accused Jones, former senator, with complicity in the ax murders nad the raid on the store is alleged to have been for the purpose of securing personal letters and papers belonging to Jones. The confessions of the three men are said to have been given to County Attorney Ray Maxwell of Adams county, Sheriff Simpson and Attorney General Havner. They were released on $1000 bond.

It was also learned today that Judge Woodruff of Glenwood today issued a temporary injunction restricting him from making an advertised address at Red Oak and from intimidating witnesses, jurors and state attorneys in the trial of Kelley which trial is set for September 4. The petition makes sensational charges against Wilkerson. It is charged that after Kelley was indicted and before being apprehended, the detective visited Kelley at Alta Pass, Illinois, paid bills owed by Kelley and his wife, took them to Chicago and paid all the expenses of the trip. While at Alta Pass Wilkerson introduced himself to the railway agent of that town as F.F. Jones and shipped Kelley's goods to Kansas City, Mo., consigned to one Jackson. He is also charged with having visited Kelley at St. Louis prior to Kelley's indictment for the purpose of obstructing justice.

The petition also claims that while the grand jury was in session Wilkerson tried to intimidate witnesses and jurors and that he broke into the office of County Attorney Oscar Wenstrand and abstracted certain papers and files.

"Slay Utterly" Is Text; Preacher Becomes Slayer
Council Bluffs, Sept 1, 1917 -- "Slay Utterly" was the text which the Rev. Lynn G.J. Kelly, traveling preacher, followed when he murdered with an ax Joe Moore, his wife and four children and the two little Stillinger girls as they lay in their beds in Villisca, Iowa, on the night of June 9, 1912, according to a confession alleged to have been made before a state agent and several attorneys Friday morning. Information regarding the confession was given out today by State Agent Risdon and J.H. Hess, an attorney representing the prosecution. Kelly had heard a sermon on the text "Slay Utterly," and, according to this alleged confession, the two words had been running through his mind for days. The night of the murder a voice told him to go to the Moore house, where he picked up an ax in the back yard. He then went into the house and committed the murders, according to the confession.

Alleged Murderer Of Eight Goes On Trial
Red Oak, Ia., Sept 5, 1917 -- Selections of a jury to try Lyn George J. Kelly, charged with the "axe murder" of eight persons in Villisca, in 1912, was expected to be well under way before adjournment today. A special venire of 100 has been ordered to report. Attorney General Havener refused to coment today on his indictment by the county grand jury late yesterday for "oppression in office," as a result of his conduct of the state's case. He will play as his trump card the confession he says Kelly signed, admitting the murder of Joe Moore, his wife, their four children and Lena and Ina Stillinger, at the command of a "shadow - the voice of God." The defense will repudiate the alleged confession.

Jones' To Be Drawn in Trial
Red Oak, Sept 6, 1917 -- That the defense in the trial of Rev. Lyn George J. Kelley charged with murdering eight persons at Villisca with an ax in 1912 would try to bring the name of F.F. Jones, former state senator into the trial was indicated this afternoon by the questions put to prospective jurors.

Pearl Kluck, a farmer, drawn for jury service was asked if he had an opinion as to the "guilt or innocence of Senator JOnes" in connection with the murders. He replied that he had but was not asked to express it.

J.N. Wilkerson, the detective working for the defense has frequently charged Jones with "having criminal knowledge" of the murders.

The state is not likely to ask for the death penalty if Kelley is convicted. This was indicated thru the failure to ask prospective jurors their opinion as to capital punishment. Of the seven men examined this morning only one was accepted, bringing the total of tentative jurors to ten.

Murder Ax Introduced in Villisca Murder Case
Red Oak, Iowa, Sept. 13, 1917 -- Five witnesses, testifying today in the trial of the Rev. Lyn George J. Kelly, charged with the Villisca ax murders, told of the manner and condition in which the bodies of the victims were found. Dr. J. Clark Cooper, Dr. W.A. Lomas, Dr. A.L. Linquist, former coroner, Dr. F.S. Williams and Marshal J.H. Horton of Villisca, the first persons summoned to the residence of J.B. Moore after the murders were committed, were the witnesses.

During the examination of former Coroner Linquist, now commander of an Omaha ambulance company, the murder ax was introduced. The blade, blunt side and part of the handle show faded splotches of blood. Dr. Linquist shaid there were no finger marks on the ax handle, which, he said, was streaked with blood. He said the body of the elder Stillinger girl apparently was the only victim moved after being slain.

Opening statements of counsel in the trial of the Rev. Lyn George J. Kelly, charged with the murder in connection with the ax slayings at Villisca, Iowa, in 1912, occupied only an hour today and the way was cleared for the introduction of testimony. Assertions by the state that it would be positively proven that Kelly killed the ax victims and has confessed his guilt, wree met by counter charges from the defense that the confession was by "inquisitional" methods for the purpose of shielding another.

"We will prove by reputable witnesses," H.M. Havner, attorney general of Iowa, opening for the state, said, "that on the morning following the murder, Kelly, while on a train between Macedonia and Hastings, Iowa, told of the fact that eight persons had been slain at Villisca. This was before seven o'clock in the morning and all evidence will show beyond question that the murder was not discovered in Villisca at that time and was not known until between 8:30 and 9 o'clock.

Mr. Havner also said the state would prove the confession Kelly is said to have made a few days before the trial opened, that it was made on the defendant's own volition, entirely without coercion. In opening for the defense Attorney W.E. Mitchell asserted that the alleged confession was worthless except as showing that the state was trying to shield someone. "Kelly was more dead than alive; more insane than sane," after making the purported confession, Mr. Mitchell said.

The courtroom was crowded during these recitals, a sprinkling of women being included. Kelly, who weighs 115 pounds and stands but one inch over five feet, watched proceedings closely and without display of emotion.

Boasted of Eight Murders
(By United Press) Red Oak, Ia., Sept 17, 1917 -- The confession of Lyn George J. Kelly is alleged to have been made to the state agents, that he killed eight persons with an ax at Villisca in 1912, was not the first made by the itinerant unordained minister. This was brought out today when the Kelly trial was resumed here. W.C McQueen, former deputy at Sioux Falls, S.D., who arrested Kelly in 1914 on some trivial charge, testified that Kelly told him he committed the murders at Villisca. According to witnesses Kelly told other persons who came to the cell to see him that he killed the Moore family and the two Stillinger girls and asked them "how did the Iowans find out I killed them?" A man who shared a cell with Kelly at the Sioux Falls prison testified in the same line. According to this prisoner, he said he killed the eight persons and added that none would suspect him because he was a minister.

Claim Kelley Was Insane
Red Oak, Sept. 19, 1917 -- That Lynn George J. Kelley was of unsound mind was the point of the defense was trying to impress on the jury in the Kelley murder trial here today. Witnesses called to the stand told of wild ramblings by the itinerant, unordained minister who is accused of crushing out eight lives with an axe at Villisca in 1912.

The defense also charges that the alleged confession presented by the state, if it had been made at all, came after the minister's mind had been weakened through grilling by the state's agents.

The state charges that Kelley in his confession admitted he slayed Joe Moore, his wife, four Moore children and Ina and Lena Stillinger because a voice from God commanded him to "slay utterly."

Witnesses said Kelley imagined he was a detective when taken through the Moore home about two weeks after the crime was committed. Persons close to the trial said today that the fate of Kelley would be in the jury's hands before the end of next week. This prediction came through the abrupt ending of the state's testimony yesterday afternoon and it was thought that the defense's witnesses probably would be all examined before next Wednesday.

Defense Has Closed Case
Red Oak, Sept 22, 1917 - The defense in the Lynn George J. Kelley murder trial closed its case shortly before noon and adjournment was taken until Monday when the state will begin its testimony in rebuttal. This arrangement indicates that the jurors will have the fate of the itinerant, unordained minister charged with the Villisca ax murders in their hands by thursday or Friday.

Mrs. Kelley testified that her husband's mind had been weakened through overwork. She told of Kelley's arrest in Nebraska on arson charges and testified that on the night he confessed he had set the fires he was at home with her. This she said was her first knowlege that his mind was weakened. Other defense witnesses told of the various indications that the minister was weak-minded.

October 1, 1917, Marshalltown Times-Republican -- About the only thing so far settled at Red Oak is that a murder was committed at Villisca.

Noel Killed In Villisca Feud?
Omaha, Neb., Nov. 3, 1917 -- Detective L.W. Longnecker is inclined to believe that J.W. Noel, Villisca photographer, who was found dead at Albia, Ia. Thursday with a bullet hole in his forehead, was murdered. He had no definite theory to offer, but bases his opinion on the tense feeling in Montgomery county. "My only surprise is that there has not been a killing before this. I would not be surprised to hear of other shootings before this affair is cleared up" he said. "Noel," he continued, "testified at the Jones-Wilkerson slander suit a year ago that he overheard a conversation in Jones' machine shop in Villisca. There was supposed to have been a crack in the boards through which he claimed to have heard a conversation between Senator F.F. Jones and his son, Albert. Noel claimed the information he overheard indicated that Jones and his son were afraid of Ed Landers. At the recent Kelly trial, you will recall, Landers testified that on the evening of the murder he observed Albert Jones enter the Moore home at about [illegible] o'clock. His testimony was impeached by the prosecution. Noel and Landers were boon companions." Noel was star witness in the Jones slander suit against Detective J.N. Wilkerson, and one of the strongest supporters of Wilkerson in his fight in Montgomery county, Iowa, to bring about the acquittal of Rev. Lyn G.J. Kelly for the Villisca ax murders.

Kelley May be Retried for the Other Seven Deaths
Des Moines, Nov. 26, 1917 -- Lynn George J. Kelley acquitted Saturday night of the murder of Lena Stillinger, one of the eight Villisca ax murder victims, can be indicted and retried for the other seven deaths, Attorney General Havner announced today when he returned from Red Oak. He said that each of the deaths in the Villisca murders constitute a separate crime for which Kelley can be indicted. He did not say, however, whether he would push the case further.

Detective Falls in Bad
Omaha, June 18, 1918 -- J.N. Wilkerson, private detective, who gained considerable prominence thru his connection with the Red Oak trial of Rev. Lyn G.J. Kelly during the Villisca ax murder case, has been arrested at Ottumwa, Ia., with Mrs. J.W. Noel, widow of a Villisca photographer. It is charged that the detective registered as L.R. Johnson of Centerville and that he registered his companion as Mrs. N. Norton and baby of Albia, Ia. Wilkerson, admitting the false registrations, obtained bail for himself and Mrs. Noel. He asserted that he and the woman were on business in connection with insurance claims in connection with the death of J.W. Noel at Albia. Wilderson and Mrs. Noel will be tried in justice court at Ottumwa next Wednesday. Noel, Villisca photographer, who was found dead last fall in the railroad yards at Albia, was one of the principal Wilkerson-Kelly supporters at Red Oak. His death was surrounded by mystery, but the indications were that he shot himself. The detective who is in trouble at Ottumwa was nominated a few weeks ago for county attorney of Montgomery county, of which Red Oak is the county seat. His name was written on the ballots.

Detroit Prisoner Says He Slew Minister, Wife, and Four Children in 1912
Detroit, March 28, 1931 -- George Meyers, 48, prisoner in county jail here awaiting sentence for burglary, has confessed to the axe murder of six persons - a man, his wife and their four children - in Villisca, Iowa, 18 years ago, it was learned here tonight. Meyers' alleged confession came after five hours of grilling by detectives Max Richman and Earl Anderson who had received an anonymous tip by letter to check up on the prisoner. Finger prints of Meyers, sent to the sheriff of Montgomery co., Iowa, are said to have checked with fingerprints found at the scene of the crime. The victims were Rev. and Mrs. JOseph Moore and their four children. Meyers said he did not know the minister nor the business man who promised to pay him $5,000 to kill the family. The offer, he said, came thru an underworld acquaintance whom he met in Kansas City. The acquaintance took him to Villisca, Iowa, about 65 miles southeast of Omaha, Neb., where they met the man who wanted the job done. "I never knew what the man's name was" the alleged confession reads. "He pointed out the house of this family he wanted wiped out. I demanded part of my money from him before I did the job. He gave me $2,000 and said he would give me the rest afterwards. I got an axe and entered the house about midnight. I killed them all, th eman his wife and their four children. They were all asleep. A little while after, I again met this man who had hired me and told him the job was done. I wanted the rest of my money. He said I'd have to wait." When the business man refused to pay him the rest of the money until he was sure the family had been killed, Meyers said he fled the town before daybreak and never returned.

Red Oak, Iowa, March 26, 1931 -- Authorities tonight were checking the confession of George Meyers in Detroit, Mich, to the axe murder eighteen years ago of Joseph Moore, his wife, four children and two girls at Villisca twenty miles southeast of here. The brutal slaying of the eight victims on the night of June 9, 1912, aroused the country and resulted in the arrest of many suspects. At the time it was believed the same murderer killed an entire family in Colorado Springs only a few months before, another family in Kansas and a third in [line missing & text appears to be mixed up a bit], the most prominent citizen of eastern Iowa. The Villisca victims were Moore, 42, the town, his wife: Herman 11, Catherine, 9, Floyd, 7, and Paul, 6, their children, and Edith Stillings, 12, and her sister, Blanche, 9, who were visiting at the Moore home.

Detroit, March 28, 1931 -- This afternoon the detectives said Meyers admitted killing the Moore family but denied killing the two Stillinger girls.

Detroit, March 30, 1931 -- Leroy Robinson, alias George Meyers, who Saturday confessed the slaying of six persons in Iowa in 1912, and who yesterday was said to have headed a plot of 10 prisoners to break out of the county jail, was sentenced to from 14 1/2 to 15 years in the Michigan state prison at Jackson today. Robinson's confession that he killed six persons at Villisca, Ia., does not tally with the reocrd of the crime, officers said. Eight persons were killed, Robinson's confession accounted for only six.


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