June 10th marks the 104th anniversary of Iowa's worst mass murder, the 1912 Villisca axe murders. The award-winning and critically-acclaimed true crime documentary Villisca: Living with a Mystery, produced by Emmy-nominated filmmakers Kelly Rundle and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films, will air on WQPT-Quad Cities PBS on Sunday, June 5th at 8:30 p.m. The documentary features interviews with Villisca case expert Dr. Edgar Epperly and the late Robert K. Ressler, a former FBI agent, forensic profiler and the author of “Whoever Fights Monsters”.
Sometime during the night of Sunday, June 9, 1912, a person or persons unknown entered a modest house in Villisca, Iowa and bludgeoned to death Josiah B. Moore, his wife Sara, and their children Herman, Katherine, Boyd, and Paul and overnight guests Lena and Ina Stillinger. The crime, known thereafter as the “Villisca axe murders”, is the most notorious unsolved mystery in Iowa history. The tragedy spawned nearly ten years of grand jury investigations and three sensational, made and broke political careers and led to the establishment of the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation. The murders also split residents of the small community of Villisca, Iowa over the guilt or innocence of a local suspect, Iowa State Senator Frank Fernando Jones.
Monmouth, Illinois was the site of a similar murder in 1911. The Villisca crime may have been connected to the Monmouth crime and similar murders in several Midwestern locations.
Dr. Edgar Epperly in Villisca: Living with a Mystery.
Villisca: Living with a Mystery was the Rundles’ first documentary film and it qualified for the 2005 Academy Award competition in the Documentary Feature category. The film was partially funded by a grant from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Rundles' Fourth Wall Films is an independent film and video production company. They produced the regional Emmy® nominated documentaries Letters Home to Hero Street (with WQPT-PBS) and Country School: One Room – One Nation; and the award-winning films Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg (with co-producer Garry McGee), River to River: Iowa's Forgotten Highway 6, and Lost Nation: The Ioway 1, 2 & 3. For more information, visit FourthWallFilms.com.