Rating: 3 Stars
This book deeply saddens me for two reasons:
1. Whatever the motive, six innocent children lost their lives through no fault of their own and to this day their horrific murders have not been solved.
2. The book is in terrible need of a good round or two of thorough editing, given the numerous punctuation errors alone in addition to missing words. The victims of this awful crime deserve better.
The story itself is compelling and is one of those that we can not look away from, given the sensationalism of it all and the fact that so many of the victims were children. We will, in all likelihood, never know who the perpetrator(s) was/(were). I wish that were not the case. They deserve justice and just about everyone involved in investigating the crime was kind of worthless at various times throughout. I understand, the technology needed to solve the crime did not exist yet and most wouldn't for decades. But come on, common sense here: why were so many damn people allowed to traipse through the house while the victims still lay in their beds? Why were so many lookie-lous allowed to HANDLE THE MURDER WEAPON? I mean seriously, FFS, this never stood a chance of being solved.
I purchased this book after embarking on an adventure to Villisca with a friend. We visited the home and spent quite a while there, as well as the museum downtown owned by the Linns, and part of the tour took us out to the cemetery where the Moore family and Stillinger girls were buried.
I can state 100%, unequivocally, without a doubt, the home is haunted. This is not surprising, given the horrific trauma the home witnessed. As my friend and I explored the home with maybe a handful of other tourists, I snapped several pictures. I had no issues whatsoever with my camera on the first floor of the home where the kitchen, pantry, parlor, and bedroom were located. The first floor bedroom is where the Stillinger girls died.
As we moved up the stairs, I began to feel lightheaded and headachey. I began to feel this intense pressure as I stood on the landing at the top of the stairs where Josiah and Sarah Moore's bed had been, where they too died. There was a narrow passage that could barely be called a hallway, where to the left a door opened into the attic. Straight ahead was the bedroom where the Moore children had slept. I felt drawn to the attic and attempted multiple times to take photos of the space. My camera refused to cooperate. This problem did not occur at any other time during the entire tour. In the end, with dozens of pictures of every other room in the house, both upstairs and downstairs, I managed to finally get two or three of the attic. After heading back downstairs, I had to get out of the house. It was not until I stepped out into the bright October sunshine that the headache and lightheaded-ness went away. The pressure was different, it was more of an overwhelming sadness. I will not go back to the home ever again.
When one looks at the information in this book and the main suspects, it is easy to see that no a single one of the suspects fits perfectly. Kelly was quite insane I'm sure, but enough to murder 8 people on what he thought was a command from God? And Jones, if he was so furious about Moore's competing business or the rumored affair Joe was having with Jones' daughter-in-law, why have the children and Moore's wife killed also? Or was that something the hired killers decided on their own when they'd gone to kill Joe but someone else had woken and would have been able to identify them? And who on earth would ever think it be possible to sneak into a house full of 8 people and murder only one? None of it makes sense, and I don't think it ever will.
Please allow for one more side-note about the book. I purchased it several years ago on the aforementioned visit a friend and I made to Villisca. A couple years after that I began dating a guy who was also interested in paranormal events and I told him about my trip to the house. I had not begun the book at that point, and I am not sure why. Something about the cover really spooked me. I let him borrow it and for weeks it sat on his coffee table, face down. The cover kind of spooked him too. He'd begun reading it and one night as we were going to sleep, the book was sitting on his nightstand. In the middle of the night I woke up to use the rest room and noticed he was sleeping, on his back, with something clutched tightly to his chest. Using the light from my phone, I shrieked in my half-asleep state that woke both of us quickly. He looked down and saw the Villisca book on his chest and without thinking, threw it across the room, startled. He had no memory of waking at any point, nor had no idea why he would have been holding the book so tightly. He'd gone to sleep at the same time I had, turning out the light with no reading beforehand. In the morning he told me I could take the book home with me, he had no intention of ever reading it after the events during the middle of the night. I didn't blame him one bit. I took the book home, keeping it face-down always, but I could not get rid of it. I shoved it in a box and did not read it for years, until today. The cover spooks me still and I don't think that feeling will ever go away.
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