In 1912, before serial killers and mass murders made their debut, two adults including six children were found bludgeoned to death in their beds. The victims suffered from blows to the head, their wounds inflicted by an axe. Residents of small town Villisca, Iowa watched as their town filled with detectives and reporters. They began reinforcing locks, and openly carrying weapons when the several suspects were let go and the crime went unsolved.

The Moore family consisted of two parents, Josiah (43), Sarah (39), and four of their children : Herman Montgomery (11), Mary Katherine (10), Arthur Boyd (7), and Paul Vernon (5). The family was well-known and well-liked in small town Villisca. On June 10th, 1912, 10-year-old Mary invited Ina Mae (8) and Lena Gertrude Stillinger (12) to spend the night at the Moore residence. The Moore family was accompanied by the young girls at their Presbyterian Church where they participated in the Children's Day Program. The program ended at 9:30 P.M, the Moore's and the Stillinger sisters walked to the Moore's house, arriving around 9:45 and 10 P.M.

Investigators presumed the time of death after midnight, eight victims were brutally murdered, their skulls crushed by an axe as they slept. Neighbor Mary Peckham, realized earlier the next morning that it was quite odd that the children hadn't been up to start on their chores. She called Josiah's brother Ross who arrived at 8:00 a.m., to look around the house. He discovered two figures covered with a sheet in the backroom, and that there had been blood splattered on the bedstead. Ross contacted Marshal Henry Horton, who arrived around 8:30 a.m., and went through the house, and found that "somebody had been murdered in every bed."

The murder weapon was partially cleaned and leaning against a wall in the downstairs bedroom, where the Stillinger girls were found dead. Here is where it got interesting, the murderer or murderers left a four-pound piece of slab bacon against the wall, next to the axe. The murderer also covered the mirrors and glass entry doors with clothing. On the kitchen table there was a plate of uneaten food and a bowl of bloody water.

All victims were found in their beds, their heads were covered with bedsheets, all of their skulls were beaten 20 to 30 times with the blunt side of the axe. The ceiling in the parent's and children's bedroom upstairs showed gouge marks, suspected to be made by the upswing of an axe. One of the Stillinger sister's, Lena had a bloodstain on her knee and an alleged defense wound on her arm.

Word got out about the murder and the Moore home was filled with residents who tampered with the evidence. If these murders had been committed today forensics without a doubt would have convicted someone, however, due to tampered evidence and the lack of technology the murderer or murderers walked free. Residents of Villisca, Iowa lived in fear, for what if it happened again?