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Updated: 04.23.2002


Who planned this June 8-10, 2002 weekend of activities?

The 90th Anniversary Commemorative Weekend has been organized by us (Fourth Wall Films) to complement two private screenings of the final-cut of our documentary feature film Villisca: Living With a Mystery.  We hope that the scheduled activities will provide a number of meaningful and interesting historical events for our screening guests and the public to enjoy.

What is Villisca: Living With a Mystery and why can't I see it in June?

Our film is a work of non-fiction.  In 1993 we (Fourth Wall Films) began research for our documentary feature film project called Villisca.   We shot about half the film over a two-month period in 1994 and the rest between 1995 and 2001.  We interviewed over 50 people, some with first-hand accounts of the events of 1912-1917.  In addition to our own 9 years of investigation, we have relied on Dr. Edgar Epperly and Dr. Bruce Stillians for their 80+ combined years of research and interpretation.  We have collected an extensive archive of copies of thousands of pages of historical materials and hundreds of period photographs.  In addition, we have consulted forensic experts to apply today's crime-solving techniques to the decades-old case.  All these resources have been drawn together in our documentary and book project called Villisca and subtitled Living With a Mystery.

The private invitation-only screenings of the final-cut of Villisca: Living With a Mystery are for people who have participated in some way in the making of the film over the last 8 years.  Public screenings won't take place until the final laboratory work has been completed.  The public is invited to our Nebraska Humanities event on Monday, June 10, 2002, where a portion of the final-cut will be screened and followed by a panel discussion with historians. DETAILS

Wait a minute! I thought you were making a drama?

It's easy to see why you would be confused.  Since late 2000 we have received occasional e.mails and comments from people who think we might be making a dramatic fictional film that also contains the word "Villisca" in its title.  The befuddlement stems from two Des Moines filmmakers' plans to make a FICTIONAL film based on recent claims that the Moore House (the site of the 1912 axe murders) is now haunted.

We are not associated with the Des Moines-based fictional film project in any way.

Why didn't the city of Villisca, Iowa plan something?

The 1912 murders were an unprecedented tragedy and an important historical event in Southwest Iowa.  Even after 90 years, Villisca citizens disagree about how to acknowledge this chapter of their town's history.  To our knowledge, the city of Villisca had no official plans to commemorate the murders on this 90th anniversary, but many people in Villisca have been supporting and assisting us in our efforts to do so.

Other activities related to Axe Murder House tours and the "History of the House" program/dinner at The Bank have been planned by the Olson-Linn Musuem.

I think it's terrible that you are exploiting this tragedy to make money.  How do you live with yourselves?

All participants on our schedule (except for the pianist on Saturday night) are coming to Villisca at their own expense.  Once you know that we are paying the piano player, it should be clear that no one is paying us to appear 2000 miles from our home either.  : )

We will be collecting $1 per person donations for our public events and these funds will benefit the Villisca Public Library Exterior Restoration Fund.

The primary purpose of the weekend in June is to commemorate the tragic deaths of eight people, recall and recite the history surrounding the investigation, trials, and community split, and to say "thank you" to everyone who has supported our non-fiction film project over the years.  If, in the bargain, vistors come away with a positive impression of Villisca and this presentation of one important chapter of their history, then we will count ourselves doubly blessed.

Where can I hang my hat in Villisca?

Well, you can't stay any where in Villisca unless you have friends or family there.  Log on to traveliowa.com and look for a motel room in Red Oak or Clarinda.  Corning is also a possibility.   The Red Coach Inn in Red Oak is one of our sponsors, so be sure to give them LOTS of business.

What about grub and gas?

D&D Bar and Grill, Breadeuax Pisa (Pizza), Villisca Foods, and Casey's are available in Villisca.  Many other restaurants (from fast food to sit-down) are available in nearby Stanton, Red Oak, Clarinda, and Corning.  The Advent Christian church will be selling sack lunches on Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

Suppose I get bored with your "historical" events, are there other things to see and do?

Check out our list of local points of interest or...just leave quietly and go home early.  : )


We sincerely hope this missive has cleared up any confusion, bewilderment, befuddlement, or mystification.  To paraphrase my father, "it's all as clear as mud to us."

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