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Books and videos pertaining to the 1912 Villisca, Iowa Axe Murders


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In the picturesque rolling hills of Southwest Iowa is a small town of 1300 called Villisca. It's located on the east side of Montgomery County near the intersections of highways 71 and 34. The town square, tree-lined 5th Avenue boulevard, Victorian homes, shops, restaurants, museum, fresh air, and friendly people, make it just right for a day trip.

Locals prefer their town to be known as the "bacon and egg" center of Southwest Iowa because of an egg-laying facility and numerous livestock farms near town. However, Villisca is best known throughout the country as the site of Iowa's worst mass homicide: the 1912 axe murders. The night-time slayings of a family of six and two visiting children has never been solved and the mystery lingers there today.

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This catalog has been created to support the production and distribution of Villisca: Living With a Mystery, a documentary feature film about the 1912 axe murders and the effect these crimes have had on the small rural community throughout the years.  We think you will find the items herein intriguing, useful, and thought-provoking. We are grateful for your interest and support and we look forward to providing you with a bit of Iowa history and mystery.  View a "teaser" for the documentary here.

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Dr. Edgar Epperly's over 50 years of meticulous research qualifies him as the foremost authority on the 1912 Villisca, Iowa Axe Murders.  Epperly is a retired Professor of Education from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.  He is also part of the Humanities Iowa Speakers Bureau.

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1912 Coroner's Inquest

Fourth Wall Press (2003) - Introduction by Dr. Edgar Epperly

This facsimile of the original document is dated June 11, 1912, just one day after the axe murders of eight were discovered in a small white house on East Second Street. The text includes vivid descriptions of the crime scene and insight into early theories about the tragedy. As Dr. Epperly says in his introduction, the Coroner's Inquest is, "the starting point for anyone who would truly understand the murders." Illustrated with historical photographs.

8 1/2 x 11" -100 pages - $24.99 + $2.00 s&h* TOTAL $26.99

*Shipping and Handling--All items shipped via USPS 4th Class Media Rate unless otherwise noted.

Inquest Book


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Detective James Wilkerson's 'Dope' Sheet:

the Case Against Senator Frank Jones

Fourth Wall Press (2003) - Introduction by Dr. Edgar Epperly

As Dr. Epperly says in his introduction, "the 'Dope' Sheet is the most interesting document associated with the 1912 Villisca axe murders." This report formed the basis for the 1917 Grand Jury and it vividly illustrates why so many in Villisca thought Jones had hired someone to murder the Moores. This is a facsimile of the original typed manuscript, but we have retyped some hard-to-read pages for your convenience. Wilkerson's narrative of fact and fiction is a must-read for the curious and the studious. Illustrated with historical photographs.

8 1/2 x 11" -173 pages - $27.99 + $2.00 s&h TOTAL $29.99

Wilkerson Book


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1917 Grand Jury Signed Statements

Fourth Wall Press (2003) - Introduction by Dr. Edgar Epperly

This facsimile of the original manuscript investigates charges against Senator Jones and Reverend George Kelly. It is a "digest" of the 1917 Grand Jury. These statements were made and signed by key witnesses prior to questioning. Their revealing testimony sheds new light on the enduring axe murder mystery. Illustrated with historical photographs.



8 1/2 x 11" - 200 pages - $33.99 + $3.00 s&h TOTAL $36.99

Statements Book


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of Events in the Life of F.F. Jones

Fourth Wall Press (1997) - Introduction by Dr. Edgar Epperly

Senator Jones' autobiography augmented with 14 newly discovered Jones family photographs (in addition to the two from the original edition). He answers charges regarding his alleged involvement in the axe murders and paints a fascinating portrait of a self-made man in turn-of-the-century America. A facsimile of the original book. Illustrated with historical photographs culled from the Jones family's personal collection.


New edition coming soon!

5 1/2 x 8 1/2"- 88 pages

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"Exploring Villisca's Axe Murder House" &

"Slay and Slay Utterly: Reverend Kelly's Confession"

Now just $14.99!

Together on one DVD (VHS has been discontinued)

Dr. Ed Epperly has researched the Villisca axe murders since 1955. His visit to the Moore house after 15 years was caught on camera. Moving from room to room, Epperly describes the crime scene and early investigation on the morning of June 10, 1912. A severe summer thunderstorm rolls in as the detailed tour progresses.

In 1917, the Reverend Lyn George Jacklin Kelly confessed to the Villisca axe murders. Was he guilty or just obsessed with the case? Follow Dr. Epperly on a midnight walk from the manse where the little minister stayed to the Moore house as he recounts the quirky clergyman's confession.

This video also includes a Lamplight Q&A with Dr. Epperly in the Moore House and the Villisca: Living with a Mystery documentary "teaser."

DVD bonus features include an extended version of the Q&A, behind-the-scenes footage, and internet resources.

DVD - 80 min. $14.99 + $2.00 1st Class s&h TOTAL $16.99

House DVD


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Villisca, Iowa's 1912 Axe Murders

Now just $14.99!

DVD video

On Monday morning June 10, 1912 it was humid and cloudy in Villisca, Iowa. Marshal Hank Horton was standing in front of City Hall when someone told him that something was wrong at Joe and Sara Moore's home.

Hank hurried over to find the small white house at 508 East 2nd Street strangely silent and its window shades all drawn tight to the sills. As he opened the door, he paused for a moment to light a match. When his eyes adjusted to the flickering glow, he saw the reason for the terrible stillness. Later, as he emerged pale and shaken, he said, "My God, there's someone murdered in every bed."

In the spirit of a turn-of-the-century Chautauqua-style performance, Dr. Edgar Epperly presented the story of the infamous axe murders as Marshal Horton before a capacity crowd in Villisca's Rialto Theater. "Horton" gives an account of his investigation of the crime scene, the alleged involvement of a State Senator, and the indictment of a traveling minister. Over 90 years later, the true story of Villisca's axe murder mystery still captivates and informs.

This newly "remastered" edition features the inclusion of over 35 historical photographs.

The DVD includes the Villisca: Living with a Mystery documentary "teaser."

DVD bonus material includes: "Motive & Meaning" interview with Dr. Epperly and internet resources.

DVD - 80 min. $14.99 + $2.00 1st Class s&h TOTAL $16.99

Rialto DVD


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The Villisca Review June 1912 Reprint

Published by the Villisca Review newspaper - (2003 Edition)

This remarkable reprint features the earliest and most accurate news reporting related the axe murders. Details include names and ages of victims, crime scene details, early arrests, the Coroner's Inquest, the funeral, and suspect William "Blackie" Mansfield. The paper includes pages from the June 13, 20, 27, 1912 and June 14, 1916 issues.

Photographs include the victims, murder house, and investigators.

Authentically reproduced on newsprint

16" x 22 3/4" - 16 pages


Villisca: the True Account of the Unsolved Mass Murder that Stunned the Nation

By Roy Marshall -- Aventine Press (2003)

The 1912 Villisca ax murders rank as one of the worst unsolved crimes in Midwestern history. The killings, however, were only the first event in a snarl of contradictory investigations, charges and counter-charges, rumors, allegations, other violent deaths, civil trials and criminal proceedings. This true account covers the tumultuous events from the morning the murders were discovered until Christmas of 1918, the day of the final confrontation between former state senator F. F. Jones and J. N. Wilkerson, the charismatic private detective who polarized the community by publicly and repeatedly accusing the Senator of the crime.  Illustrated with historical photographs.


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Morning Ran Red (used copies)

By, Stephen Bowman -- Guild Press (1986)

We have several used copies of the paperback version of Stephen Bowman's novel based on the 1912 Villisca, Iowa axe murders.  They are nice reading copies and in relatively good condition, but may not be suitable as a collector's item.

304 pages -  $11.99 + $1.00 1st Class s&h TOTAL $12.99

New copies of Morning Ran Red are also available in a signed soft cover edition directly from Mr. Bowman. Click below to visit his website.


Bowman Book


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