Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Part 2 -- Scariest Vacation Ever

In honor of Halloween, another posting of one of the scariest vacations ever:

My friend Eric and I go on ghost hunting trips as often as we can and I thought I'd share the story of one of the freakiest trips we went on. This is the description I wrote of our trip to the Villisca Axe Murder House back in 2006.
First some not so funny, incredibly gruesome background (for those who want more detailed background, check out this website: ).  The Villisca Axe Murder House is so-named because in 1912, 8 people (2 adults, 6 kids) were bludgeoned to death inside the place with, obviously, an axe.  The forensic evidence and court documents from the time indicate that the killer or killers probably hid in the house before the family got back from a church program and waited until everyone was asleep to come out and bludgeon (loving the word bludgeon, it’s just so creepy!) them.  The newspapers said that everyone was killed in their sleep but modern forensic detectives have examined the gouge marks in the ceiling (from the back swing of the axe) and the blood spatter and determined that some of the people did try to run.  There were a few different suspects but the killer or killers was never found.  The house itself has been featured on the show “Scariest Places on Earth” and is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in America.

Which pretty much makes it second only to Roswell, NM’s National UFO Convention as a prime vacation destination for Eric and I.

In any case, Eric’s schedule has been hectic this summer so our trip was pretty much spur of the moment…which gave us a few minutes of concern because it is harder to book a reservation in an axe murder house than one might think.  Luckily, weeknights are a little easier than others so we threw all our junk in the car and took off…

Sadly, we were only 5 minutes into the trip before we realized that neither one of us had remembered to bring a map.  But since we had our handy-dandy Yahoo directions, we decided to press on.

 It is interesting to note that Yahoo Directions include the following warning on the bottom of their directions:  When using any directions, it’s a good idea to do a reality check and make sure the road still exists and/or isn’t under construction.  This is only to be used as an aid in planning.

Reality check?  REALITY CHECK?  Reality is for people who are too scared to drink…seriously, who thinks we CHECKED the route?

Of course we didn’t check!  Checking would imply a lack of confidence in Yahoo.  Checking would hint that we did not trust our own innate navigational abilities.  Checking would mean we had actually READ THE STUPID WARNING before we were sitting in the middle of some untamed wilderness with limited cell phone service (think Deliverance).

You know what else we realized at that moment?  Cell service didn’t much matter as we had also neglected to bring the phone number of the Axe Murder House owner…a fact that some of you were noticeably unsympathetic about when we finally did manage to call and/or text message you and explain our plight.

Luckily, a few calls later, we managed to get back on track and eventually found our way to the Axe Murder Museum…at which point I stopped imitating the dueling banjos from Deliverance and started making Texas Chainsaw Massacre comments. 

First, let me describe Darwin (the owner).  He’s an older gentleman who just screams “Good old boy!”  He drove up to the museum in his black pick up truck, got out and straightened his blue and white striped bib overalls, and smiled…which is when I noticed that all his bottom teeth were missing and had been replaced by silver caps. (I really, really wanted to start singing Nelly’s Grillz, …you know, “smile for me daddy, lemme see your grill!” but A. I didn’t think he’d recognize it and B. It’s never a good idea to piss off a man who is the proud owner of an axe murder house.)

So silent, we went into the museum.  Which had all this cool stuff but was organized even worse than the junk box under my bed…I personally think Darwin has simply gone to every garage sale in Villisca, IA for the last fifty years and bought the museum as a storage room.  Very weird.

But not as weird as the tour he took us on next.  He told us he’d show us the church the family had been attending right before the murders, the houses of a few suspects, etc.  Then he got in his pickup, Eric and I got in my car and we followed him around town.  Followed him as he drove in circles without slowing down and pointed out the window.  Eric and I had no idea what the heck we were supposed to be looking at, though, to be completely fair, that might have been because we were both laughing so hard I almost ran off the road.

After this enlightening bit of travel, we stopped by the cemetery to see the graves (we were allowed to get out of the car for that one), then finally made it to the house…which has no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and was approximately as hot as the surface of the sun.  A situation which was not noticeably helped when Darwin lit about a million kerosene lamps and lanterns for us…

At this point, Darwin took us upstairs and  I got so sick to my stomach, I could barely hear what he was saying.

"I'm sorry," I said.  "I really feel like I'm going to throw up."

"Yah," he said.  "That happens all the time up here.  You're leaning against the closet that experts think the murderer was hiding in."

Creepy...and I got that same sick feeling every time we were upstairs.

And that's when Darwin left us alone in the house to conduct our intensive paranormal research.

First, we set up our “base of operations” in the living room.  This was right across from the bedroom where 2 neighbor girls who were spending the night were killed and right next to the screen door, but was the lesser of 2 evils as the only other option was upstairs where 6 people were killed in close quarters.  We piled sleeping bags on the floor (hardwood floor, by the way, NOT COMFORTABLE!), then got out our voice activated tape-recorder and our notebooks (one of us also got out our grandmother’s rosary and bottle of holy water to prepare for a possible exorcism of evil spirits but I will leave it to you to figure out which one that was).  Suitably armed, we began to explore.
Scoffers and non-believers may want to skip this next part but I assure you, Eric and I were plenty freaked out by the events of the night.  In any case, our experiences in the house were as follows:

·                    Took our voice-activated tape recorder upstairs and put it in the closet that the killer(s) supposedly hid in.  Got horrible sick feeling in my stomach every time we approached the closet.

·                    Knocked over lantern, couldn’t get it to relight.  Eric accused me of breaking some important oxygen-releasing device but I choose to believe it was evil spirits.

·                    Tried to call out on cell phone (read that cell phones have trouble there, even when full signal is available) while Eric played the piano (read that the piano draws the ghost of the woman in the house)  Cell phone hung up exact same moment that Eric hit first note. 

·                  Tried “scrying” with a crystal that’s in the house for the purpose.  You do this by dangling the crystal from a hand or finger, waiting until it’s still, then asking it a question.  If the crystal moves one way, that means yes.  Moving the other way means no.  Asked questions, got responses, couldn’t decide if we were moving crystal or not so later put it back on pedestal and asked questions.  Crystal continued to move, though not as much.

·                 Discussed murder for way, way too long, resolved to check every closet of my home every night for the rest of my life.  Couldn’t decide how to deal with a newly discovered axe murderer in closet, elected to think about it later.

·                    Checked voice-activated tape recorder several times, getting sick feeling each time by closet, and getting excited when realized it had taped quite a few things.  Laughed hysterically when realized that most of the tape was a recording of Eric and I laughing hysterically downstairs.  Moved recorder to different locations.

·                    Returned downstairs, realized rug in living room—which had been completely straight when went upstairs—was disheveled and almost turned over.

·                    Freaked out a little.

·                    Discussed rug indefinitely.

·                           Try to blame things on drinking, realize that in spite of frequently witnessed  predilection for such activity, neither of us has had more than one drink (quite possibly strangest event of entire night!)

·                           Blew out half the kerosene lamps before contracting lung cancer or bursting into flame, got out flashlight so could read while Eric took brief nap.

·                Fell asleep with flashlight ON…but flashlight was OFF when woke up 2 hours later.  Flashlight was still working but had definitely been turned off.

·                           Woke to strange sounds of undetermined origin.  Felt cold chills and heard sounds upstairs.  Listened to odd thumping for approximately 20 minutes, then tried to wake Eric to see if he could hear same.  He heard a little but fell back asleep before I could convince him to go up with me and investigate.  Decided would rather cut off own arm than go up and explore alone.  Fell asleep again few minutes later.

·                           Eric awakened by strange feeling of something tugging on his shirt and pulling it up.  Eric unable to move for long moment.

·                           More freaking out.

·                           Return upstairs for final time to retrieve tape recorder from closet in children’s room.  Do NOT get sick feeling this time…but do hear the sound of thumping on tape.  Wonder what it is, then decide that it sounds like the closet door opening and shutting, open mouth to say this when closet door rattles and thumps exactly as on tape.

·                           Freak out a little…though Eric, the scientist, wants to make sure that thump is not natural occurrence.  Watch Eric jump up and down, trying to make door thump.  Point out that not only is he unsuccessful, but that we have also been up in room at least 5 times and the door has never, ever moved.


·                           Record our experiences in notebook Darwin has left for the purpose, pack up and discuss the experiences for 6 straight hours.  Resolve to return again in the future for more experimentation.


Like I said, I know many of you will scoff at this and I probably wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t been there but it was definitely worth the trip!

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