Exploring one of history’s most baffling murder mysteries.
The Villisca Ax Murders Mystery
This episode starts with a brutal axe murder that scandalized the quiet town of Villisca, about 2,000 souls in the summer of 1912, when a family of six and two young visitors were killed in their beds by an assailant wielding a long-handled axe, the family’s own tool, which was left at the scene.
Clues were scant, and it took years for the twists and subplots to emerge, including a string of similar murders, implications that it was a job for hire by a business rival, and a bizarre confession by an itinerant minister five years later.
And for some reason, there seems to be a lot of fortunetellers and clairvoyants in this narrative.
Musical direction by Dave Sams
Horror ambiance by the Klankbeeld team via freesound.org
A reading from America’s historical newspapers in the golden age of yellow journalism
Panic at the Italian Hall
This episode comes from the request of a listener in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan who wanted to know more about the panic disaster that took place at the Calumet Italian Hall in 1913.
I actually went through Calumet a couple of years ago on vacation when we wanted to see what the upper peninsula of the upper peninsula of Michigan was like.
We found a lot of good microbreweries and wandered about some of the old copper mines, but we missed the monument dedicated to the victims of this horrible tragedy.
Now that I know about it, the next time I’m in Calumet, I will definitely pay my respects. It’s a sad story, folks, but I think it’s an important one to remember because it’s all about what happens when we lose our civility.
Theme music by Dave Sams
Some incidental music via musopen.org Creative Commons license