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Monday, April 27th 2009

8:41 PM

New York Times Article - June 11, 1912

I found an interesting article today while doing a little research for the website in the NY Times archive.  Despite the fact that the media today is constantly flogged for their sensationalism and propoganda, you have to admit when you read what was printed in the early 1900's, "we've come a long way, baby!"  Here's the link if you'd like to see it for yourself, but I'm pretty sure you'll agree.  The headline was: 


Iowa man, His Wife and Children and Two Visitors Killed with an Axe.


Crime probably that of a Madman - fingerprints the only Clue - House Doors Locked

The murders, according to this article occurred in the home of "James" B. Moore (not Josiah) and included his family as well as Edith and Blanche Stillinger. (not Lena and Ina).  Although there were no signs of a struggle, one of the girls had "apparently raised one arm in an appeal for mercy."  Towards the middle of the article Lena was referred to as "one of the Spillinger girls"

The article goes on to say that the only clues to the "slayer" were "bloody fingerprints" found in different parts of the house, including near the knob of the front door which indicated the murderer had locked it upon leaving the house.   When describing J.B.  the newspaper states that "He was one of the most prominent men in the city.  His home and family life were ideal.  There was not a blot on the happiness of himself and his wife and his children." 

The paper also reports that "authorities are working in the dark.  It is believed that the madman - and it is thought he must have been insane - entered the house through the downstairs window.  The screen was apparently removed and the intruder, tiptoeing his way through the first floor, must have come upon the Stillinger girls first.  Apparently he raised the axe and brought it down first upon the head of one girl and then upon that of her sister.  It is surmised that neither girl cried out, as there is nothing to indicate the victims upstairs had any warning."

I hesitate to think of how much money an accused murderer could sue the Times for today if they suggested in print that he was "a madman" as aptly fitting as the title may be.  The article, despite it's obvious attempt to stir it's reader. does, however, bring up an interesting possibility that I've never really heard anyone discuss much.  I think we all assume that Josiah and Sarah were murdered first simply because J.B. would have posed the biggest threat to the murderer but  it also doesn't make much sense to most people that the girls downstairs could have slept through what was happening upstairs.  If you've been in the house - you know every sound filters down.  I do know, however, that children sometimes sleep like logs and my house could probably burn down around mine and they wouldn't wake up.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts... shoot me an email or tag the board with your comments on this one.



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