"Villisca: Living with a Mystery" Premieres June 10 in Des Moines

For immediate release May 18, 2004



Margi Weiss, (515) 281-8823

"Eight Found Dead in Peaceful Iowa Village"

Des Moines, Iowa—Carried in newspapers from coast to coast, this headline announced the discovery of America’s greatest unsolved mystery and Iowa’s worst mass homicide: the 1912 Villisca, Iowa axe murders. Ninety-two years later, on the anniversary of the gruesome crime, Fourth Wall Films presents a new documentary feature film "Villisca: Living with a Mystery." The documentary will premiere on June 10 at the State Historical Building in Des Moines. "Villisca: Living with a Mystery" is the epic tale of a town forever altered by the brutal June 10, 1912 axe murders of a family of six and two overnight guests, and examines the effects of the unsolved crime on the town, the county and the state of Iowa in the decades following 1912.

The first-ever screening of this revealing new documentary will include an evening of turn-of-the-century entertainment, including a cocktail reception, ragtime pianist, barbershop quartet, vintage Model Ts on display, actors in period dress, and artifacts on display, including the infamous murder weapon (on loan for these events). Following the screening will be an unprecedented panel discussion led by Mary Brubaker and including filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle, historians Dr. Edgar Epperly and Dr. Bruce Stillians, victim relatives Robert Moore and Adrianne (Stillinger) Graham, and former Villisca mayor Susie Enarson. As a fundraiser for the State Historical Society of Iowa, this event begins at 5 p.m. and costs $75 per person. Tickets can be purchased by calling 515-281-6911 or online at www.iowahistory.org.

Further shows are as follows:
June 11, "Screening Under the Stars," 8:45 p.m. on the State Historical Building Grand Terrace. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door. Bring blanket or lawn chair.
June 12, 2 p.m. State Historical Building Theatre, $8.
June 12, 7 p.m. State Historical Building Theatre, $10.
June 13, 2 p.m. State Historical Building Theatre, $8.
June 13, 7 p.m. State Historical Building Theatre, $10.

Ten years in the making, "Villisca" combines over 50 interviews with scholars, criminologists, relatives of the victims, and town residents, with hundreds of period photographs, documents, archival film, computer animation, original art and the limited use of re-enactments, to shed new light on the mystery, its longterm impact, and reveal the face of a killer using new historical research and forensic discoveries.

"Villisca" was awarded grants by Humanities Iowa, The Nebraska Humanities Council, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Red Oak Heritage Foundation. Iowa Public Television served as a fiscal sponsor.

Please note that the subject matter of this historical documentary (a mystery involving the murder of children and other adult themes) may be too intense for those under 12. Parental guidance is strongly encouraged.

For more information, visit www.villisca.com or www.iowahistory.org.


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