(L to R: Beth Punko, Lisa Kovanda, Katie Cloran, Phyllicia Spidell, and Sandy Spidell. Photograph courtesy of Punkography)
Villisca Axe Murder House...Part I
The Date: August 3rd, 2010. The Place: Villisca Iowa, Scene of the Villisca Axe Murders. The Event: A group of five writers/colleagues/ and good friends take on an overnight investigation of the location Travel Channel lists as "#1 Most Terrifying Place in America"
The first question I got when I told people I was going to go spend the night in the Villisca Axe Murder House was, "WHY?" To that, I say, WHY NOT? In reality, I had my own paranormal experiences in the mid 1980's. I can't explain what happened in that house, and I can't go there to investigate, as the house has since been torn down. I'm also a writer, and much of what I write has paranormal elements. In fact, one of my novels (Emmaline, completed, in revision) has a ghost hunter as a main character. So, in a practical sense, this is all research for writing projects.
Much deeper than the research aspect is a curiosity. Among our group, we counted devout Catholics, Goddess spiritualists, agnostics, and apathetics. All of us had our own questions about what the presence of ghosts or spirits means. Is it proof of an afterlife? Does it negate the traditional Judeo-Christian theories? Is it residual energy? Or, is it all a bunch of hogwash?
I won't pretend to have answers. These are questions one must answer for themselves. I think if you ask the five of us who went, you'll get five different answers about what it "meant" to us. I also can't tell you what anyone else hoped to get out of the experience, although I do know through our many discussions through the night that all of us have had some level of encounter with the unexplained before coming to Villisca.
One question that kept coming up through the course of the night was, "What do you hope to get out of this? What do you hope/need to see or experience while you're here?" For me, I've seen apparitions, had something touch me, and had things move on their own in ther past. What I wanted from Villisca was something concrete and measurable to back up those experiences from the '80's. An EVP, solid K2 evidence, or something caught on video or camera. Beth said she wanted to be touched.
Did I get what I was after? Well, I have HOURS of audio and video to pour through, and a lot of photographs as well. But as far as experiences from the night, I can't explain the K2 activity. I can't explain the closet door, or getting my hair pulled. Beth got touched, as did Phyllicia. Could there be other explanations? Will our evidence stand up to scrutiny? I don't know. But I do know that for the two of us who asked for specific things to happen, we got what we asked for.
Another thing I was after on this trip was to challenge my own limits. I didn't think I'd be able to go sit in a dark closed closet with the K2 meter flipping out. I didn't think I could go hang out in a dank dark cellar where shadow people have been reported. I didn't think I'd be able to sit all alone in the house and do a Tarot spread. I did think I might panic if anything actually happened. (Other than the one squeal when the big boom of thunder hit) Guess what? I did each and every one of the things I didn't think I'd be able to do. WIN!
The other thing that is a WIN? Having an adventure with four amazing friends. We formed some bonds through this experience that will never go away. I can sooo see the allure of ghost hunting. Some of us are already talking about finding the next location!
Coming: Evidence review; Tarot spread and explanations; Bloopers and Outtakes... and anything else you want me to talk about!