Friday, May 23, 2008

Villisca Photos

In my column at BoA last week, The Treachery of Images, Part II: This is not a Killer, I wrote about a strange old photo of a baby we found in an old Victorian-era album. The haunting look on the baby's face made me think it could possibly be a postmortem photo, so I typed in the only words found on it--the name and location of the photography studio: Van Alstine, Red Oak Iowa.
The search brought up the Villisca Axe Murders--nothing to do with my photograph, but curiously, there was a suspect arrested for the eight grisly homicides named Van Alstine, from nearby Red Oak Iowa.

Serendipitously, the same day my column was published, there was a link at The Anomalist to Troy Taylor's page, A Haunting Mystery: The Ghosts of the Villisca Ax Murder House. I just got around to checking that out yesterday, and I was pleased to find some photos I hadn't seen before.

There was even a photo of some of the victims--a couple with 2 children. The youngest one bears a striking resemblance to the infant in our album photo...see what you think.

Detail of image at Troy Taylor's site (left) and our photo.


theorris said...

A date on the top one would be key to establish the link, of course. I'm not sure how many photos of the dead were done with their eyes open. Mostly they were done with eyes shut--as if asleep. I do recall, however, that some folks were posed as if they were alive. Hmm.

Erin said...

I have thought about these photos of dead children in general, and being a mother myself, I know that if I had no photos of my child (photos were a lot less commonplace back then right?) then I would want one to remember them by if they passed.I don't think of it as morbid, just a grieving mother trying to hold on to that sweet baby's face.

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