Moline, IL, July 26, 2007 --(PR.com
)-- KPTS to air award-winning & critically-acclaimed documentary film about
unsolved 1912 Iowa axe murder case. Filmmakers explore connection to 1911 Ellsworth, Kansas mass murder. Crime scenes combine elements of clutter and BTK cases
What happens when murder visits a small town and never goes away? Viewers will find out when KPTS airs the award-winning and critically-acclaimed documentary feature film "Villisca: Living with a Mystery.”
When an entire family was murdered on a June evening in 1912, a small Midwestern town spiraled into chaos and division. The still-unsolved axe murder mystery made national headlines, built and ruined political careers, created a lasting community split over the guilt or innocence of a local State Senator, and produced three sensational trials. Repercussions remain in the community today.
"Villisca" tells the epic true story of Iowa's worst mass homicide, the Villisca Axe Murders, and its connections to similar Midwestern crimes. Ten years in the making, filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle teamed with historian Dr. Edgar V. Epperly and gathered dozens of hours of footage featuring the infamous axe murder house, bloodhounds, and interviews with historians, eyewitnesses, and forensic experts including former FBI Special Agent and profiler Robert K. Ressler, the man who coined the term "serial killer.” The murder weapon, a long-handled axe, is the only remaining piece of physical evidence. The town of Villisca is divided on how to recognize this aspect of their history.
The Rundles collected hundreds of previously unseen period photographs, unearthed a forgotten Bureau of Criminal Investigation case file, successfully petitioned a judge for access to 5,000-pages of secret grand jury testimony, reviewed dusty Attorney General's files, and traveled to the sites of similar unsolved murders, including Ellsworth, Kansas where the five-member William Showman family was murdered with an axe in October 1911. “Villisca” screened in Ellsworth in 2004.
The Rundles’ search led them to explore a possible connection between the Villisca crime, and similar crimes in Ellsworth, Kansas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Monmouth, Illinois; and a man who served time in the Kansas State Reformatory. Crime scene details in Iowa and Kansas indicated a sexual motive, and echo elements of the Clutter mass murder and BTK serial murder cases.
“Villisca: Living with a Mystery” was released in theaters in 60 cities, went on to qualify for the 2005 Academy Award competition, was an official selection and award-winner at numerous film festivals, and was released nationally on DVD in 2006. The film had its broadcast premiere on Iowa Public Television drawing nearly 80,000 viewers in just three showings. Kansas Public Telecommunications Services (KPTS) will air “Villisca” on Sunday, July 29 at 7 pm.
Kansas Public Telecommunications (KPTS) is based in Wichita, Kansas and serves south central Kansas, offering quality, enriching, entertaining, and educational programming throughout the region for over thirty-seven years.
The Rundles are the owners of Fourth Wall Films, an independent film and video production company formerly located in Los Angeles, and now based in Moline, Illinois.