Iowa is a pretty safe state. We don’t have nearly as much crime as many of the larger states and, for the most part, life around here is normal. But that doesn’t mean strange and scary things can’t, and don’t, happen. From mysterious creature sightings to bone chilling murders, here are seven of Iowa’s most infamous, most disturbing and most baffling unsolved mysteries.
1. The Visitor of Van Meter
Possibly the most mysterious and spine-tingling, incident to have ever happened in Iowa is the infamous Visitor of Van Meter. It all began in 1903, when several of Van Meter’s most well respected citizens reported seeing a half human, half animal creature with enormous bat wings flying about the town.
The townsfolk said it traveled at rates of speed they'd never seen, let off a powerful stench and shot a blinding light from its horned head.
Though they shot their guns at it, the creature was unaffected. The creature had been seen by many reputable towns-members, including the town doctor and bank cashier, the local high school teacher and countless other people. The creature, which the townsfolk thought to be a demon, terrorized the town for several days until a group of citizens got together with their guns, and chased the creature into a nearby mine, where it disappeared, never to be seen again.
2. Bigfoot Sightings in Ottosen
In 1978, the residents of Ottosen, Iowa, reported strange sights and sounds around town, especially in the forest. Townsfolk reported being awakened by strange screams and an eerie, high-pitched whistle. But it didn't stop there. Cats showed up dead and mutilated and people woke up to dogs with their necks snapped. Many townsfolk even reported seeing a large, hairy, man-like creature wandering around town. One woman reported that she was doing dishes one night when she looked up to see a pair of glowing red eyes outside the window, staring at her. After she screamed, the creature ran away. It was seen by several different townsfolk on several different occasions but nobody ever found out what exactly happened that year in 1978.
3. The Earling Exorcism
The Earling Exorcism, or the exorcism of Anna Ecklund, is a prominent case not only in Iowa but throughout the country. The movie "The Exorcist" is partially based off of the Earling Exorcism. Anna was a normal Iowan girl, who went to church and said her prayers. But, at the age of 14, she started showing signs of possession. She reportedly could not enter the church, and showed extreme aversion to anything religious. It is also reported that demons spoke through her in Latin and other ancient languages she had no training in, and that a pea sized lump moved freely through her body. At the age of 26, Anna sought help from a priest, who performed the last sanctioned exorcism on her. It took 23 days, and with great difficulty, the several demons inhabiting her were exorcised. Her case remains a mystery, and it's debated whether or not she was really possessed, or just insane.
4. The Villisca Ax Murders
One warm June night in 1912, the Moore family came home from a church event, tucked the kids in, and went to bed. The family, Josiah, his wife Sara, their four children, and the two children they were watching, did not survive the night. They were found in the morning, murdered in cold blood with an ax that belonged to Josiah. Several people were tried and found not guilty, so the killer was is still a mystery. The house is supposed to be haunted now, and the current owner rents it out for people to stay the night in.
5. The Disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit
Jodi Huisentruit was a well-known and well-liked anchorwoman for a TV station in Mason City, Iowa. On the morning of June 27, 1995, she was supposed to work at 4 a.m., but slept in. A coworker called her and she left home shortly after but Jodi never showed up to work. A coworker went to her apartment and found some of her belongings were scattered around her car. It appeared that a struggle had taken place and she was probably abducted. Jodi had no known enemies, so police thought it may have been a crazed stalker who abducted her and probably killed her soon after. No trace of her was ever found and her case remains unsolved though she was declared legally dead in 2001.
6. The Murder of Myrtle Cook
In September of 1925, Myrtle Cook was shot dead in her Vinton home, a few days after publishing the names of suspected bootleggers. She was sitting in her window seat, rehearsing a speech, when an unknown assailant shot her through the heart, killing her within the hour. Cook was not a well liked citizen, and was a member of both the KKK and the Women's Christian Temperance Union; both organizations that supported Prohibition. Cook's death remains a mystery, though many think it was one of the bootleggers she exposed.
7. The Rowe-Richardson Twins
Now that I've scared you will all the creepy, disturbing unsolved mysteries, I'll give you guys a nice one to end with. The story of the Rowe-Richardson twins is truly bizarre and baffling. The twins, who were born in 1933, are believed to have some sort of ESP that connects them, so they can feel each other's pain and know what is happening with the other one. Throughout their lives, they experienced the same illnesses and injuries and could sense when the other twin was in distress. One story goes that when Lavelda got in a car accident, Lavona knew about it, and was able to show her father exactly where it happened. To this day, nobody can explain the twins' strange ESP powers and they are even said to have the strongest ESP of any twins ever reported.
Pretty weird stuff, huh? What are some more unsolved mysteries of Iowa? Share them with us!