Local award-winning director releases documentary exploring ax murders
• Film explores 1911-1912 Villisca (Iowa) ax murders
Rockford filmmaker Stuart Wahlin has premiered a new documentary about a series of 100-year-old unsolved murders.
The Ax Man Enigma: The real-life inspiration behind “Slay Utterly” debuted on Facebook June 10, which marked the 101st anniversary of the unsolved Villisca (Iowa) ax murders.
“Villisca is the most well-known in this series of crimes, largely attributable to the popularity of paranormal TV shows that have featured the house where the murders occurred ,” Wahlin explained. “But what few people realize is that the Villisca crime scene was not unique.”
During a two-year period (1911-1912), a rash of eerily-similar ax murders swept across the Midwest. Leaving unique crime scene signatures in his wake, it is believed the “Ax Man” may have been responsible for at least two-dozen murders. No one was ever brought to justice.
“The documentary is really aimed at educating people about the case, while also generating interest in our upcoming feature film,” Wahlin added, noting The Ax Man Enigma’s release coincides with a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign for Slay Utterly, which is a modern crime thriller inspired by the case. That film is slated for a 2014 release.
Wahlin, a former Rockford journalist, was awarded Best Director at the Prairie State Film Festival in Chicago last year for his film, Hand of Glory.
From the June 12-18, 2013, issue