Ghosts of the Saxtown Ax Murders

Stelzriede family monument

Stelzriede Family Monument

On the night of March 19, 1874, someone clubbed the Stelzriede family to death inside their Millstadt, IL home. The victims included Friedrich and Anna Stelzriede, their two-year-old son Karl, their eight-month-old daughter Anna, and Friedrich’s elderly father. In addition to clubbing each member of the family, the murderer also slashed the adults’ throats. An unlucky neighbor discovered the gruesome crime scene the next day.

The Stelzriede’s ransacked home suggests robbery as a motive, though this is merely a guess. Police interrogated several suspects, including two Stelzriede nephews, but were unable to solve the crime. Could that be why ghosts reportedly walk the old Stelzriede property on Saxtown Road?

The Stelzriede’s log home has long since been demolished, but that hasn’t stopped rumors of ghosts. According to the newly published book The Ax Murders of Saxtown, owner Randy Eckert had an experience his first week on the property.

“Eckert and his wife were awakened by what sounded like a door closing and then by a dog barking,” author Nicholas J.C. Pistor writes. “They looked outside and searched the small house and its surroundings. Nothing was there. But their own dog was posted silently at the foot of the bed – shivering, shaking. Scared to death.”

Eckert claims weird things typically occur on or near the anniversary of the murder. A renter once awoke to a knock at the door, while his girlfriend heard someone walking up the steps of the basement. Other tenants have heard dogs barking, doors opening, and unexplained knocking sounds. Paranormal investigators once visited the property and recorded EVPs.

Much like the Lizzie Borden murders and the slayings in Villisca, IA, the Saxtown massacre has inspired a slew of ghost stories. But are they true or merely trumped up tales fueled by tragedy? What do you believe?