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Ax Murder Case & Open Lines

Date: 01-17-14
Host: George Noory
Guests: Nicholas Pistor, Open Lines

In the first half of the program, author and journalist Nick Pistor joined George Noory to discuss a grisly murder that occurred more than a century ago in Saxtown, Illinois. Pistor, who grew up a few miles from the scene of this unsolved crime, said he heard about the gruesome event as a child and became even more intrigued about it after speaking with Fr. Francis Cleary, a Jesuit priest at St. Louis University who specialized in the folklore surrounding the murders.

According to reports from the time, an unknown perpetrator used an ax to brutally kill every member of a family of German immigrant farmers, including young children. The bodies were so badly mutilated that some of the victims could not be recognized, Pistor noted. Eight different suspects were arrested over the course of the ensuing investigation but later let go due to lack of evidence, he reported. Many think the motivation for the murders was an inheritance the family received from Germany, Pistor added, pointing out that killer was likely a relative or at the very least someone they knew.

Pistor also talked about Fr. Cleary's work as historian of The Exorcist case and how such events become mythologized. The events presented the novel/movie were inspired by the 1949 exorcism case of Roland Doe. Whatever may have ultimately afflicted the boy, an alleged demonic possession or psychiatric issue, the rite of exorcism seems to have worked, Pistor revealed. Doe is thought to be alive and living in the Washington DC area, he said.

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During Open Lines, Charles in Austin, Texas, told George about an ax murder case that happened in his hometown during the 1880s. Known as The Servant Girl Murders, the bloody crime claimed the lives of eight victims one moonlit night. According to Charles, the crime may have been part of the reason the city installed moon towers, referencing a scene from the film Dazed and Confused in which a group of students party atop one.

Michael from Livermore, California, shared the touching story of a homeless man he befriended at an off-ramp. Michael said he helped the guy transition to an apartment and acquire a turkey for Thanksgiving so he could celebrate the holiday with his children. Henry in St. Louis voiced his opinion about the double standard regarding violence exhibited by those who claim to abhor it while at the same time enjoying violent video games and movies for entertainment.

News segment guests: Howard Bloom / David Seaman / Lauren Weinstein

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