A two-hour documentary debuts tonight on Iowa’s worst mass murder — nearly a century ago. A husband and wife team, Kelly and Tammy Rundle, co-wrote, produced and directed the film “Villisca:Living with a Mystery.” Tammy Rundle is a Waterloo native. Kelly Rundle, a Quad Cities-area native, says he was lured to create the film by the fact the grisly western Iowa slayings from so long ago were never solved.A family of six and two visiting children were murdered with an ax in the town of Villisca. The bodies were discovered in the home on June 10, 1912. On the 92nd anniversary of the killings, the film will debut tonight at the State Historical Building in Des Moines. It examines the evidence in the case and the effects of the unsolved crime on the town, the county and the state in the decades that followed. Rundle says the documentary unveils the identity of the person who may be the real killer.They worked with a wealth of documents and a former FBI special agent who developed a profile of the killer to come up with “essentially a new suspect” and to clear the names of several people who’d been accused in the crime. The documentary features more than 50 interviews with scholars, criminologists, relatives of the victims and town residents, and hundreds of period photographs, documents, archival film, computer animation, original art and reenactments. Some might question why so much time is being devoted to a multiple-murder from so long ago. Rundle says it’s important to look back at history and learn lessons today. As for Villisca, he says the town did -not- come together after this shocking mass-killing, but neighbor turned against neighbor and the town fractured. Prior to the screening tonight, the event will feature a ragtime pianist, a barbershop quartet, vintage Model-Ts on display, actors in period dress and artifacts on display, including the infamous murder weapon. Over 40 other showings of the film are planned in five states this summer, including in: Villisca, Pella, Burlington, Davenport, Shenandoah, Iowa Falls, Decorah, Cedar Rapids, Leon, Red Oak and Cedar Falls. For more information, surf to “www.villisca.com” or “www.iowahistory.org”.
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