Amateur Ghost Hunter Stabs Himself Inside Villisca Ax Murder House

This story is blowing up all over the Internet, even though many of the specifics are not yet known (shocking, isn’t it). My paranormal Spidey Senses have been tingling ever since I first read the story, though, and I have a bad feeling that no matter how this plays out, it’s not going to end well for the field of paranormal research.

It is alleged that in the early morning hours of Friday, November 7th, 2014, 37-year-old Robert Steven Laursen Jr. was taking part in a ghost hunt with several other individuals at the infamous Villisca Ax Murder House in Iowa.  At approximately 12:45 am, Laursen was alone in one of the rooms when the other individuals heard him call out for help. When they reached him, they found Laursen on the floor, suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted stab wound in his chest. Laursen was taken to Clarinda Regional Hospital before being airlifted to CHI Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha. He was last listed in serious condition.

–via the Daily Nonpareil

When reached for comment, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office stated their investigation “showed no indication the stab wound was caused by an accident or fall”. Further, since there was “no indication of foul play”, the Sheriff’s Office did not expect to be filing any charges.

The Sheriff’s Office concluded that there had never “been a report of a similar situation” at the Villisca Ax Murder House before.

Sad and disturbing news, to be sure. But why does it have me so concerned? Well, for starters, I think it is only a matter of time before someone brings up the dark history of the house and tries to say there is some sort of “demonic” presence lingering within the walls of the home that someone forced this guy to knife himself. When (not if) that happens, the demonic/possession/satanic floodgates are going to open wide and that house is going to be awash in reality show posers and wannabes, all ready to do battle with the devil and his minions. You know I’m right. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 3 ghost reality show “stars” who are literally licking their chops and oiling up their pecs as we speak at the idea of doing an upcoming episode inside the house. That’s saying nothing of the slew of “I’m not really a member of the clergy, but I play one on reality TV shows” guys busy pressing their Halloween Express-purchased priest outfits and giving an extra blast of starch to their fake clerical collars.

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“The power of Halloween Express compels you!” –via Halloween Express

For the past few years, there has been a disturbing trend (as least for me) developing among the vast majority of these ghost reality shows. Namely, the ghosts are getting angrier and angrier. Now, it is no longer just angry ghosts, but demonic spirits. Sadly, I think the Villisca Ax Murder House just unwittingly gave these shows a potential new angle: demonic spirits that can stab people.

Even if I’m wrong (and I sincerely hope that I am), there’s something else that bothers me, perhaps even more so than the reality TV angle. If we take the devil out of this occurrence, what we are left with is an individual who clearly has some sort of emotional problem. A problem that clearly can manifest itself in violent ways. Now you could make the case that the only person Laursen harmed was himself, but the fact that an individual apparently plunged a knife into his own chest on purpose can not be ignored. And he chose to do it during a public ghost hunt.

I don’t know about you, but ghost hunts have always been events that I’ve felt safe at. Even on the public hunts I conduct with fans of my organization, The Ghosts of Ohio, I’ve always felt like I was among kindred spirits. If I ever did worry about being hurt, it was usually thinking I was going to trip and fall in the dark or maybe a piece of an old building’s ceiling breaking off and braining me. Not once has it ever occurred to me that the danger might be coming from a fellow ghost hunter in my group. Until now.

–via the Daily Nonpareil

This is not to imply that Laursen meant to harm anyone other than himself that night in Villisca. We just don’t know what his intentions were and perhaps we never will. Either way, it does seem to imply that from this point on, we all need to take a closer look at who we choose to get locked inside a haunted building with.

Sadder still, no matter how you look at it, there’s no denying that the fields of ghost hunting and paranormal research have both just lost a bit more of their innocence. Not that we had that much left to lose.


One of the first newspapers to cover this story was the Daily Nonpareil. You can access that article here. covered the story and includes some more quotes from the owner of the Ax Murder House. You can read the article here. also covered the story, but basically has the same information as the Daily Nonpareil. It does include a link to a video tour of the Ax Murder House, though. The article and video can be found here.

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