Kelly Rundle over at the Villisca Axe Murder Blog posts today about the recent AP article relating to the reinstitution of after dark Trick-or-Treating in Oil City, PA. He makes a good point about how towns deal when tragedy strikes.
It is possible that cancelling Halloween for many years contributed to a focus
on the murder.
However, there are no handbooks or instructions available to cities wounded by violence, and communities are left to define themselves via action or inaction in the immediate and enduring wake of a tragedy...as they have done in Villisca, Iowa.
Some towns embrace it, like Fall River, Massachusetts, while others run from it without much success, like Amityville, NY (I know, not really a town but leave me alone). The Oct. 26, 1911 edition of the Ellsworth Reporter warned
that the children of this city [not] follow their usual custom of inflicting
petty annoyances upon the people of Ellsworth on the nights of Sunday, Monday
and Tuesday, which are known as Tick-tack, Corn, and Halloween nights. Our
people are still considerably wrought up over the murder and it is said that a
great many have purchased firearms with which to defend themselves in case of an
Everyone in Ellsworth today knows there was an axe murder on the outskirts of town. It’s part of the local lore and the place where the Showman house once stood is referred to as “The Hatchet” but very few resident’s know the family’s name. In Monmouth, Colorado Springs and Paola (KS) the crimes are completely unknown except by a few locals. I look at the strife Villisca went through after the crime and I see the way the town struggles with the crime today and I wonder if it’s worth the effort to drudge up murders that haven’t been thought of in a generation or more. Shauna’s killers have been brought to justice and while it may not be enough for some, it is more justice than many victims ever get and certainly more than any of the victims of the Midwest Axe Man have received, and at this moment, knowing the victim's names is all we can do.