Sherri in comments asks a good question that I haven’t really addressed: Why not Rev. Lyn Kelly? Any of you who have read about the Villisca crime know who Lyn Kelly was and those of you who don’t need to get over the Villisca Axe Murders blog and study. In brief, Lyn Kelly was a tiny, weird little preacher who was in Villisca on the night of the murders. Rev. Kelly was absolutely howl-at-the-moon crazy and had a bit of a peeper’s fetish. He’d been busted in one town for peeking in a window, arrested in another town for trying to hire a young lady to type and pose nude for him and in another town had cornered a young girl and spent the better part of an hour trying to talk her into undressing for him. His relationship with his wife was more like that of a mother and it is believed the two never consummated the marriage. But was Kelly a psychopath?
Looking at two of the crime scenes you can draw a few conclusions without needing to be a trained profiler. In Colorado Springs the killer acted strangely. Think Jack the Ripper on the night known as the double event. A run-of-the mill breaking and entering crime gone wrong would have the killer fleeing the scene after the first murder and getting away as fast as possible. Instead the unsub went to the neighbors’ house and killed them as well. The risk involved was substantial with houses all around the area, trolleys clanging down the street and men walking to work. Absolute calm had to be maintained through all of it. In Ellsworth, while the chance of discovery wasn’t as great, it was still there. The killer apparently made an attempt to break into another house but was interrupted by the owner (in this case it was Marshall Merritt) but this near brush with discovery did not dissuade the killer at all. With Bill Miller’s axe in hand, the killer walked south among other houses for quite some distance until he came to the Showman house. If the bloodhound trail was accurate, he hid in some bushes behind the house in order to observe. After he killed the family he washed his hands, wiped the axe down and posed Pauline. He then stepped out the front door, hopped a train and left town. In order to do this there had to be an escape strategy other wise the entire getaway would have been based on whether or not a train was passing by. Did he wait inside the house until a train came or did he lounge on the front porch? Or did he have an idea of how long to stay inside before hopping the train?
Judging by the way Kelly reacted while in jail and during the trial it is clear he couldn’t handle high pressure situations. He shrank in his chair during the trial and while he had some peculiarities with regard to children it seems he just didn’t have the nerves required to break into a house without waking anyone, kill the occupants without waking anyone and then escape unnoticed through town. Now Dr. Epperly knows a lot more about Rev. Kelly than I do and I look forward to reading the upcoming book once it comes out but based on what I know I just can’t see Lyn Kelly as being able to pull any of this off.