A Wisconsin man conducting a paranormal investigation was hospitalized early Friday for what authorities believe was a self-inflicted stab wound in the chest he suffered at the Villisca Axe Murder House.

Montgomery County Sheriff Joe Sampson said Robert Laursen Jr., of Rhinelander, Wisc., was alone in a room of the house when other paranormal investigators heard him yell for help. When they arrived, they found him with a stab wound to the chest and called 911.

Villisca Rescue transported Laursen, 37, to Clarinda Regional Hospital before he was taken by medical helicopter to CHI Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha.

Jodi Hoatson, a spokeswoman for CHI Health, declined to provide an update on Laursen’s condition Friday morning. Sampson said Laursen was in serious condition when he was taken to the hospital.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said it doesn’t expect to file charges because there is no indication of foul play. Sampson said an investigation showed no indication the stab wound was caused by an accident or fall.

The sheriff added that there’s never been a report of a similar situation at the restored home at 508 E. Second St., which is on the National Register of Historic Places, despite its international renown among those seeking evidence of paranormal activity.

“We’ve never had an incident there,” he said.

The Wisconsin man was visiting the house – famed for eight brutal, unsolved axe murders that took place under its roof on June 10, 1912 – for what authorities called a “recreational paranormal investigation.” More than a century later, the building and an affiliated museum remain a must-see for those seeking real-life haunted houses.

“It’s all walks of life that have an interest in that story,” said Martha Linn of Corning, who owns and operates the house for visitors. “Sometimes, it gets overpowering when you’re in there at night.”

She said Laursen was part of a family group of paranormal investigators staying overnight. Though she didn’t know Laursen, she said the other family members had visited the home multiple times.

Linn first learned about the stabbing when her clock-radio woke her up at 7 a.m. A local radio program was providing updates from Villisca.

The Villisca Axe Murder House is a popular overnight stay for far more groups than just paranormal hunters. Criminologists and college professors are among those to have booked overnight stays in the coming months, Linn said.

“As cold weather comes on, it’s not quite as active, but we’re still pretty busy,” she said.

Sign up for The Daily Nonpareil news alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.