Love Nest murders

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Love Nest Bed and Breakfast

Historically known as The Thaddeus House

Stone Arch Bridge (Danville, Illinois) is located in Illinois
Location: 600 Maple St., DeVille, Illinois
Coordinates: 39°51′6″N 88°56′39″WN 87.61778°W / 40.12444; -87.61778
 / 40.12444°N 87.61778°W / 40.12444; -87.6
Built: 1911
Architect: Thaddeus, Rexford
Architectural style: American Four-Square

The Love Nest murders [1][2] took place at the Love Nest Bed and Breakfast on 600 Maple Street in DeVille, Illinois, on Christmas Eve, 1986. The murderer and co-owner of the bed and breakfast, Victor Mueller, videotaped himself as he fatally shot 3 guests, then shot and fatally stabbed his pregnant wife, Christine Mueller, before turning the gun on himself. The victims were 3 members of the Roberts family —Peter Roberts (37), Linda Roberts (35), their son Billy Roberts (11)— Christine Mueller (46), and the killer himself (52). The sole survivor was 9-year-old Jacy Roberts who fled the house during the killings. The murders' notoriety was in part due to the unusual history of the house and its original owner, "Dr." Rexford Thaddeus, a Magick practitioner and holistic sex therapist. The name of the bed and breakfast alluded to that history.

 

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Victims

The Roberts family from Appleton, Wisconsin — husband Peter, wife Linda, son William ("Billy"), and daughter Jacy — were in DeVille, Illinois visiting friends for the Christmas holiday. On previous visits they had met Christine Mueller through mutual friends and had arranged a holiday stay at The Love Nest Bed and Breakfast. After attending a late evening mass with their friends, they returned to the bed and breakfast and readied for bed. All were in their night clothes when the murders began around 11:45 p.m.

Billy Roberts — Evidence indicates that Billy apparently interrupted Victor Mueller in the living room prior to his planned rampage. The honor student, active in drama and show choir,[1] was found shot in the foyer by the front door, apparently trying to escape. He was shot twice, first in the back, then in the neck.

Peter Roberts — Peter, an electrical engineer, was in the second floor bedroom when the killer proceeded upstairs. Evidence indicates that Peter was the first to confront him. Peter was shot twice, once in the chest, and once in the head after he had fallen to the bedroom floor.

Linda Roberts — A special education teacher, it was Linda that made the arrangements to stay at the bed and breakfast. Evidence indicates that she was getting out of bed when the killer entered the bedroom to shoot her husband. She suffered a defensive wound through her hand, apparently holding it in front of her when the killer pointed his gun at her. She died from a second, fatal, shot to the head.

Christine Mueller — Co-owner of the Love Nest Bed and Breakfast, a place she called her "dream house," Christine was 3 months pregnant with what was assumed to be Victor's child. Of all the victims Christine suffered the most horrific of the injuries. She too was upstairs when the shooting began. She was shot twice, but managed to make it downstairs to the living room before collapsing. Victor followed her downstairs and stabbed her 16 times with a buck knife as she lay on the floor. Evidence indicates she lived for nearly an hour after the stabbing with the buck knife still embedded in her neck.

 

Murderer

The murderer, Victor Mueller, was a retired first lieutenant in the United States Air Force who was actively involved in a local evangelical church. Despite the public nature of the bed and breakfast, he rarely spoke to most guests and was regularly seen reading the Bible. He met his wife Christine at a church function 8 years prior to the murders. Testimony indicates he disapproved of this wife's marketing of the bed and breakfast, including its name.[3] Victor was also an avid marksman who had received several medals for his skills, including one for Small Arms Expert Marksmanship. He was regularly seen shooting the Glock 17 he used in the murders.[1] Despite this skill, he never rose far in the military ranks. Service records indicate psychological issues to be the reason.[4] His marksmanship skills are apparent in the manner in which he killed his victims. Most were methodically shot a second time to ensure fatality. The fact that he did not kill his wife with the same efficiency suggests her death was premeditated to be personally vindictive.[1] The presence of the video camera footage, currently unavailable to the public,[5] made for an incontrovertible guilty verdict. The video camera was purchased by Christine not long after she was found to be pregnant. Friends state that she wanted Victor to learn to use it so he could film their child, though he told her he was not interested in learning to use it.[3] The video and evidence at the scene indicate a premeditated plan. After killing his victims, Victor killed himself with a shot through the heart. Victor's choice to shoot himself through the heart rather than the head, has been a point of speculation among many.[3]

 

Survivor

The sole-survivor of the massacre was Jacy Roberts, 9, who was upstairs when the rampage began. An honor student, actress, and grade school track star[1], Jacy was able to escape the chaos upstairs and make it down to the living room. There she was forced to hide when Victor Mueller appeared pursuing his wife Christine. In the video she reportedly can be seen hiding, and ultimately escaping, while Victor is distracted stabbing Christine. She fled in the snow in her stocking feet and a thin nightgown. When bystanders reported her to the police, they found her still running. She reportedly had to be physically stopped by an officer.[5] Despite being a witness, Jacy never testified in court and has never spoken publicly about her ordeal. Soon after the murders was placed in foster care. Her name was changed and the court records sealed.[5] Her whereabouts are currently unknown.

 

[edit] Motives and Conjecture

As there was no suicide note left by Victor Mueller, there has been much conjecture as to his motives for the crime. The bed and breakfast was doing well financially, but friends say Victor and Christine had been drifting apart since the purchase of the house.[1] Previously a regular churchgoer, she soon stopped attending and focused on the promotion and upkeep of the bed and breakfast. The “love nest” theme was a bitter point of contention in the marriage.[2] Victor felt the history of the house, with it's sexual "counselors," love potions, and pagan practices, should be ignored and favored something with a Christian theme.[2] Christine, however, felt that capitalizing on the sexual history of the house was the only way it would succeed.[2] Testimony of Christine's friends and relatives indicates she began to make decisions unilaterally without regard to Victory or her marriage.[3] Given Victor's traditional views on marriage, Christine was "convinced" he would never divorce her. She felt it was up to him to "change with her." Testimony of Victor's friends and relatives suggests he feared both his loss of control over Christine, and his own "fall" from "Grace of God."[3] Given their increasing distance, friends and relatives testified they were surprised by Christine's pregnancy in the months preceding the murders. DNA tests were not done at the time, but it has been speculated that the child may not have been Victor's.[2] As for the killing of the Roberts family, it appears Victor had no specific reason to target them.

 

[edit] The Thaddeus House

Prior to the Love Nest murders, "The Thaddeus House," as it is known locally, had a controversial notoriety of its own extending back to the early 1900s. Built on a potter's field by its enigmatic and controversial owner, "Dr." Rexford Thaddeus, the house served as a home for young, single mothers, a sexual therapy clinic, a site of pagan rituals, and a shop for spells and love potions.[6] The house is still referred to locally as "The Thaddeus House" and in local lore is widely believed to be haunted.

 

Location

The Thaddeus House is located outside the Greenwood Cemetery in an area that had served as a common grave for unsanctioned burials since the settlement of DeVille.[8] One historical account from the American Civil War references this plot of land. In 1863 a train carrying Confederate soldiers through the Union territory, destined for a prison in Chicago, stopped to unload the dead and dying. They were unceremoniously buried outside the cemetery on the plot of land where the Thaddeus home is built.[9] An account of the house's construction states, "so numerous were the fragments of human and animal bones in the soil, it had the appearance of black pepper.”  Rexford Thaddeus' own writing indicates he chose the site because he wanted a "sacred" location for his home, one "imbued with the eternal power of the dead."[6]

 

Rexford Thaddeus

Rexford Thaddeus was born in DeVille, Illinois on August 11, 1887. His father, Rexford Thaddeus Sr. was a chemist and entrepreneur, who in 1881 had built a formaldehyde manufacturing plant in the area. The pervasive use of the new and versatile chemical quickly built a family fortune. In 1904, a fire and explosion at the plant killed both his parents and injured Rexford, leading to the amputation of his right hand. Rexford, an only child, was devastated by the loss of his parents.[7] Despite the damage to the facility, the plant continued to operate, profit, and grow with Rexford as the sole owner. When he turned 18 the following year, he left the country in to study chemistry and medicine in England.

From 1905 to 1910, in addition to chemistry and medicine, Rexford’s studies exposed him to the psychosexual teachings of Sigmund Freud, and the spiritual philosophies of Aliester Crowley. He briefly became a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn where he was befriended by William Butler Yeats,[6] but he soon left the order and became a devotee of Crowley, whose teachings influenced him throughout his life.[6] Ornaments installed on the walls of several rooms of "The Thaddeus House" are a clear homage to Crowley and feature the unicursal hexagram he designed for the Thelema religion.[2] In England, he found his purpose and power in the fusion of the scientific, sexual, and spiritual.[7] He left England in the spring of 1911 and returned to the United States. He never received a degree.

 

Sex and Witchcraft

From 1911 to 1915 Rexford built a reputation as an unusual healer whose holistic approach to health, focusing primarily on the sexual and spiritual, yield “magical” results for those he treated and counseled.  In an attempt to regain a family, "a family that would never die",[7] he surrounded himself with young, often underage, pregnant women.  Despite his controlling nature and sexual appetite, with nowhere to turn and no men who would want them, these women are willing to follow and serve his every command.  The polygamist family structure of the home allowed the women a freedom they would not have had in the traditional marriages of the time.  He renamed each of them after flowers, and referred to them as his “flowers.”  The male children raised in the house become his “suns.” All the children and women in the house received a classical education, as well as his own sexual-spiritual education.  From child to adult, "the house was rife with sexual energy."[6]  Birth control was an important part of running his house as well as what he offered to his patients.  Also during this time, he developed a series of elixirs discretely marketed to increase sexual pleasure and fortitude. Most contained opiates or cocaine and alcohol.  His line of elixirs further increased his notoriety and already extensive wealth.  It is also during this time he earned the nominal distinction of “doctor,” likely due to the use of that title on his elixir bottles.

From 1915 to 1960 Rexford maintained his reputation and status. Having “treated” many of the people in the surrounding towns, many of them influential, he gained a certain leverage and security in the community.[6] Few wanted him to reveal the nature of their nighttime visits to his house.  Some of the women in the house became “nurses” in his sexual therapy sessions, though their therapies in many cases were akin to prostitution.  Others became chemists, writers, poets, and musicians.  Free to go as they wish, the formerly "discarded" women left "The Thaddeus House" as influential, protofeminist figures. Rexford's empowerment of women attracted a "seemingly endless supply" of women willing to be his “wives,” though he never marries.[1]  When the children in the house reached a certain age and spiritual development, they were required to leave. The boys were typically encouraged to leave earlier than the girls. With knowledge and education, and a "Magickal" belief in themselves,[6] most became highly successful as adults.  They held influential economic and political positions in the surrounding towns. Their positions in local society ensured "Dr. Thaddeus" an additional level of security for his unconventional beliefs and practice. 

The years from 1960 to 1967 saw the decline of Rexford's influence. As the world around him grew more extreme in its morality and beliefs, Rexford's teachings of personal freedom and the power of "Will" became mainstream. Before midnight on August 10th, 1967, the night before his 80th birthday, Rexford Thaddeus set himself on fire, committing suicide by self-immolation. While his followers believed it was a profound act of personal will,[2] more cynical commentators believed it was a final bid for attention in a world jaded by extremes.[1]     

After his death in 1967, the house and his wealth were left to his remaining "wives." From 1967 to 1980, while the house, staffed entirely by women, continued to serve as a home for young mothers, it was equally a place of business catering to mainstream public's growing fascination with the occult, magic, and paganism.[2] The women, most professing to be witches,[6] offered love potions, herbal medicines, fortunetelling and séances.  In the late 1970's, as the public's tastes changed, and for a variety of other reasons,[1] both the house's function as a shelter and a business became less viable. The house was put on the market in 1980.

 

The Love Nest

From 1982 to 1984, after 2 years of failed attempts to sell the house, it was purchased by Victor and Christine Mueller during the height of the bed and breakfast "craze."  Seeking to be competitive, they used the “sexy” history of the house to market it as “The Love Nest.”[1] Records indicate the business was profitable and growing in popularity.[2] Though marketed to couples seeking an intimate retreat with sexual history, the antique decor was "family friendly" and it's unique history attracted a wide variety of guests.

 

The Aftermath

The house was designated as a crime scene for nearly two years, from 1986 to1987. After its release, there was public pressure to raze the building. Debates over its status as a candidate for the National Register of Historic Places prevented this from happening[8], though no preservation society formally began the nomination process. In the fall of 1987, the house was purchased by a former occupant who had lived there as a child.

 

[edit] Memorials and Tributes

Other than occasional flowers and wreaths left at 600 Maple Street, no memorial was ever erected.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Marcus Samuels (1988). The Love Nest Murders. Wellington: GP Print. 
  2. ^ Murders at the Love Nest (December, 26, 1986).The DeVille News Gazette.
  3. ^ City of DeVille Public Records : trials : Victor Mueller.
  4. ^ http://www.thebarrister.org/the-trial-of-Victor-Mueller
  5. ^ Trial of the Love Nest Murders Begins (March, 15, 1987). The DeVille News Gazette.
  6. ^Rune, Frank (1959). Magickal Prophets. Bamford: Angus & Robertson. 
  7. ^ Dr. Thaddeus Revealed (April, 21, 1967) The DeVille Pantograph.

[edit] External links

  • Historical Illinois Crimes
  • Haunted
  • Houses in Illinois
  • The Love Nest Bed and Breakfast Murders
  • Dr. Rexford Thaddeus: The Thelemite From Illinois
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