The Notorious Walkup Family Tragedy

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The Notorious Walkup Family Tragedy

Flagstaff’s Walkup family murders is by far the most disturbing “stop” on our downtown haunted history tour. I set the word “stop” apart as we stay four to five blocks away from the old Walkup house. People live there and they really don’t want gawkers standing outside on the sidewalk. However, the distance doesn’t make the whole sordid story any less chilling.

This sad tale unfolded in the summer of 1937. Part of what made it so fascinating to me was how diverse and progressive Flagstaff was back then. Many people think Arizona was just a cowtown in the early 1900s–and parts of it were. But Flagstaff prided itself on hosting various cultural events, being home to several museums, and welcoming visitors to Lowell’s Observatory. It was in the middle of an active, event-packed July that the Walkup murders occurred, and the town ground to a stop, at least for a while.

I wrote a book, Flagstaff’s Walkup Family Murders, A Shocking 1937 Tragedy, in hopes of digging up more information than in the newspapers. I found a few new sources, but sadly, there aren’t many people left who can give first-hand accounts. The gist of the story is that Marie Walkup– mother of four children aged ten and under, wife of prominent man-about-town JD Walkup– took an ice pick to her children while they were asleep. She then drove north to the Flagstaff Country Club and golf course and shot herself. That’s the gist of it. Of course, it’s the story behind that one horrific night that is so fascinating, as well as the hauntings that persist to today. I wrote an all-new chapter about the freaky phenomena happening inside the house in my book, Haunted Flagstaff.Join us some night on one of our Freaky Foot Tours to hear the story behind the Walkup family murders.

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