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Thread: Murder Homes

  1. #1
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    Murder Homes


    The Tampa Palms house where two Schenecker children were slain sold for $385,000, just over its estimate on Zillow.com.

    TAMPA — Tampa Palms Beauty! the ad said. Move-in ready. NOT a short-sale.

    Can close quickly.


    But the house at 16305 Royal Park Court, behind the gates of Ashington Reserve, had a sad history told only in crime stories:

    A year ago this month, two children died there. Police charged their mother, Julie Schenecker, with murder.

    The house was cordoned off and photographed for evidence.

    Then quietly, last fall, it sold for $385,000, just over its estimate on real-estate site Zillow.com.

    Some landmarks of tragedy do not change hands so easily. Real estate agents consider them stigmatized.

    The homes draw unease and superstition. Long after police have left and families have gathered personal effects, strangers remember.


    A renter didn’t know until recently that this Seminole Heights house was where Steven Lorenzo tortured nine men. In Florida, buyers and renters don’t have to be told up-front of a stigma.

    The problem is not as rare as one might think. In 2010 alone, according to the FBI, 14,748 people were murdered in America. A year earlier, 15,241. A year before that, 16,272.

    A man in California makes a living consulting on stigmatized sites — from those of lesser known deaths to some of the country's most notorious. Randall Bell is known for his specialty in damage economics. They call him Dr. Disaster.

    Bell has calculated that a public, traumatic event like a murder can take 10 percent to 25 percent off a home's value. But not always. The Schenecker house, which sold for $63,000 less than its 2008 purchase price, seemed no more affected than any Florida property in a down market.

    Urban homes suffer less, Bell says, the bustle of city life diluting the trauma; rural homes are hit hardest, because memories linger in quiet places.

    To help with the damage, he typically suggests "mitigations."

    The O.J. Simpson condo got a new facade.

    The JonBenet Ramsey house got a remodeled basement and an address change.

    The mansion where 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide met a much more drastic fate.

    Bell had the opportunity to buy it, he said. Cheap. His wife looked at him as if he was out of his mind. "She just thought it had too much baggage," he said.

    So, apparently, did the owners. The mansion eventually came down. Every blade of grass was ripped out of the ground.

    Sometimes, people call Bell for help, saying they didn't know a house had a history until after they bought it. One family in New Jersey said neighborhood kids refused to come inside for a birthday party.

    Those situations end up in court, Bell said. "My number one rule is to always be up-front and honest. Don't try to conceal things, because that tends to amplify problems."

    Laws vary from state to state about whether real estate agents are required to disclose a murder on a property. In Florida, they must do so only if directly asked.

    The question didn't exactly cross 28-year-old Chris Galbraith's mind when he decided to rent the charming Seminole Heights bungalow at 213 W Powhatan Ave. He learned of its history when a Tampa Bay Times reporter showed up last week with a news article calling it a "torture scene."

    Steven Lorenzo drugged and tortured nine men at that home. At trial, federal prosecutors said two men were killed there. The "torture room" was toward the back. Investigators removed floorboards, where they found a victim's DNA.

    Galbraith wasn't happy about the revelation. "Just put yourself in the situation," he said. "You go in the back garage, it doesn't have a floor in it.

    "Well, now I know why … "

    "There's no question about it. We would've kept looking."

    The woman who owns the house did not return a message left by the Times, and the leasing agent declined to comment.

    Others, too, shy away from the subject, including the families who bought the Carrollwood cul-de-sac house where Valessa Robinson and her boyfriend murdered her mother in 1998.

    Parker Schenecker, who has a pending wrongful-death suit against the mother of his children and is monitoring her death penalty case, wasn't interested in discussing his home sale. The buyers, Anthony and Christine Betts, did not answer messages left by the Times. The sales agent, too, was uneager to talk.

    Not surprising, Bell said.

    "It can be a very touchy topic."


    The families who bought the Carrollwood house where Valessa Robinson and her boyfriend murdered her mother in 1998 shy away from the subject.

    They're just buildings, right? Cement, and brick, and tile?

    Or are they vessels of sadness?

    Maribet Balestena is certified to practice feng shui, the art of the physical and the unseen. She believes energy flows like water and wind, but bad energy gets stuck. Being in a negatively charged space can make one feel uneasy, or depressed, or even sick, she said.

    "Every house has some energetic footprint," she said. "We impregnate these houses. These spaces in which we live absorb our energy, and the spaces affect our energy as well. When all these awful things happen, the energy becomes accumulated in there. All that negativity … It's necessary, then, to make a shift."

    For a $270 fee, Balestena performs three-to-four-hour cleansings, which incorporate forms of prayer and remedies like incense, music and the intentional placement of objects to facilitate flow. She customizes the ceremony for the family and concludes with a lengthy report, with suggestions to foster peace and harmony in the home.

    She has been consulted for a cleansing at the scene of two suicides.

    Dr. Disaster's thoughts?

    "Whatever people are into," he said. "If that provides peace of mind, they should do it. Some people aren't bothered, and that's fine, too."

    In 2003, the Guardian tracked down an owner of a London building in the heart of Jack the Ripper's onetime haunt. Ron Harley said he knew about the woman poisoned with nitric acid on the second floor of 16 Batty St. He said that one of his friends claimed to get a funny feeling about the place, and that in the winter, the old walls creaked. "But," he added, "it is just wood."

    • • •

    Sometimes, a house's very existence must be extinguished.

    That was the case for the Homosassa mobile home once occupied by child murderer John Couey, where he raped 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford and held her for three days, according to his confession.

    Nine days before what would have been the four-year anniversary of the abduction, the trailer was burned to the ground.

    Citrus County fire officials labeled the blaze "suspicious."

    Also destroyed was the house where two St. Petersburg police officers were killed last year, and where shooter Hydra Lacy Jr. was found dead. Police began tearing holes into the house hours after he barricaded himself in the attic. After Lacy's body was removed, Mayor Bill Foster ordered the demolition.

    Apart from what Foster called a "health-safety issue," the mayor gave this justification:

    "I didn't want my community to have this constant reminder of extreme loss."

    Across the bay, another reminder lasted only half a month.

    Sheriff David Gee called it one of the most horrifying crime scenes they'd ever encountered — a woman, her two children and the family dog, mutilated in the mobile home at 1918 Mobile Villa Drive S in Lutz. Live-in boyfriend Edward Covington was charged.

    Neighbor Tim Kelly heard a scream the morning of May 12, 2008. He rushed to the home. The woman's mother had discovered the scene.

    Two weeks later, Kelly heard the commotion of machinery outside. He saw the giant, metal claw. "They took everything," he said. Neighbors lined the street, watching. Kelly stood among them.

    "I was happy to see it gone."

    It was the choice the victim's mother had made with her husband after losing Lisa, 26, Zachary, 7, and Heather Savannah, 2. Barbara Freiberg could not return to see it come down. She stays away today. "I know exactly where it happened," she said.

    One day, she said, she will sell the land. Until then, her husband mows the lawn. And she waits for the market to improve.

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/humanin...oblems/1209699

  2. #2
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    When a home has a gruesome history

    Sellers have no obligation to divulge non-material details





    JAMES CITY, VIRGINIA — A house where a woman was beaten to death is on the market, but according to state law the sellers have no obligation to tell potential purchasers about the home's history.

    Dana Patterson Mackay, 42, was found dead in her home on Teal Way last July. Her husband, Army Staff Sgt. John Wayne Mackay, 42, was charged in the murder, as was his mistress, Nicole Michelle Houchin, 35, and her husband, Nace Houchin.

    Linda Kinsman, executive director of the Williamsburg Area Association of Realtors, said real estate agents have a code of ethics that requires them to disclose "pertinent, material facts" about property. However, the state code makes it clear that a murder occurring on the property is not relevant to the sale.

    Virginia Code § 55-524 specifically says there is no penalty for a seller who does not disclose that a previous owner had HIV or that "a homicide, felony or suicide" occurred on the property.

    "Generally speaking, real estate agents/brokers (who may or may not be members of the Realtor trade association) are required by statute and regulation to 'disclose to prospective buyers all material adverse facts pertaining to the physical condition of the property which are actually known by the licensee.'" That's according to Christine Martine, executive director of the state's Real Estate Board.

    The statute goes so far as to clearly state that past homicides are not such facts.

    Typically sellers sign a number of disclaimer documents that, for instance, say that to the best of their knowledge the home has no Chinese drywall or lead paint. Those are physical defects a seller is required to disclose if he or she knows of them.

    "But the buyer should still do their due diligence," Martine said.

    Kinsman said there is one scenario in which a real estate agent might have an ethical obligation to inform a client.

    "Agency law comes into play," she said. "An agent representing the buyer has an obligation to give his or her clients information about the property that they know."

    Numerous state court cases — almost all real estate law is state law — have found that the issue of prior crimes committed on the property is one of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). The most recent, by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in December 2012, found that a murder/suicide cannot be considered a defect legally, which would require notification.

    A few states do require notification. In California, a homicide or suicide must be disclosed if it occurred within three years of the sale.

    According to James City County property records, the Seasons Trace house was purchased by the Mackays in 2012 for $165,000. It's now owned by Dana Mackay's family, who live in Georgia. It's currently assessed at just over $250,000.

    http://www.vagazette.com/news/va-vg-...0,222830.story
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  3. #3
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    Missouri Serial Killer's Home Unnerves New Resident Who Didn't Know of Torture Chamber


    This Ferguson, Mo., home once belonged to suspected serial killer Maury Travis but the current resident says she did not know about its dark history before moving in.


    A Missouri woman has finally been able to break her rental lease after learning that her home was used as a torture chamber by a suspected serial killer over a decade ago.

    Maury Travis hanged himself while he was being held in jail in 2002 but police now believe that he killed between 12 and 20 women, many of whom died in the basement of his Ferguson, Missouri, home.

    Catrina McGhaw had no idea about the home's sinister past, however, when she signed a lease in March, she told St. Louis station KMOV-TV.

    She says her landlord - Sandra Travis, the suspected killer's mother – made no mention of the case or the bodies that her son allegedly kept in the basement before he was arrested in 2002.

    It was only when a friend called her and told her to watch a documentary on serial killers that she realized that the home was connected to Travis' case, McGhaw told KMOV.

    McGhaw says she asked Travis' mother to get out of the lease but Travis told her that she had mentioned the lurid backstory before McGhaw signed the lease.

    Cheryl Lovell, the executive director of the St Louis Housing Authority, confirmed to ABC News that they helped negotiate the end of the lease.

    "Initially, the landlord was not willing to let her break her lease but we talked with her and eventually the landlord agreed to rescind the lease," Lovell said. "In this state, there is no duty to disclose. Other states there are, but mostly that is for selling houses."

    ABC News has been unable to reach Travis and McGhaw for comment.

    Maury Travis, a 36-year-old hotel waiter, was never charged in any of the slayings that reportedly took place in his home but police found him after he wrote a letter to a local newspaper boasting about his 17 victims and sharing a map of where one of the bodies was buried.

    Police were able to trace the map, which he made using a Web program, to his computer.

    He was charged with two counts of kidnapping, which could have led to the death penalty, but he killed himself in his cell less than a month after being arrested.

    When police searched his home, they said they found makeshift cells in his basement and videos of his tormenting the women before tying them up to a wooden beam in the basement that still stands to this day.

    In another scene of the graphic video, which was shared with ABC’s “Primetime” around the time of the case, Travis is allegedly shown wrapping a belt around one victim's neck and snapping it before she went limp.

    "This is first kill. Number One. First kill was 19 years old. Name — I don't know. I don't give a f***," he said in the video.


    PHOTO: Travis reportedly strapped the women to a beam in the basement that still stands today.

    Infamous homes carry the stigma of the crimes that they played host to, but for some buyers it also leads to a lower price tag.

    Some real estate agents decide to tell their clients about any questionable history, but many states have no legal requirements to disclose any deaths that took place on the property.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/missouri-se...4467447&page=2
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  4. #4
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    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  5. #5
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    You would think his mother would sell that house. Better to burn it down.
    Proverbs 21:15 "When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evil doers."

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by elsie View Post
    You would think his mother would sell that house. Better to burn it down.
    Right... I would never live in a home where someone had been murdered, and I would want to know if someone had died there as well.
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  7. #7
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    The Fred and Rosemary West murder house was demolished, as was the Mick Philpott arson home, too notorious for anyone to live there.

    I had a go at street viewing some scenes of notorious murders, some of them have been drastically redeveloped such that you wouldn't know what had happened there. I bet it's quite common to do so.
    Last edited by Richard86; 07-08-2014 at 05:19 PM.

  8. #8
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    So, do tell of your viewing of murder homes.
    Proverbs 21:15 "When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evil doers."

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    Well, it's nothing special really, just find some court documents or good newspaper reports which accurately describe where the crime took place and onto google streetview to find them.

    I found this which is quite interesting as well: http://www.waymarking.com/cat/detail...e33&gid=3&st=2, you can't browse like you can on streetview, but it's good photos of lots of places where notorious murderers happened.
    Last edited by Richard86; 07-09-2014 at 04:30 PM.

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