15 Houses Where Murder Killed the Property Value
September 9, 2010
Homeowners are very protective of their property’s value. It’s not uncommon for residents to complain to neighbors about loud paint jobs or auto parts strewn about a front lawn, just two examples of the many ways in which a homeowner can ostensibly lower the value of their property and the properties surrounding them. But while these kinds of eye sores are easily perceived from the exterior of a home, the really terrible things that can affect a home’s value are often happening away from prying eyes. Here are 15 houses who had their value negatively affected by heinous acts committed on their property.
Nicole Brown Simpson’s Condo
It was the media sensation of 1994: ex-NFL superstar OJ Simpson was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman outside Brown’s Los Angeles condo. While Simpson’s high-speed getaway after failing to turn himself into the police seemed to point to his guilt early on in the trial, the shocking conclusion to the case eventually found Simpson notguilty of the two murders, which remain unsolved to this day. Despite Brown’s lavish condo’s location in a popular and affluent area of Los Angeles, the property remained unsold after two years on the market at an asking price of just under $800,000. Eventually, a deal was reached at a price of $590,000 — $200,000 less than the original asking price. The new tenants changed the condo’s address, and contracted an extensive remodel of the property.
The “In Cold Blood” Murder House
On November 15, 1959, Herb Clutter, his wife, and two of their children were found murdered in their home. The killers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, were motivated by false rumors that the Clutter family kept a safe loaded with money stashed somewhere in their home. After the gristly murders were committed, Hickock and Smith walked away from the scene of the crime with only $50 in cash. The murderers were eventually caught, convicted, and hanged in 1965. The events of that terrible night and the aftermath of the murders were chronicled in Truman Capote’s classic “In Cold Blood”. The home, originally built by Herb Clutter with his family in mind, went up for sale again in 2006. The property was appraised at $275,000, but the highest bid the current owner’s received was a paltry $100,000, which the owners rejected. It is speculated that the low bid might have been affected by rumors that the ghost of Nancy Clutter, Herb’s teenage daughter, can occasionally still be seen walking the halls of the home at night.
Michael Jackson’s “Death Mansion”
Though his ongoing financial woes had forced Michael Jackson to sell his lavish Southern California mansion to Hubert Guez, CEO of the obnoxious Ed Hardy “clothing line,” Guez was generous enough to let Jackson stay in the home while the singer was rehearsing his “This Is It” comeback tour. Unfortunately for Guez (though it’s hard to feel much pity for someone who has subjected society to shirts like this) Jackson, at the age of 50, overdosed on Propofol on June 25, 2009 while staying at the mansion. While the mansion — which sports 7 bedrooms, a 7 car garage and 13 toilets — was going for $40 million dollars before Jackson’s death, the fact that the singer died there has forced Guez to lower the asking price by nearly $10 million. While Jackson’s many fans have displayed interest, presumably to get a sneak peak at the home where the pop star spent his final days, the owners have requested that all interested parties go through an “extensive pre-qualifying check” in an effort to weed our the rubberneckers. As of yet, there are no reports of any ghost sightings.
The Heaven’s Gate Suicide Villa
In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed suicide by mixing vodka with barbiturates. The cult’s hope was that by killing themselves, they would ascend to a spaceship that was riding the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet that was passing through our solar system. Hale-Bop sounds like MMM BOP and that plan is both literally and figuratively out of this world. While it remains unknown whether or not the goal was reached, the Heaven’s Gate members did accomplish at least one thing: they managed to significantly lower the property value of the Rancho Santa Fe villa where they killed themselves. The 9,000 square-foot villa featured a swimming pool, private tennis courts, and had an estimated value of $1.6 million dollars. Post-mass suicide, Washington Mutual took over the property through foreclosure and managed to sell the property for a paltry $668,000 dollars, less than half the villa’s estimated value. Post-sale, the villa was demolished, probably because nobody would ever want to reside in a freaky mass-suicide villa previously inhabited by comet fetishists.
DJ AM’s New York Overdose Apartment
DJ AM was probably more famous for his high profile relationships with celebrities like Mandy Moore and Nicole Richie than for any prowess on the wheels of steel. He was found dead on August 28, 2009 in his Manhattan apartment with an un-swallowed OxyContin pill still in his mouth, drugs the cause of his om-nom-death. Coroners later determined that a combination of cocaine, Oxycodone, Vicodin, Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, Benadryl and Levamisole led to AM’s fatal overdose. Though he bought the apartment in 2007 for $1.995 million dollars, the initial asking price for the property is only $1.795 million. Judging by his other home, a four bedroom, 3,375 square-foot house in Beverly Hills, the asking price will probably come down even further; the Beverly Hills property (which he wasn’t even found dead in) has already had to lower its initial asking price by $300,000. The apartment’s broker, Jared Seligman, describes it as a “stunning corner unit located at 210 Lafayette in the Soho/Nolita area, filled with sunlight and open city views,” failing to mention that in addition to sunlight it was also once filled with the decaying corpse of an overdose victim.
The House Where JonBenét Ramsey Was Murdered
On December 26, 1996, JonBenét Ramsey was discovered missing after her mother Patsy Ramsey found a two-page ransom note on the kitchen staircase. After calling the police, an investigation eventually located JonBenét’s body in the family’s basement, covered in a white sheet with a nylon chord tied around her neck and duct tape over her mouth. Initially the main suspects were the Ramsey family, including JonBenét’s nine year-old brother Burke. However, the family was exonerated of the charges, but JonBenét’s killer has never been found — just like OJ’s case. After the murder and subsequent trial, the Ramsey family moved to Arizona, putting their Boulder, CO home up for sale. 10 years later, the house was up for sale again, and although it was estimated to be worth several million dollars, the asking price was only $1.7 million. All four previous owners were forced to sell the home at below market value. The property is “stigmatized. It’s always been stigmatized,” according to Joel Ripmaster, president of Colorado Landmark Realtors, which has had a detrimental affect on its value since JonBenét’s murder. The Ripmaster’s unfortunate last name probably doesn’t help either, but would have been totally badass for an executioner or vigilante crimefighter.
The Menendez Family’s Beverly Hills Murder Home
On August 20, 1989, Lyle and Erik Menendez brutally murdered their parents. They shot their father point blank in the back of the head with a shotgun, and their mother in the back as she tried to flee. The brothers then disposed of the shotguns, saw a screening of “Batman” as an alibi, then returned home and called the police. Initially, the two brothers were not suspects in the investigation. They managed to arouse suspicion with their conspicuous actions, such as lavishing money on exotic trips, expensive cars and tennis lessons — spending close to $1 million dollars during their first six months as orphans. Eventually, Erik confessed to his therapist that he and his brother had committed the murders, and the two brothers were tried and sentenced to life in jail. The 9,000 square-foot mansion that belonged to their parents was listed as being worth just under $4 million dollars, but eventually sold for only $3.7 million. In a morbid development which may be creepier than the murders themselves, the mansion later became the home of William Link, whose interest in the home stemmed from his job as a writer of murder mysteries.
The “Amityville Horror” House
In December 1975, George and Kathleen Lutz, along with their three children, purchased a Dutch colonial home in Amityville, NY. What the Lutz’s didn’t know about their great bargain-house was that Ronald DeFeo Jr. had shot and killed six members of his family there only thirteen months prior.
The Lutz family fled the home only 28 days after moving in, claiming to have been terrorized by paranormal phenomena. The events sparked a media frenzy and were chronicled in the book “The Amityville Horror” and popular movie of the same name. Although there is now much speculation surrounding the truthfulness of these events (and little facts such as the family turning away paranormal investigators doesn’t really help their case), the home has transfered ownership several times. Each time, the property has been sold for much less than its estimated value due to its stigmatized past. In 1997, the house was sold to a man identified as Brian Wilson for only $310,000, much less than the estimated value of $1.5 million. Still, now that the current owner is hoping to sell, real-estate agents are confident that they can finally get the full asking price for the home — especially since years of renovations and restorations have been performed to maintain the historic property.
Serial Killer Joel Rifkin’s New York Home
Joel Rifkin murdered an estimated 17 prostitutes from 1989-1993. He would often take his victims back to his home in East Meadow, NY, where he lived with his sister and elderly mother, though he also had a penchant for killing them in his car. In June 1993, Rifkin was driving on the Southern State Parkway when officers spotted his pickup truck, which was sans-license plates. When they attempted to pull Rifkin over, a high-speed chase ensued. It ended in Mineola, when Rifkin crashed his car into a utility pole. The arresting officers detected an odor emanating from the back of the truck, where they discovered the corpse of 22 year old Tiffany Bresciani. Rifkin was eventually convicted of murdering 9 women and sentence to 203 years in jail. In May 2010, the home went on sale after the death of Rifkin’s mother, with an asking price of $424,500. Still unsold, a fact which must be at least somewhat related to the corpse that was found in the garage, the property is now going for $379,000, and is described as an “excellent handy-man special.” Perhaps they should add a, “perfect for storing dead hookers” description to the listing as well.
Nicolas Cage Loses Money on his Haunted New Orleans Property
Who knows why Nicolas Cage does anything he does? The quirky actor has a long history of erratic behavior, so is it any surprise that Cage appears to have a habit of purchasing houses with supernatural pasts? Last year, when Cage revealed he was in desperate financial straits, he attempted to unload a series of properties he had acquired over the years. His New Orleans house was particularly hard to move on. The alleged reason is that the home is unsellable due to its haunted past as the site of over a hundred gristly murders. The property is considered by locals to be the most haunted house in New Orleans. Although the house was appraised at $3.5 million, the bank foreclosed on it for $2.3 million, hitting Cage for a loss of $1.3 million, or roughly one tenth of the salary he will earn in the next piece of crap he stars in.
Andrew Kissel’s Greenwich, CT Estate
Andrew Kissel was a real estate developer who was accused of defrauding a New York co-op board of millions of dollars. While he and his wife were in the process of moving from their Greewich, CT estate because of failure to pay rent, Kissel was found dead by a moving crew in the basement. His hands and feet were bound; Kissel had been stabbed to death. His chauffeur and his chauffeur’s cousin, Carlos and Leonard Trujillo, were charged with the murder in 2008. The owner of the property subsequently tried to sell the 2.1 acres for $5.2 million, but the house sat on the market for an entire year without any buyers. Out of desperation, the owner razed the building and replaced it with a mansion, attempting to sell the new home for $10.7 million in September 2007. This didn’t sway any potential buyers, as the home remained for sale even after a price cut of 2.3 million dollars.
Indianapolis’ Worst Mass Murder Site Demolished
Desmond Turner and his accomplice James Stewart entered into the residence of the Valdez family in Indianapolis looking for drugs and money in June 2006. The only thing they stumbled upon was a family of seven, which, to them, was better than nothing. They slaughtered everyone: a husband and wife, three sons, a daughter and a grandson. Both executors were convicted; Turner was sentenced to life in prison and Stewart given 400 years in jail. Rather than even attempt to rehabilitate the site, city officials thought it was best to demolish the house entirely. Even with the house gone, neighbors are unable to erase the memory of the events that transpired that summer. “It’s not going to change the fact that I don’t remember what happened there. I mean, I’ve got that picture in my mind, it’s there, it’s not going to go away,” said neighbor Frank Dodson. “No matter if the house is there or not.”
Robert Wone’s Washington, D.C.’s Home
“LUXURY AT ITS BEST. 4BR 3.5BA TOWN HOME ON PRETTY SWANN ST IN VIBRANT DUPONT. ORIGINALLY BUILT IN 1886 THIS PROPERTY HAS BEEN BEAUTIFULLY RENOVATED WITH TOP-OF-THE-LINE AMENITIES THROUGHOUT. FROM THE ROOF DECK WITH CITY VIEWS TO THE NEW LOWER LEVEL IN-LAW SUITE WITH SEP ENTRANCE. NO DETAIL HAS BEEN OVERLOOKED IN FIVE FLRS OF ELEGANT LIVING. PLUS PATIO AND GATED PARKING FOR TWO CARS.”
No detail — except for the fact that Robert Wone, 32, was stabbed outside of the property in a murder than remains unsolved and inexplicable. Though the place is valued at a maximum of $1.41 million, the current asking price is $1,268,000 because, you know, murders apparently have a detrimental effect on properties.
The Sharon Tate murder House
4,600 square-feet, a scenic overlook of Benedict Canyon, and the climate of Los Angeles: what’s not to like? Maybe the small inconvenience of a murderous rampage executed by non other than the infamous Manson family and claiming six victims. Sharon Tate, her four friends, and her unborn baby were brutalized and killed in one of the most chilling and horrific crimes to date. Tate’s husband at the time, Roman Polanski, offered $1.5 million to simply bulldoze the property in an effort to erase the tragedy of the murder. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails acted too quickly for that to ever happen; he bought the property and converted part of it into a recording studio, reportedly and distastefully calling it “Pig,” a reference to the blood smeared message left on the walls of the estate when the murder occurred. Polanski eventually got his way, and the site was subsequently bulldozed and sold for nearly a $400,000 loss.
Connecticut Loves Haunted Houses
Though the sale was for an undisclosed amount, it’s hard to imagine a property with such a storied history going for “market value.” This Southington, Connecticut home was rumored to be a mortuary before it was converted into a residence. The owners, the Snedeker family, who lived there for two years with “paranormal disturbances”, described their experience as such:
“They were incredibly powerful. One of the demons was very thin, with high cheekbones, long black hair and pitch black eyes. Another had white hair and eyes, wore a pinstriped tuxedo, and his feet were constantly in motion.” It sounds more like a fratty Halloween party than a haunting. The Snedeker family eventually sold the property, and the current owners have been forced to remove the street number from the house and post a “No Trespassers” sign to ward off unwanted ghost hunters from the property.