Homes that hide their murderous past

JazzdameSeptember 5, 2013

23 Washington Terrace , St. Louis, Missouri. Is for sale again. Home to a brutal murder of a mother and her four year old child...no matter how many coats of paint are applied, the feeling of this families brutal murder haunts it's presence. But since the law does not require this disclosed...it changes hands. Over and over again. It had taken nineteen years for local resident Tommy Lynn Sells to be found out. Nineteen long years of not knowing. The Gills themselves barely lived there three months when the murder occurred. Although Tommy Lynn Sells known as the coast to coast killer now sits on death row in Texas... It was here as a young teenager that he first began honing his skills. Imagine buying a home costing almost two million dollars and THEN finding out.

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graywings123

Welcome to Gardenweb, Jazzdame. Maybe this wouldn't be the right house for you, but it wouldn't bother me.

And the house is not "murderous," which means capable of or intending to murder. Something bad may have happened there, but the house didn't do it.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:25AM
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lazy_gardens

And so what if "the law" does not require disclosure of deaths in the house. The house didn't do it. The only crime I would worry about would be a meth lab, because of the contamination issue.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 12:21PM
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GreenDesigns

Too much Ghosthunters?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 2:00PM
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rwiegand

Trying to drive the price down so you can make a lowball bid? If the house had pieces falling off of it and killing people I might worry about it, but why blame a building for something that happened there a long time ago? There really isn't anything to disclose, which is why no disclosure is required.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 2:11PM
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LuAnn_in_PA

Odd thing to join a forum for...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 2:35PM
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galore2112

Why not expand the radius of fear and include the whole planet?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 3:00PM
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Fori is not pleased

Confusing plurals, possessives, and contractions in just about every way makes for a tough read.

Isn't that place big enough one could just close off the offending room and get by with the others? :P

I think I was once supposed to disclose if someone died in my house but I don't remember where that was.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 4:16PM
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cmarlin20

In CA, a death only need be reported if it was less than three years ago.
A death wouldn't bother me, I've looked at houses where a murder occurred, didn't bother me.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 4:45PM
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sylviatexas1

Here, you have to disclose any death other than natural (old age, heart attack, etc) or suicide.

There's a question on the disclosure that asks something to the effect of "is seller aware of anything that might affect a buyer's decision to buy the house?"

not whether the house was at fault or haunted, just something that might make a difference to a buyer.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 4:46PM
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dekeoboe

Huge house - 10,752 SqFt
But takes up a lot of the 19,036 SqFt lot

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 6:06PM
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Fori is not pleased

It's got potential!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:42PM
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frozenelves

I would want to know that happened.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 12:11AM
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ncrealestateguy

"is seller aware of anything that might affect a buyer's decision to buy the house?"

What a vague and odd question to ask. How is the seller supposed to know what may or may not affect a buyer's decision to purchase the home?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 7:26AM
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kashka_kat

Well MY house is capable of murder - it's killing me even as we speak! Death by 1,000 aggravations - if you dont hear from me, that's what happened!

Most old houses of a certain age have had deaths in them, as people used to die at home more and not in hospitals. An ordinary death wouldnt bother me. I would not want a house where a murder occurred though. I wouldnt want my house to be featured in the local legends and stories that people tell. I want my house to be a place of peace and refuge from the world - to be wondering what happened where in the house would ruin my sense of peace and security. But hey, Im sensitive - when certain notorious grisy murders have been in the news Ive sometimes become so physically nauseous Ive had to turn off the radio or tv.

You folks who wouldnt be bothered - if disclosure is required (as it should be) you can still make whatever choice you want, no one's stopping you. Might get a good deal on it.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 8:35AM
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debrak2008

I knew a women whose husband killed her in the master bedroom and then killed himself in the basement. Her grown daughter cleaned up the mess and moved in. Why? It was a nice house and her mother had loved the house. I'm not sure I could have done that but understand why she kept the house.

I do think some houses, like the one recently torn down in cleveland, should be torn down.

Here is another situation. What is your car hits and kills someone? Recently we had a drunk doctor hit and kill a pedestrian. He actually wiped her brain matter of his bumper. LONG story but he only got a year in prison but his car was fixed and for sale at a local lot (BMW). Word got out and the dealership had to send the car out of state.

Another recent case, investigation still pending but looks like a kid on a bike went into the road in front of a car, was hit and killed. Car is fine. Would you drive that car again?

This post was edited by debrak2008 on Fri, Sep 6, 13 at 11:22

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 11:11AM
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chicagoans

"is seller aware of anything that might affect a buyer's decision to buy the house?"

I'm with you NC - vague and rather odd, and could encompass just about anything.

I recently sold a car to CarMax (they gave me $2k more than the dealership where I bought a new car.) They have a standard form with the same kind of question: "Can you think of any reason why someone wouldn't want to buy this car?" And I'm thinking yeah, if they don't want red, or Lincoln, or an SUV, or... whatever. Could be a hundred reasons. I figure it's some catch-all CYA clause put in by the legal team.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 5:22PM
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ncrealestateguy

I would advise my clients to check the "No Representation" box on that question.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 7:15PM
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new-beginning

my grandfather built a new home for his bride 100 yrs ago; then in the depression days they rented out part of the house to two guys that turned out to be criminals. My grandfather recognised them soon after, and notified the authorities. Both guys were killed by the lawmen at the house. My grandparents continued living in the house until they could no longer live alone. My mother sold that house in the 60's and that buyer still lives there - apparently didn't bother her.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 10:55PM
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lafdr

I was visiting a friend at her new to her house. I happened to be looking at the living room ceiling and noticed an obviously repaired large area about 4x4 feet. I asked if the house had a leak. The friend said, "Oh that..........well, the previous owner shot himself in the living room in his recliner, and that was where they had to repair the ceiling and clean up the mess."

The friend was a realtor, and she was not bothered in the sense of feeling the house itself had bad energy. She chose it because it was a deal compared to others in the area since it did have the stigma of the previous owner's suicide.

I agree with the poster who mentioned most people used to die at home. So many houses would be uninhabitable if death was a criteria against selling. The circumstances do matter, and I would want to know if there had been a murder or something that could pose a danger to a new owner such as someone coming back for revenge or a repeat.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 6:04PM
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lafdr

I couldn't resist looking up the referenced house. Beautiful house and neighborhood!

http://www.trulia.com/property/1060740679-23-Washington-Ter-Saint-Louis-MO-63112

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 6:29PM
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sylviatexas1

When disclosures first became mandatory (yes, I have indeed been doing this for at least 100 years), I went to a class about disclosure.

To the very specific questions that the Realtors asked, the instructor advised, "When in doubt, or even when not in doubt, *disclose*."

Maybe the 'anything that would affect a buyer's decision' was put in there to provide the seller with a line in which to describe things that aren't required but that might affect a buyer.

Kashka, for instance, wouldn't want to live in a 'notorious' house that would draw gawkers.

(I wouldn't either.)

If I were the sellers' agent, I'd urge them to disclose;
buyers may not mind, but if they freak out, better sooner than later.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 3:28PM
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krycek1984

Yuck, I sure wouldn't want to live in that house!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 4:13PM
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sylviatexas1

'my grandfather built a new home for his bride 100 yrs ago; then in the depression days they rented out part of the house to two guys that turned out to be criminals. My grandfather recognised them soon after, and notified the authorities. Both guys were killed by the lawmen at the house'

There's a funny thing that goes on:
Something like this might actually increase the attractiveness of the house to certain buyers.

If it had happened more recently, there might be a 'ooh, ick, creepy" factor, but people are fascinated by history.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 3:17PM
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bowyer123

I went to school with Erik and Lyle Menendez. They were both convicted of murdering their parent in their Beverly Hills mansion.

When I lived in Santa Monica I drove by the house where they shot their parents out of pure curiosity. That was about as a gruesome murder as you can imagine, and I highly doubt any buyer would be unaware of the past history involved there. It subsequently hassold a few times since the murders.

This post was edited by bowyer123 on Sat, Sep 14, 13 at 1:19

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 12:20AM
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Jazzdame

Someone dying naturally in a house wouldn't faze me, in fact where I live now it had happened. This was a brutal murder carried about by a budding serial killer who went on to do many more horrendous killings over 19 years before being caught. You can read his legacy by looking up. Tommy Lynn Sells. One reason these houses do turn over is because buyers find out after the purchase, it's the hot potato you may get stuck with. The mother Colleen Gill, was 33 and was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in the kitchen, her daughter Tiffany , age 4, tried to escape and she too was bludgeoned to death close to the front door. Colleen was only there for about three months, had even brought in two guns feeling she was being watched. Her husbandTom Gill had been unfortunAtely the main suspect for a long time, he had found them. I feel people have the right to know about murders in a house, could you imagine moving into a home and every time you see the kitchen the brutality flashes back.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 6:09PM
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Jazzdame

Someone dying naturally in a house wouldn't faze me, in fact where I live now it had happened. This was a brutal murder carried about by a budding serial killer who went on to do many more horrendous killings over 19 years before being caught. You can read his legacy by looking up. Tommy Lynn Sells. One reason these houses do turn over is because buyers find out after the purchase, it's the hot potato you may get stuck with. The mother Colleen Gill, was 33 and was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in the kitchen, her daughter Tiffany , age 4, tried to escape and she too was bludgeoned to death close to the front door. Colleen was only there for about three months, had even brought in two guns feeling she was being watched. Her husbandTom Gill had been unfortunAtely the main suspect for a long time, he had found them. I feel people have the right to know about murders in a house, could you imagine moving into a home and every time you see the kitchen the brutality flashes back.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 6:11PM
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Jazzdame

Someone dying naturally in a house wouldn't faze me, in fact where I live now it had happened. This was a brutal murder carried about by a budding serial killer who went on to do many more horrendous killings over 19 years before being caught. You can read his legacy by looking up. Tommy Lynn Sells. One reason these houses do turn over is because buyers find out after the purchase, it's the hot potato you may get stuck with. The mother Colleen Gill, was 33 and was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in the kitchen, her daughter Tiffany , age 4, tried to escape and she too was bludgeoned to death close to the front door. Colleen was only there for about three months, had even brought in two guns feeling she was being watched. Her husbandTom Gill had been unfortunAtely the main suspect for a long time, he had found them. I feel people have the right to know about murders in a house, could you imagine moving into a home and every time you see the kitchen the brutality flashes back.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 6:13PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I don't think it's required in our area, but you can write anything into a contract. When I sold mothers condo, there was a clause in the contract about death and violent crime in the place. I said, mother didn't die there and neither did the previous owner. But beyond that, I had no idea.

I certainly wasn't going to research it for the new owner.

But how many of us have stayed in hospitals, and how many beds there haven't had somebody die in them...very few, I would think.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 10:55PM
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debrak2008

When you say the "brutality flashes back" you are assuming that everyone will feel that way. Many do not. I posted a story above. In that case the daughter did not have the brutality flashing back to her. In the case you mention what do you think should be done with the house?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 11:20AM
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beasty

Have you seen this slideshow from CurbedNY?

Here is a link that might be useful: Olden Crimes

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 4:27PM
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debrak2008

beasty, that is cool. Now in those cases I bet no one minds the history.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 7:58PM
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live_wire_oak

It's very simple. It obviously bothers you, so you shouldn't buy the house. Now, why you're trying to make it where others wouldn't buy the house, I'd have to question. What's not being said here? What benefit do you derive from the house not selling?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 10:42AM
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kashka_kat

Live well thats kinda the point- inform consumer so they can make informed choice. That is all. Nothing else being said.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 10:27PM
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ILoveRed

I just lurk on this forum. But, I was so surprised to see this thread. A family was horribly murdered in the area where I grew up and the crime wasn't solved for many years. It was this man. Pure evil.

I would not want to live in a house where he committed one of his murders. I would at least want the choice.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 5:36PM
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doodledog_gw

In my area, it must be disclosed as "a known hidden defect". There's an upscale home languishing on the market - listed at 60% of its value. Great bargain if you're not bothered by the horrific triple murder that occurred there a few years ago.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 6:38PM
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debrak2008

A smart contractor could buy up one of these crime scenes for a song and then rework them and hopefully make a profit. I'm thinking rework the rooms so no one can say "here is the spot..." With a little reworking, some new interior decor, some new curb appeal (changing it a little) it may work. Like if the house has shutters, take them down, paint it a new color, change the landscaping etc. Of course the contractor would have to get a really good deal on it in the first place to come out ahead.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 7:11PM
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sushipup1

This murderer's house is now on tours.

The detective who investigates the serial murders notes""I love this house. It's happy," Cabrera said of the changes. "This veil of darkness has been lifted."

Here is a link that might be useful: Killer home on tour

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 7:41PM
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Jazzdame

I can really tell which posts are realtors. The home is huge and the inside beautiful, though the outside I find kind of creepy. I think we all agree that some would not be bothered by a mother and child being murdered in the house they will dwell in. But if that's the case then why not just be honest about it? A house this huge would be eerie in itself without even knowing it's secrets. I feel homes have energies, natural death does not cause bad energy...this house has turned over many times. How many bought this home knowing of it's history? I could never cook in that kit hen, or use the door in the kitchen to go downstairs, for this is where Tommy Lynn Sells first attacked the mother. But things like that bother me, maybe someone will get it for a good price and live there indefinitely, great. But at least tell the truth about it

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 6:34PM
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krycek1984

I don't have a problem with living in a house that someone died in. Everyone dies, and in old homes, it would not be at all unexpected to learn someone died in the home.

I draw the line at violent murders. If there was a violent murder at the house I'd want to know about it. I would not want to live there. There are such things as ghosts you know.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 8:23PM
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krycek1984

I don't have a problem with living in a house that someone died in. Everyone dies, and in old homes, it would not be at all unexpected to learn someone died in the home.

I draw the line at violent murders. If there was a violent murder at the house I'd want to know about it. I would not want to live there. There are such things as ghosts you know.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 8:27PM
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GreenDesigns

It's kinda interesting that the OP registered the same day that they posted, and that this is the ONLY thread they've started OR responded to on any of the forums. I kinda smell a not so disinterested party to the sale of the home.

Ghosts, really? This is why all of the grad students in science and math in our universities are 90% foreign born.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 10:02AM
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sylviatexas1

Jazzdame, the Realtor posts all say "disclose".

I don't know about ghosts, but if there's no stigma about a home in which a violent crimehas been committed, I don't think whats-his-name Castro's house (the guy who imprisoned the 3 girls/women for over a decade) would have been torn down.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 2:11PM
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krycek1984

Speaking as someone who lives in Cleveland that's an excellent point.

And just because someone believes in ghosts or other paranormal activity does not mean that they automatically qualify as crazy and unable to logically think...people who love math and science can believe in ghosts.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 9:34PM
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krycek1984

Speaking as someone who lives in Cleveland that's an excellent point.

And just because someone believes in ghosts or other paranormal activity does not mean that they automatically qualify as crazy and unable to logically think...people who love math and science can believe in ghosts.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 9:35PM
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littlebug5

Well, I don't mean to open a whole other can of worms, but I am offended at the inference that only not-so-intelligent, non-math-and-science-whizzes believe in ghosts.

I consider myself fairly intelligent, and I have seen a ghost. My son is much smarter than me, and he has too. He can tell a story about seeing our resident ghost (where we used to live) that can make your hair stand on end. I absolutely believe him - he is a no-nonsense both-feet-on-the-ground 24 year old man.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 1:20PM
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Jazzdame

If it's appropriate for Realtors to use all it's 'positive History'. To sell a home, such as the rat pack hanging out next door then why is a home murder not also significant? This home has had tons of turnovers, did they all know the truth following the murder? How do they manage to not list the Gills as one of the owners? Sounds like a cover up to me

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 3:36PM
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debrak2008

For those who are interested, this website will tell you who died in your house. For a fee of course. DiedInHouse.com

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 8:28PM
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lazy_gardens

Jazzdame ... How do they manage to not list the Gills as one of the owners? Sounds like a cover up to me

With several websites dedicated to the murders, and your posting here ... yes, it's a coverup, because nothing covers up a gruesome murder faster than posting it to the Internet.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 1:11PM
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LOTO

I worked with buyers who purchased a home where a husband and his girlfriend once lived and were shot and stabbed in the home...girlfriend died in the home and husband died several days later. Lots of disclosure and my buyers picked up a home with a recent 900k appraisal for under 400k...daughter was arrested and charged with the murders 2 years later and is awaiting trial.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 6:14AM
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LOTO

I worked with buyers who purchased a home where a husband and his girlfriend once lived and were shot and stabbed in the home...girlfriend died in the home and husband died several days later. Lots of disclosure and my buyers picked up a home with a recent 900k appraisal for under 400k...daughter was arrested and charged with the murders 2 years later and is awaiting trial.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 6:15AM
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