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Inside the murder homes so horrific they were demolished

 (AP/Milwaukee Police Department/Getty)
(AP/Milwaukee Police Department/Getty)

If walls could talk, the walls of some houses – where the most grisliest slayings have been committed – would scream in horror.

There are many infamous “murder houses” across the nation that were home to some of the most notorious killers in the world – and often, several are where their heinous crimes took place.

Some have been remodeled, polished to perfection and sold to the highest bidder. Others have become tourist attractions – with true crime enthusiasts traveling from all over the world for a glimpse of where evil dwells.

But houses connected to notorious killings are usually demolished – as a way to erase the horrors and the memories forever connected to the site. It’s also a move to stop crime fanatics from scavenging the property for souvenirs of the crime.

Police tape is seen in January 2023 at the Moscow, Idaho home where four University of Idaho students were killed. The house was  demolished on 28 December (Getty Images)
Police tape is seen in January 2023 at the Moscow, Idaho home where four University of Idaho students were killed. The house was demolished on 28 December (Getty Images)

Most recently, the off-campus home in Moscow where four University of Idaho students were fatally stabbed was razed on 28 December during the school’s holiday break.

The demolition began before the sun came up and within two hours, the three-story house was gone.

The demolition marked an emotional step for the victims’ families and a close-knit community that were devastated by the brutal slayings of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, who were stabbed to death there in November 2022.

Some of the victims’ families have opposed the demolition, calling for the house to be preserved until after Bryan Kohberger, the man accused in the killings, is tried.

Prosecutors told university officials in an email that they don’t anticipate needing the house any further, as they were already able to gather measurements necessary for creating illustrative exhibits for a jury.

For decades, there has long been a question of what to do with properties where killers lived or where gruesome murders took place.

Surprisingly, some homes are still standing, a grim reminder of their dark past. Others have been destroyed, a bid to erase any memory of the horrific tragedies.

Here is what happened to other homes linked to notorious killings over the years:

Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Between 1978 to 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer lured 17 men and boys back to his apartment at the 900 block of North 25th Street Street, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he killed them.

The apartment is where police found one of the grisliest crime scenes of all time.

Officers discovered a slew of human remains, including seven skulls, a human head, and two human hearts in the refrigerator, as well as an entire torso stuffed in the freezer.

Police arrived at Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment to find one of the grisliest crime scenes of all time (Milwaukee Police Department)
Police arrived at Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment to find one of the grisliest crime scenes of all time (Milwaukee Police Department)

After Dahmer, nicknamed the “Milwaukee Cannibal” was arrested, the other tenants in the apartment building quickly moved out.

The building was demolished in 1992 and the site has remained vacant ever since.

Dahmer was sentenced to 16 consecutive life terms for killing 17 men and boys. He was killed in prison in 1994.

Police discovered a slew of human remains, including seven skulls, a human head, and two human hearts in the refrigerator, as well as an entire torso stuffed in the freezer (Milwaukee Police Department)
Police discovered a slew of human remains, including seven skulls, a human head, and two human hearts in the refrigerator, as well as an entire torso stuffed in the freezer (Milwaukee Police Department)

John Wayne Gacy’s home

Chicago, Illinois

John Wayne Gacy, one of the world’s most notorious serial killers, assaulted and murdered at least 33 young males in Cook County, Illinois, between 1972 and 1976.

All of the murders were committed at his home 8213 West Summerdale Avenue, he told police, according to Netflix’s true crime documentary series, Conversations With a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes.

Gacy’s home was demolished in April 1979, four months after his arrest.

It was a relief to neighbors, with one who told the Chicago Tribune, “I’ll be glad when every bit of it’s gone.”

In this undated file photo provided by the Cook County Sheriff's Office, authorities exhume a box with the remains of unidentified victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy
In this undated file photo provided by the Cook County Sheriff's Office, authorities exhume a box with the remains of unidentified victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy

He bought the property – a ranch house near Norridge, a village in Norwood Park Town in the Chicago area – in the 1970s and lived there until his arrest in December 1978.

A total of 26 bodies were found in the empty crawl space of his home and three others were found around the property, Newsweek reported. Four bodies were discovered in the nearby Des Plaines River, thanks to a diagram Gacy drew during his confession.

On 13 March 1980, Gacy was convicted of 33 murders. He was also found guilty of sexual assault and taking indecent liberties with a child. He was executed by lethal injection on 10 May 1994, at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois.

After the house was demolished, the lot remained empty for almost a decade, according to the Chicago Tribune. In June 1988, a new home was erected on the site and was given a new address.

House of the ‘Cleveland Strangler’

Cleveland, Ohio

In 2011, the house where Anthony “the Cleveland Strangler” Sowell stashed the bodies of his victims was demolished.

More than 50 people, including relatives of the victims, gathered outside to watch the demolition, local news outlets reported.

The victims’ family members received the following hand-delivered letter from the city:

“In order to prevent actions that would be disrespectful to the memory of your loved one, your family and our community; the demolition will be performed in such a way that no piece of the property will remain.”

Neighbours watch as Cleveland police search the porch at the home of Anthony Sowell (AP)
Neighbours watch as Cleveland police search the porch at the home of Anthony Sowell (AP)

Sowell murdered 11 women between 2007 and 2009. Their bodies were found in various states of decomposition at the home on Imperial Avenue in the dilapidated Cleveland neighborhood of Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

Six rotting bodies were found inside the house and five more were found buried in the garden. Many were cut into pieces and with one victim, police reportedly only found her head.

One week before police made the horrific discovery, the neighbors had seen a naked woman falling from Sowell’s second-floor balcony into the garden, but no action was taken.

Anthony Sowell (AP2011)
Anthony Sowell (AP2011)

He was caught in 2009 after repeated complaints from neighbors in the area who complained about a horrid stench in the area. Initially, no one realized it was the smell of decaying human flesh, but instead assumed that it was a byproduct of a nearby sausage factory, CNN reported.

Prior to his killing spree, Sowell had been released from prison in 2005 after he was convicted in a rape case in 1989.

Sowell died in February 2021 at the age of 61 after being admitted to an end-of-life care unit at the Ohio prison system’s Franklin Medical Center in Columbus, state corrections spokeswoman JoEllen Smith told CNN at the time.

Sowell had a terminal illness that was not related to Covid-19, Smith said.

Charles Manson murders

10050 Cielo Drive, Beverly Hills

It was perhaps the most notorious of the murders carried out by the cult led by Charles Manson – five people, including the actress Sharon Tate, were murdered at 10050 Cielo Drive in 1969.

The Beverly Hills, California home was demolished in 1994.

Police stand guard outside the home of film director Roman Polanski, following the murder of his wife Sharon Tate, and four other people by Charles Manson and his ‘family’ in 1969 (Popperfoto via Getty Images)
Police stand guard outside the home of film director Roman Polanski, following the murder of his wife Sharon Tate, and four other people by Charles Manson and his ‘family’ in 1969 (Popperfoto via Getty Images)

But a new home – a nine-bedroom, 18-bathroom mansion — was built in 1996 and received a new address.

In January 2022, it went on the market for $85 million. The asking price has dropped to $49.5 million, according to the real estate listing. There is no mention in the listing of the murders.

Ted Bundy’s cellar

Emigration Canyon, Utah

Ted Bundy lived in several places during his murderous rampage in the 1970s.

He confessed to the murders of 30 young women and girls in seven states between 1974 and 1978. However, the real victim count is believed to be much higher, at least in the hundreds.

One of Bundy’s rooming houses in Emigration Canyon, Utah has since been destroyed, leaving only a scatter of bricks. But the sinister cellar - where he killed many of his victims - is still intact.

The cellar has become a hotspot for ghost hunters and other true crime fans.

Between September 1974 and September 1975, Bundy lived at 565 1st Avenue in Salt Lake City, Utah, while attending the University of Utah Law School.

It’s believed he kidnapped and murdered at least eight victims aged between 16 and 18 during his time in the state.

After the release of the Netflix documentary series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, many crime fanatics flocked to see the home, TMZ reported in 2019.

The outlet reported that some homeowners became sick of the constant barrage of people at their doors, invading their privacy.

There are five rooms in the house. Bundy used to stay in Room #2, which has since been relabeled Room #5. There is also a fire escape where the killer used to come and go in secret.

Bundy was given the death penalty three times for the murders of three women. Before his execution, he confessed to the murders of 30 women between 1974 and 1978. But some experts believe Bundy killed over 100 people.

Ariel Castro’s ‘House of Horrors’

Cleveland, Ohio

For around a decade, three female victims were kept captive in a home in Cleveland, Ohio.

They were kidnapped by Ariel Castro on separate occasions between 2002 and 2004 when they were 14, 16, and 20 years old.

As the years passed, the teens turned into women, but they remained trapped in the darkness, surrounded by boarded up windows with only a small hole to provide any air circulation.

The house of horrors was demolished as spectators cheered from the street (EPA)
The house of horrors was demolished as spectators cheered from the street (EPA)

Castro repeatedly abused the women and even fathered a daughter with one of his victims.

In 2013, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight managed to escape on 6 May, after Castro failed to secure the “big inside door,” and one of the victims screamed for help.

Castro was arrested and sentenced to life in prison but only lived out one month of his sentence before he hanged himself with a bedsheet in prison.

The house of horrors where the women lived out a decade of hell was demolished as spectators cheered from the street.

Ariel Castro held hree women captive in his home for around a decade (AP)
Ariel Castro held hree women captive in his home for around a decade (AP)

Demolishing private homes is one thing, but in recent years, it’s even become an entirely different issue – especially in the United States – to deal with the decision to tear down a school following a mass shooting.

The school districts and communities are forced to grapple with how they will honour the victims and their families while those left behind face the possibility of having to return, and how they will be able to heal and move forward.

Sandy Hook Elementary School

Newtown, Connecticut

Sandy Hook Elementary School was completely razed after 26 people - including 20 children ages 6 and 7 and six adults - were slaughtered in a deadly shooting on 14 December 2012.

Three weeks later after the attack, Sandy Hook students started attending classes at Chalk Hill Middle School in the nearby city of Monroe.

Four years after the massacre, a newly rebuilt Sandy Hook Elementary opened to students – including fourth graders who were kindergarteners during the bloodbath.

The flagpole was the only part of the old school left untouched.

The school, which opened in 2016, replaced the one that was demolished after 20 first graders and six educators were shot and killed in December 2012. The flagpole was the only part of the old school left untouched (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
The school, which opened in 2016, replaced the one that was demolished after 20 first graders and six educators were shot and killed in December 2012. The flagpole was the only part of the old school left untouched (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Not only was the school demolished, the former home of gunman Adam Lanza, 20, and his mother – met the same fate.

Three years after the mass shooting, the Lanzas’ home, at 36 Yogananda Drive in Newtown, Connecticut, was bulldozed, Newtown Director of Planning George Benson said, according to CNN.

Lanza shot and killed his mother at the same house prior to carrying out the mass shooting at Sandy Hook before killing himself.

Columbine High School

Littleton, Colorado

Columbine High School closed for the rest of the school year after 12 students and one teacher were killed in a mass shooting on 20 April 1999.

Officials said the attack damaged about 23,000 square feet of the school and left an estimated 900 to 1,000 bullet and shrapnel holes in the walls and ceilings.

Students run from Columbine High School run under cover from police 20 April 1999 in Littleton, Colorado (AFP via Getty Images)
Students run from Columbine High School run under cover from police 20 April 1999 in Littleton, Colorado (AFP via Getty Images)

Four months later, at the beginning of the new school year, most of the school reopened – except for the library, which is where most of the carnage took place.

It was demolished and replaced with a newly built school library, called the Hope Library.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Parkland, Florida

On Valentine’s Day in 2018, a shooter gunned down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The deceased included 14 students and three staff members.

Students returned to the school just two weeks after the massacre, but Building 12, where most of the victims were killed, was closed off behind emergency tape with its windows covered.

A new building later replaced the temporary classrooms that students had been using following the deadly rampage.

Florida lawmakers toured the school's 1200 Building, where a former student shot 17 people to death and wounded 17 others on Valentine's Day in 2018 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Florida lawmakers toured the school's 1200 Building, where a former student shot 17 people to death and wounded 17 others on Valentine's Day in 2018 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

While many homes and properties connected to notorious killings are long gone, there are several still standing. Some have been sold and resold, listed without a mention of their dark past.

Others are well-known and often flocked by crime fans, like the Moselle property in the Lowcountry of South Carolina where Alex Murdaugh killed his wife Maggie and son Paul in June 2021.

A Murdaugh Facebook discussion group is filled with comments about fans traveling hundreds of miles to tour the sites of the Murdaugh saga including the Moselle hunting estate, the courthouse where the disgraced legal scion was convicted and even the gravesites of the victims.

Alex Murdaugh Moselle family estate

Islandton, South Carolina

Before it became known as the site where a legal scion Alex Murdaugh killed his wife Maggie and son Paul, the 1,700-acre Islandton, South Carolina, property called Moselle was the family’s hunting estate.

It included a house, a cabin and dog kennels.

The murders happened at the dog kennels in June 2021 and unlike other crime sites that have been torn down, Moselle is still standing.

Murdaugh family home at Moselle (Netflix)
Murdaugh family home at Moselle (Netflix)

Jurors at the trial earlier this year visited the estate to help them better understand the crime scene before they made their decision.

Mudaugh was convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison.

The estate sold for $3.9 million earlier this year and included 1,700 acres. Now, it’s for sale again but only includes 21 acres and the primary Murdaugh residence, the Moselle Estate House.

The listing says the Moselle Estate House could serve as a “a family residence or compound" or allow new buyers to engage in "equestrian pursuits, [a] hobby farm, or just a weekend retreat destination.”

Buster, Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh left to right (Maggie Murdaugh/Facebook)
Buster, Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh left to right (Maggie Murdaugh/Facebook)

JonBenét Ramsey’s home

Boulder, Colorado

A day after Christmas in 1996, the body of six-year-old pageant queen JonBenét Ramsey was found in the basement of a Boulder, Colorado home.

Earlier this year, the same house landed on the market for nearly $7 million. As of December 2023, the house was still listed for $6,249,000. There is no mention of JonBenét’s murder but it is described as “7240 square feet of elegant living areas.”

The child’s mysterious death gained worldwide attention after her mother, Patsy, told authorities she’d found a handwritten ransom note on the stairs demanding $118,000, the exact amount of her husband’s bonus.

Despite an initial search of the house, JonBenét’s body was not found until after 1pm by her father, after police asked him to sweep the home again. She had been beaten and strangled.

JonBenét Ramsey was found dead in December 1996 (Sipa/Shutterstock)
JonBenét Ramsey was found dead in December 1996 (Sipa/Shutterstock)

Two years after the tragedy, the family sold their home to a group of investors for $650,000, according to the Denver Post.

In 2001, the street address was changed from 755 15th Street to 749 15th Street in 2001.

Three years later, it was bought by current owner Tim Milner and his wife, Carol Schuller Milner, who is the daughter of Hour of Power televangelist Robert H. Schuller, for $1.05 million.

Patsy died of cancer in 2006, the same year a teacher, John Mark Karr, confessed to murdering her daughter but was cleared because his DNA did not match samples found at the scene.

The JonBenét Ramsey house has changed hands several times since the child’s mysterious death (Zillow)
The JonBenét Ramsey house has changed hands several times since the child’s mysterious death (Zillow)

In 2008, new advancements in touch DNA cleared the Ramsey family, and Boulder authorities sent a letter of apology. But suspicion and public perception remained.

In the ensuing years, the family have continued to push for justice.

In November 2022, Boulder police and district attorney issued a release about the “ongoing homicide investigation,” announcing it would be consulting with the Colorado Cold Case Review Team in 2023.

Boulder PD told The Independent in December 2023 that the “active investigation continues to receive assistance from federal, state, and local partners.”

Amityville Horror House

Amityville, New York

Ronald DeFeo Jr was 23 years old when he killed his entire family inside their colonial home in Amityville, New York, in 1974.

The house was bought by George and Kathy Lutz a year after the murders but they left after only 28 days saying that the house was beset by paranormal activity like “strange sounds, voices and green slime oozing from the walls,” according to 6sqft.

DeFeo became the inspiration for the film “The Amityville Horror” after he gunned down his father Ronald DeFeo Sr and his mom Louise DeFeo, along with his siblings Dawn, 18, Allison, 13, Marc, 12, and John, 9. They were found facedown in their beds.

Six members of the DeFeo family were murdered at 112 Ocean Avenue in 1974 their tragedy haunts the citizens of Amityville to this day (Getty Images)
Six members of the DeFeo family were murdered at 112 Ocean Avenue in 1974 their tragedy haunts the citizens of Amityville to this day (Getty Images)

The original address for the house, 112 Ocean Avenue was changed to 108 Ocean Avenue to avoid having tourists flock to the scene, according to The New York Post.

The site also reported that the house swapped owners in 2016 when it hit the market for $850,000 and went into contract some months later.

DeFoe, was serving six sentences of 25 years to life at the Sullivan Correctional Facility, when he died in prison in March 2021 at the age of 69, according to the New York State Department of Correction.

The Historic Lizzie Borden House

Fall River, Massachusetts

In 1892, Lizzie Borden’s parents Abby and Andrew Borden were found hacked to death at their Fall River, Massachusetts, home.

Borden, the main suspect, was cleared by a jury in 1893 and the cold case remains unsolved to this day.

The current owners of the former Borden residence have embraced its dark past and turned the space into a bed and breakfast and museum with ghost tours and photo ops, according to its website.

Lizzie Borden
Lizzie Borden

After Borden was acquitted of the brutal slayings of her father and stepmother, she moved to the “Maplecroft” mansion in Fall River, Massachusetts – a 4,000 square-foot property that was recently up for sale for $890,000.

Borden lived at that house with her sister, Emma, until her death in June 1927.