For $1.9 million, you could be the proud owner of a 7,240-square-foot, five-bedroom renovated 1920s home in one of Boulder, Colorado’s most desirable neighborhoods. The catch? The basement of this dream home is where six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in 1996. Still interested?
Despite the Bernardi Real Estate Group’s efforts to promote its “grand rooms, great light” and “elegance of past generations combined with modern updates,” the Ramsey estate clearly seems to be suffering from a textbook case of Haunted House Syndrome. JonBenet’s parents, who vacated immediately after the young pageant winner’s body was discovered, sold the house to investors for $650,000 in 1998. In 2004, televangelist Robert Schuller’s daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, and her husband Tim Milner, bought the place for $1.05 million, but it’s been on and off the market several times since then.
Whether or not they’re actually possessed, so-called “murder houses” can be the bane of a real estate agent’s existence. They’re often severely under-priced (unless their murders are fictional), impossible to sell and even harder to keep off the market—despite being a serious bargain for anyone who can get past their sordid backstory. Occasionally, realtors manage to avoid revealing the secrets of lesser-known houses, leaving their clients to learn of their new home’s horrific history after the deed has been signed. But, like the Ramsey house, the scenes of famous crimes that captured national headlines are often doomed to be haunted by the ghosts of murders past.
You’d never guess from the real-estate listing that this “charming Georgetown townhouse with three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms” was the site of one of the strangest murders in recent history.
The Yates' Family Spanish-Style Hacienda
It’s not hard to believe that the three-bedroom house at 942 Beachcomber Lane in Houston where Andrea Yates drowned her five children in 2001 became a neighborhood spectacle. Still, Peter Muller considered the 1,620-square-foot house, located near several schools and hospital, to be a steal at $87,000 when he bought it in 2004. “I don’t really care about [the home’s] history...It doesn’t really bother me,” Muller told AOL Real Estate in 2012, insisting then that he had no plans to move any time soon.
The Von Bulow Mansion
The curious case of Martha “Sunny” von Bulow captured the nation’s attention for the better part of the 1980s. At the beginning of the decade, the American heiress was found unconscious on the bathroom floor of her Newport, Rhode Island mansion. Von Bulow’s socialite husband, Claus, was convicted and then acquitted of trying to kill his hypoglycemic wife with insulin injections. In 2008, Sunny von Bulow died at 76, after almost 28 years in a coma. In 2012, the 7.2 acre estate on Newport’s famed Cliff Walk where she entered her twilight state was sold to an anonymous buyer for the record price of $13.1 million.
Amanda Knox’s Perugia House
The picturesque Perugia house where British student Meredith Kercher was brutally killed in 2007 is recognizable to anyone who followed the murder trial of Kercher’s American roommate, Amanda Knox. In January, the stucco converted farm building, divided into two apartments, went on the market for $500,000. At the time, the real-estate agent tasked with selling the now-infamous house was not optimistic. “It is obviously a property with a difficult history,” he told The Daily Beast. “Those types of houses are never easy to sell.” Concerned that the sale might inviting curious sightseers, the owners are also considering selling the property as a bed and breakfast or an office space. If it doesn’t sell, though, the scene of Meredith Kercher’s murder will likely be torn down.
Murdered Socialite’s Georgetown Townhouse
You’d never guess from the real-estate listing for 3206 Q St. Northwest, that this “charming Georgetown townhouse with three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms” was the site of one of the strangest murders in recent history. Even before the then-47-year-old Albrecht Muth was charged with strangling and beating his 91-year-old socialist wife to death in 2011, Viola Drath’s marriage to an Iraqi general-impersonating pretend “Count” 44 years her junior was the stuff of high-society lore. In January of this year, after delaying his trial with a hunger strike, Muth was convicted of first degre- murder. The rowhouse where Drath’s body was found is still on the market for $1.6 million.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s Childhood Home
“I didn’t stop shaking for another 24 hours,” musician Chris Butler told the Akron Beacon Journal of his reaction when he found out that the ridiculously cheap, three-bedroom, 1950s-style Ohio house he thought would be perfect for rehearsing with his bandmates was the childhood home of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who raped and murdered 17 men and boys before he was arrested in 1991. Butler got over it, though, and bought the house anyway and even moved his mother into the place where Dahmer killed his first victim. Despite saying “I love, love, love the place,” he put the 2,170-square-foot house on the market for $329,000 in 2012 to move closer to his son in New Jersey.