I almost bought a murder house.
This is, I suppose, more of a Halloween story than it is a Christmas one, but when you almost buy a murder house, it really becomes sort of an all-occasion kind of tale.
Let me start from the beginning.
My husband and I have been house-hunting. He wants a yard and I want room to have my family stay for holidays.
Recently, we found a place that fit our parameters nicely: It's in a good neighborhood and was a decent price. When we walked inside, we were impressed. Jacuzzi-jet bathtub! Brand-new oak floors! Tons of room!
We put in an offer and quickly realized the seller was what real estate people call "highly motivated." The offer was accepted.
The night before we were to sign the contract, my husband was chatting with his friend about the house.
"I know that place," the friend says. "That's where the woman got murdered last year."
Hold on. Murdered?
Oh, did the seller forget to mention that? A woman was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat in the kitchen on Christmas Day. There was, according to one news article, "blood all over."
We would be the lucky first occupants since the heinous crime!
You might assume that, legally, people are required to disclose a murder on the premises. You would be incorrect.
A law was passed in 1991 specifically protecting people from liability if they don't tell a potential buyer about a murder or suicide, according to Tribune news reports at the time. But they do have to answer questions honestly, from what I can tell in my research.
Added to the list of questions I will now ask future sellers: "Was anyone murdered in here?"
Do I have to tell you we turned down the house? Maybe I do, because there are some who think I'm crazy to make it a deal-breaker. A co-worker was particularly taken aback.
"You're a reporter!" she exclaimed, asking if I'd ever been to a crime scene.
Uh, yes. But I don't want to live in one.
I don't believe in ghosts, but there are unquestionably negative vibes involved. Would I want to stop on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night and look out onto the kitchen, thinking, "Oh, here's where the eyewitness was standing"? Or, maybe over a languid cup of coffee some Saturday morning, I glance at the kitchen wall and wonder, "Did blood get up here?"
It would be different if the owner had died of a heart attack. But, as the facts currently stand, I'm way too icked out to live there.
I'm not mocking the terrible experience the victim's family endured. It's a true tragedy, horrific in its details and not at all funny to those personally affected. I just don't want to be a part of that tragedy in any way.
I'd rather live and die in my own cramped condo, and let someone else make the call about whether they want to live in the place where I met my end.
firstname.lastname@example.org | @gcgarvey