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AU Houses of horror - can a murder house absorb evil?

Property Here - Monday, August 12, 2013

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Would you live in a houses of horrors?

The Amityville, Long island, New York house where the murder of six members of a family led to its "haunting". Picture: UPI. Source: Supplied

IF walls could talk, they would tell a bloody story of what happened inside 6 Collins Street, Ryde on July 10, 2001.

That was the evening 20-year-old Sef Gonzales entered his sister Clodine's bedroom armed with a baseball bat and two kitchen knives.

After slaughtering Clodine, Gonzales proceeded to stab and bludgeon his entire family, leaving an unspeakable scene of bloodstained walls and gore.

The house was subsequently cleaned and then "freshened up" for sale.

Disaster ensued. A young Buddhist couple put a deposit on the property, only to discover the real estate agent had not disclosed the house's horror history.

They withdrew, the agent was fined and eventually a less squeamish family moved in for a bargain price.

Other "houses of horror" never make it back on to the property market, notably 2207 Seymour Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, the scene of Ariel Castro's unspeakable crimes against three young women over more than a decade.

The bulldozing of the house within days of Castro's sentencing suggests the community - and Castro's victims - could not sustain the emotional reminder of what occurred behind its locked doors.


Demoliton crews clean up the remains of Ariel Castro's home after it was torn down. Picture: AP

Demoliton crews clean up the remains of Ariel Castro's home after it was torn down. Picture: AP Source: AFP

But can a house really absorb the "evil" that has happened inside?

While real estate agents tend to say no - but agree houses that have been "stigmatised" by violent acts should attract a lower resale price - the head of the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) confesses he is still spooked by a murder-suicide which happened while he was selling a house 37 years ago.

REIA president Peter Bushby was an inexperienced 20-year-old when he was called to do a divorce property settlement appraisal of a house in the Tasmanian town of Launceston.

"The man told me to come back in half an hour because he was busy," Mr Bushby said.

"I drove by about 20 minutes later and there was another car there, so I went down to the shop and bought a Fanta.

"Then I went back to the house. The door was ajar and I pushed it in a fraction and I could see a body in there and what looked like dark fluid.

"My sixth sense told me not to go in and I went down to the police station. The police found three bodies, a double murder and suicide.

"The police told me it was just as well I hadn't gone in or I could have been the fourth victim. I suppose if I'm really honest, to this day every time I go to a vacant house there's a split second..."

Mr Bushby doesn't believe in haunted houses, but understands the sentiment.

The house where the man who was briefly his client murdered his estranged wife and her brother - who had three children under the age of four - has come back on to the market, but Mr Bushby says he would never handle its sale.

"I think it depends on what exactly has happened in the house," he said. "If an old person died or someone committed suicide, I don't think the house is stigmaitized.

"But if there has been violence, or a series of violent acts, then people get freaked out.

"They are superstitious and you can understand why they wouldn't want to live there, or some people will if the price is substantially reduced."

Would you live in a house of horror?

Property blogger Maya Anderson, of, is one person who could not.

"While some people wouldn't be bugged in the slightest about it, I would be," she said.

"I think when you walk into a house you can feel what kind of energy it has.

"Sometimes when I see houses for work, I think a house is going to be amazing and then I walk in and feel chills.

"Yes, maybe if horrible things happened in a house, sure, you can infuse it with love and make it feel good again.

"But if I were living in a house where I knew someone had been stabbed to death? I would think about it all the time.

"I would keep picturing a person so terrified, dragging themselves across the floor trying to flee their killer, realising they are going to die, taking their last ragged breaths, thinking about where they'd realised it was over."

Tim Mendham, executive officer of Australian Skeptics, says "from a scientific point of view haunted houses are complete rubbish - as far as we know".

"It's an emotional response for people to be frightened about a house where things have happened, but from a logical point of view poltergeist activity and such like do not hold up.

"People have irrational fears and the power of suggestion is very important."


The Sef Gonzales house. Picture: News Limited

The Sef Gonzales house. Picture: News Limited Source: News Limited

6 Collins Street, North Ryde

ABOUT 4.30pm on July 10, 2001, Sef Gonzales took two knives from the kitchen of his family home in northern Sydney and a baseball bat and entered his sister Clodine's bedroom.

Gonzales struck his mother with at least six blows and then stabbed her many times in a frenzy, as well as trying to strangle her.

When his mother, Mary Loiva, arrived home at 5.30pm, Gonzales stabbed her multiple times in the face, chest, abdomen and neck, completely transecting her windpipe.

Next up was his father, Teddy, who succumbed to a vicious stabbing onslaught in which his right lung and heart were penetrated and his spinal cord partially severed.

Gonzales showered and changed his clothes and at some point that evening spray painted the words "F--- off Asians KKK" on a wall to fool investigating police into believing his family had been the victims of a hate crime.

It didn't work.


Sef Gonzales stabbed and bludgeoned his entire family in their home. Picture: News Limited

Sef Gonzales stabbed and bludgeoned his entire family in their home. Picture: News Limited Source:Supplied

Gonzales was convicted and imprisoned for three life sentences, and the family home was scrubbed and repainted.

When proposective buyers Ellen Lin and Derek Kwok found out about the horrors, they were paid back their deposit and the NSW Government made it illegal to sell a house without disclosing murders that took place in it.

Real estate company LJ Hooker was fined $21,000 and in November 2005, the house was sold for $720,000 - $80,000 less than the initial sale - to a buyer who said while it was not "ideal" to buy such a house, he had been made aware of its history.



The home of English serials killers Fred and Rosemary West.

The home of English serials killers Fred and Rosemary West. Source: Supplied

25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester

THIS is the house where English ice cream van driver, Fred West, indulged his sadistic sexual tendencies with his second wife, Rosemary.

Over a period of 20 years between 1967 and 1987 West, alone and later he and Rosemary, tortured, raped and murdered at least 11 young women and girls.

The pair lured in and enslaved innocent passers-by, as well as domestic staff and some of their own children into prostitution, incest, group rape sessions and, finally, murder of the women, whose bodies were dismembered and buried in the cellar or the grounds of the house.



west family

Rosemary West, left, and Fred West right with some of their family, including daughter, Heather, far right, whom they murdered. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

Finally apprehended and charged in 1994, Fred committed suicide in prison before he could be convicted and Rosemary was sentenced to life.

The local council sought to obliterate the house from its landscape.

In 1996, council contractors completely demolished the home and a derelict neighbouring building where bodies were also found.

Police sealed off the streets and mounted a guard to stop ghoulish souvenir-hunters plundering the house and garden for relics.

Labourers removed the bricks one by one, burned the timbers and melted fixtures.

The bricks and mortar were crushed, mixed with other general waste, and then used to fill prepared holes in undisclosed parts of the giant council waste.

The property was covered in thick concrete and converted into a landscaped footpath.



112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, Long Island New York - the house where six people were murdered and thereafter haunted.

The Amityville house where six people were murdered and thereafter haunted. Source: Supplied

112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, Long Island New York

THE Lutzes bought the distinctive Dutch Colonial house on the shores of Long Island, New York for a bargain price, knowing but unconcerned about the fact 13 months earlier a man called Ronald DeFeo, Jr. had shot and killed six members of his family in the house.

After 28 days, the Lutzes left the house, claiming to have been terrorised by paranormal phenomena.


George and Kathleen Lutz wrote The Amityville Horror - a True Story. Picture: Supplied.

George and Kathleen Lutz wrote The Amityville Horror — a True Story. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

What they experienced would become the subject of a book which spawned 10 movies, most notably The Amityville Horror.

Various members of the Lutz family told of cold spots, hearing voices, feeling as if they were embraced or beaten by unseen forces, swarms of flies in the house despite the fact it was winter, green slime down the walls and visions of other beings.

The house was never demolished and last went on the market in 2010, for a price of $1.15 million.

Subsequent owners described it was a "beautiful home" with "nothing spooky in it".



2207 Seymour Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio - the home where Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight were found.

The home where Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight were found. Source: AP

2207 Seymour Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

FOR more than a decade the ordinary-looking house on a down-at-heel street in Cleveland, Ohio hid an appalling secret.

One by one, Michele Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina de Jesus had been plucked from the street and taken to the house which had a "dungeon" in which each of the young girls were repeatedly raped by Ariel Castro.

Enslaved, impregnated and tortured, the girls remained prisoners of Castro for up to a decade or more, until the morning of May 6 this year, when Berry plucked up the courage to attract the attention of a neighbour and secure their escape.

Soon after Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to hundreds of crimes, including murdering the unborn babies of Ms Knight, local authorities moved in to demolish the house.

Michelle Knight, and the families of the other two victims watched as an excavator smashed through the walls and razed the foundations.


Tell us below if you would live in a "house of horror", continue the conversation on Twitter @candacesutton1 | @newscomauHQ or email us

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