By M.P. Pellicer | Eerie.News
Home buyers will fork over money for a supposedly haunted house, especially if it's offered at a bargain price. However the very act that sometimes is a source for a haunting, like a murder, is the death knell (no pun intended) for future sales.
It's been reported that Americans are most likely to consider purchasing a haunted house if it has a lower sale price (63%), is in a safer neighborhood (57%), or has friendly ghosts (53%).
But all of this changes if murder has been committed within its walls, especially if it occurred in recent years.
In May 2015, four people were killed inside a home in the Woodley Park neighborhood of Washington D.C. house. Savvas and Amy Savopoulos, along with their 10-year-old son Philip and their housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, were held hostage for 19 hours. The boy was tortured in order to force the parents to pay $40,000 in cash. The crime became known as the Mansion Murders.
The house like others who have violent incidents committed within its walls, became known as a stigmatized property, which is defined as those that have been "psychologically impacted" by crime. It all comes down to karma, and most home owners prefer a home with a good one.
Before the murder, the Savapoulos's home was valued at $4.6 million according to tax records. Even though the house had been damaged by fire, real estate agents considered it could be easily restored.
The house on the corner property at 2802 32nd St. NW -- which previously had the address 3201 Woodland Drive NW went up for sale in November 2015, for $3.5 million. A listing said the house would be sold as-is. It was clear there had been a fire, and there was a red crime scene seal on the door.
The tainted property sold a few months later for $3 million, which was considered a bargain.
The new owners demolished the brick house, and had an architect design a beautiful new home, which included a pool. However for some unknown reason they changed their mind and put the property up for sale in 2018. In August, 2021, the vacant lot sold for $2.6 million, after it languished on the market for years. In other words the sellers took a loss on the transaction.
A home in the nearby neighborhood with a similar size lot went on the market for $6.3 million.
The new owner claims he doesn't believe in ghosts, but he was reported as saying, "Even my contractor asked if he could hold a little seance at the property. I laughed and said, ‘You can do whatever the hell you want, I don’t care. I don’t believe in ghosts and goblins.'"
Many states do not obligate sellers and real estate agents to disclose a murder or other event that could stigmatize the property.
Take the case of Brian Betts (1967-2010) a middle school principal. He bought a house at the address 9337 Columbia Blvd., Silver Springs, Maryland (changed in 2012 to 9335 due to the notoriety of crimes committed at the address). It was a three bedroom, 2.5 bath, brick house built in 1936, however it had a recent and dark history he did not know about.
In 2002, George Russell, former deputy director of the Maryland Port Administration, and his 9-year-old daughter Erika were shot to death inside the home. When Betts bought the house in 2003, he was ignorant of what transpired inside its walls. Once he found out, he tried to rescind the deal but was not successful.
The Daily Mail said he even had two ministers come to the house, and bless it in order to get rid of any evil spirits. Through the years he tried to sell the house, but also did not meet with success.
Eight years later, Betts met the same fate as Russell and his daughter.
His murderer Alante Saunders, 18, met him on a telephone chat line. They agreed to meet at Betts home, and he left the front door unlocked. Saunders and three accomplices showed up, and Betts was robbed, shot and left to die.
Saunders was eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He was one of four men charged in the crime. One of them, Joel Johnson was shot to death in 2012 by a man he attempted to rob at gunpoint. He had served 18 months in connection to the Betts murder, and had been released for 15 months before he died.
Betts’s family surrendered the property to the bank, and were quoted as saying that if they had their way, they'd bulldoze the house over.
In a strange twist, a O'Neil McGean, a man who Betts dated for 10 years during the 1990s also met a violent end. After their breakup Betts moved to Maryland, McGean ended up in Mazatlán, Mexico a Sinaloa state. McGean returned to the U.S. for Betts funeral, and was quoted as saying that he would be more careful in who met.
Unfortunately with the passage of years, the fear dulled, and in 2016, he agreed to meet a man he met on a gay dating app at a hotel. He vanished along with $16,000 from his bank account.
After receiving texts demanding a ransom of $26,000, the requests suddenly stopped. Donnie McGean, O'Neil's brother flew to Mexico and contact the FBI and DEA.
Police investigators believed that Jorge Guillen Gonzalez, McGean's former lover and business partner, with the help of three other men, lured McGean into a kidnap plot. They beat him so badly that his lungs were punctured and he died. They rolled the body in a hotel curtain, stuffed him a suitcase and buried him under fresh concrete in a yard across town.
The FBI agent warned Donnie McGean not to look at O'Neil's face, so he identified his little brother by the Irish family crest tattooed on his shoulder.
Eventually three of the men were arrested, and one escaped. McGean's relative fear the case will never be solved as the prior governor of Sinaloa was voted out of office amid accusations of corruption.
The new governor, Quirino Ordaz Coppel never responded to Donnie McGean's inquiries regarding the investigation of his brother's murder. He later learned he owned the Pacific Palace Hotel where O'Neil was killed.
Ordaz served as governor until 2021, and is presently the ambassador to Spain.
THE MANSION MURDERS
Delivery of the $40,000 the killer demanded from the Savopoulos family did not save them. An assistant for the family delivered the cash. Inside the house, the victims were bound with duct tape, and eventually beaten to death with a baseball bat. The boy was stabbed and burned as well. The house was then set on fire. The perpetrators also stole the family's blue Porsche which was found abandoned in a church parking lot.
Two teenage daughters, Katerina and Abigail were away at school when the murders were committed. Another housekeeper, Nelly Gutierrez who worked at the Savopoulos home for almost 20 years, escaped because she was cleaning another property for the family. On the day of the murder she received a text asking her not to come to the house.
When the fire department responded to the blaze, they found the bodies inside.
Daron Wint was identified as a prime suspect, via a DNA match to a crust of Domino's Pizza delivered to the house during the time the family was held hostage. He was a welder who once worked at American Iron Works which Savvas Savopoulos owned, which led police to believe the family was not chosen randomly.
Wint immigrated to the U.S. from Guyana in 2000. He had a history of serious criminal charges and was convicted in 2009 of second-degree assault. He had also been charged with theft, assault, a sexual offense and weapons possession in the past.
Prosecutors believed Wint had help in the perpetration of the crime, however he was the only one charged.
Wint was found guilty of 20 counts of kidnapping, extortion and premeditated, first degree murder in 2018, and was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
In December, 2021, Wint presented an appeal for a new trial saying the judge blocked his lawyers from calling an additional witness in his 2018 trial, which according to Wint's attorneys could prove that Wint's brothers were the real culprits.
In March 2022, the courts heard arguments for overturning Wint's conviction. The appeals court will decide whether the trial judge erred and if that warrants a new trial. The decision will be in a written opinion at a future date.
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