Home is where the heart is, and a happy home is a good home. Indeed, there’s no place like home. Etcetera. There are so many tropes and cliches about the elusive concept of home that it can be hard to remember them all. But the whole idea behind home is an important one; it means the place where we are the most comfortable, and the place where we should be able to rest our head peacefully.
Sometimes, though, home can be the most dangerous place. ‘Home’ is one of the biggest facilitators of violence and brutal murder. Forget the comforts and coziness just for a moment – the home can be a useful method to end the life of a person with knives, pillows, and nooks and crannies for hiding weapons and poison, not to mention the advantage of catching someone unawares where they’re most at ease and comfortable. The thought of being murdered at home is terrifying simply because it’s the place where we’re supposed to feel safest, so it’s no wonder that so many horror movies and so much horror fiction sees the pivotal action unfolding in the victim’s home.
But this is not just reserved for horror movies; real-life homes have at times notoriously and tragically become the scene of brutal, horrific crimes. We’ve taken a look at ten of the most morbidly famous murder houses around, ranked by approximate year of either the murders or the conviction of the murderer. From quiet killings to axe wielding psychos, walking into any of these houses knowing their backstories would send some chills up anyone’s spine. As such, it can be hard for these unfortunately famous houses to sell on the real estate market; there’s a social stigma and even certain superstitions surrounding a home in which people were killed. Generally, you’ll know if your home has a dark history – California and New York require full disclosure, though other states are a bit more lenient. The knowledge of a home’s troubled past may be bothersome for most, but for the minority who have a penchant for the creepy it might actually be a draw. In any case, many of the homes on this list have not outlived their reputation and for better or worse are still best known today as morbid murder houses.
10. LaLaurie Mansion – 1800s
Recently seeing a surge of popularity thanks to “American Horror Story”, the LaLaurie Mansion was the site of numerous murders of slaves and servants in the 1800’s. Marie Delphine LaLaurie was a New Orleans socialite, also known as Madame LaLaurie, and her reputation for viciously mistreating her slaves between 1831-1834 is well known. After a fire broke out in the three-story home in 1834, firefighters found numerous slaves, bound and showing evidence of being tortured. Afterward, Madame LaLaurie fled to Paris where it is believed she died. In 2007, Nicolas Cage bought the house for $3.45 million.
9. Lizzie Borden – 1892
Located in Fall River, Massachusetts, the Lizzie Borden House was the site of the grisly murders of Andrew Borden, and his wife Abby Borden. Andrew’s daughter, Lizzie, was accused of killing Abby by slaying her with a hatchet 19 times, and killing her father with 11 blows to the head. Given the nature of the killings and Lizzie being a young woman accused of the murders, the story and the house became the center of media frenzy of the time. Lizzie was later found not guilty of the murders, but there is still strong speculation that she was involved. The house stands to this day and has become a bed and breakfast, as well as featuring on shows such as Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures”.
8. Villisca Axe Murder House – 1912
In a sleepy little town in Iowa lies the site of one of the most violent murders of the early 20th century. On June 13, 1912, two adults and six children were murdered in their beds while they slept. The nature of the murders was even more disturbing as J.B. Moore and his family was axed to death. There were many questions that remain unsolved, such as how the family could be sound asleep and seem undisturbed as each one was axed to death in their beds. The murders still remain unsolved, but theories and speculations continue to surface. The Villisca Axe Murder House still stands today and is open to visitors year round.
7. Hex Murder House – 1928
Also known as Rehmeyer’s Hollow, the Hex Murder House was the site of a sensationalized murder. Thinking they were hexed or cursed by a man named Nelson Rehmeyer, three men had gone to his house with the intention of burning Nelson’s book and lifting any curses he may have cast against the three men. When Nelson refused to comply with the men’s demands, they beat him to death in his home and attempted to set the place ablaze, but that failed…leaving all the evidence behind. The three killers were convicted. The Hex Murder House still survives to this day, and has since become a museum, which opened in 2007.
6. The Tate House – 1969
It was the murder that would make Charles Manson an instant and unwelcome celebrity. In 1969, a very pregnant actress, Sharon Tate, and four friends were gruesomely murdered by members of the Manson family in the 4,600 square foot home of Tate and Roman Polanski. The site remained a spot for numerous tourists and onlookers, and it was rumored that Polanski offered $1.5 million to the city of Los Angeles to destroy the house. The Los Angeles home was eventually bulldozed and the address of the site was changed to 10050 Cielo Drive.
5. Amityville – 1974
Probably one of the most famous houses that the world has ever known, this Long Island house hosted a rather gruesome murder before the alleged haunting against the Lutz family ever took place. In 1974, Ronald DeFeo was found guilty of murdering his entire family by inflicting a gunshot in their heads while they all slept. What was bizarre about the whole situation was that everyone in the family was sleeping and none seemed to stir as gunshot after gunshot was executed. After the Lutz’s moved out from the haunting that occurred in their house, the owners that followed did not report any paranormal activity and the house remains private property to this day, despite all the onlookers and unwelcomed visitors that continue to drive by the house each day.
4. The Menendez Murder House – 1996
The Menendez Brothers became overnight celebrities after they were accused of the murder of their parents in 1996. And what was even more interesting is the fact that the mansion where the murders took place became the center of media frenzy as people wanted to see where the lives of Jose Menendez and his wife Kitty, had ended, which was done by shooting them in the den. The Beverly Hills mansion has six bedrooms and eight bathrooms with a charming Mediterranean style charm.
3. Clear Lake, Texas – 2001
The home of Andrea Yates became the center of media sensationalism after she was arrested for drowning her five children in the bathtub, one at a time. Her husband Rusty was at work at the time of the murders, and rushed home after receiving a chilling phone call from his wife saying that it was time. All the children’s bodies sat outside covered in sheets as they lay dead with their eyes wide open. Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity, but it didn’t stop the public from wanting to take a look and pay their respects to her deceased children. The home was eventually sold to another owner in 2004.
2. Green River House – 2003
One of the United States’ most notorious serial killers lived in a house in Auburn, Washington. It would be the site where Gary Ridgway murdered over 48 women over the course of two decades. Ridgway admitted to luring women from dive bars, and selecting women based on whether they were a prostitute or not, many of whom were buried close together within the vicinity of the last house he lived in. What is even more remarkable was that Ridgway was conducting these killings while married to his wife, who had no idea that her husband was a notorious serial killer.
1. Cleveland, Ohio – 2009
If you were to drive on Imperial Avenue in Cleveland in hopes of finding the home of Anthony Sowell, all you will find is a patch of grass. But in 2009, it was the site of the media frenzy as the bodies of eleven women were found in the house. Neighbors had complained of a foul odor coming out of the house, but the scent was initially chalked up to be coming from the local sausage factory. In 2011, neighbors and bystanders flocked to watch the demolition of the house, and now only grass remains of the grisly location.