The Toronto Star reports this morning that Eric and Sade-Lea Tekoniemi bought what they thought was their dream home in Bowmanville, ON, last year, only to learn that it had been the site of a double murder in 1996, when a paranoid schizophrenic stabbed his mother and daughter to death, apparently in spectacular fashion. They wanted to back out of the sale when they learned this, but were informed by their lawyers that it was too late in the process.
Since moving in, Ms. Tekoniemi claims that due to the bad juju, she
had suffered severe depression, and sleep and mood disorders because of the murder revelation and living in the house.
She has experienced heart palpitations, shortness of breath, faintness, nervousness when sharp knives are not out of sight when not in use, and visualizing “extremely graphic and horrifying images during unguarded moments” related to the murders, the claim added.
So the couple is suing the previous owners and the realty agency on the grounds of failure to disclose, and the Star says the case will put caveat emptor to the test.
I found this of some interest, given the fact that I had to sell the house in which my parents were murdered. In our case, the sale took place less than two years after the murders, and there was a significant discount — a function both of circumstance and the generally weak market at the time. We didn’t make a secret of the house’s history, but didn’t make a production of it either. Our agent would describe it as an estate sale, and if asked how the previous owners had died, she would tell them. I’m pretty sure that this history ran some potential buyers off, but ultimately I’m pleased that the house went to a young man and his fiancee, as I’m glad new lives can start there.
But even at the time, I told our agent that my family had 31 generally good years there — and two or three hideous minutes. She asked if she could use that line when she was asked about the murders, and I told her I didn’t see why not, seeing as it was true. And I’m sure there were folks who came to showings just to see Where It Happened. In my darker moments, I considered “embracing the suck” and attempting to sell it to someone ghoulish: “Own your own Murder House! Prices Reasonable!”, but the better angels of my nature won out.
I’m glad we were honest about the whole affair, not just so situations like the one in Canada are avoided, but because I simply prefer to live that way. But all the same, uncomfortable reminders can appear from unexpected directions.