There’s a lovely three-bedroom, three-bath home for sale in northeast Ohio listed at a reasonable $295,000 — for its size (2,170 square feet), it’s slightly more expensive than the median $120-per-square foot home value in the U.S., at $136 per square foot. The ranch-style home has all sorts of charming touches: It’s situated in the woods, has a pond on the property, features wood-burning fireplaces and the rear features large glass windows that let in plenty of natural light and overlook the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The house went on the market more than two years ago and hasn’t yet sold.
For all its attractive character, this place has an unfortunate past: It was where notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer committed his first murder. He was living alone in his family’s home in 1978 when he lured his first victim, Steven Hicks, into the house, eventually killing him and dismembering the body in the crawl space. Though he initially buried Hicks’ body in a shallow grave in the backyard, online summaries of Dahmer’s crimes say he later unearthed it and scattered some remains in the woods. Though he didn’t kill again for nine years, the slaying in Ohio is considered the first in the killing spree of 17 men and boys that earned him the gruesome nickname the Milwaukee Cannibal.
It’s not exactly the backstory most people want to hear when they’re looking for their next home.
“As soon as someone calls me about the property, I pretty much stop them and give them the history,” said Richard Lubinski, the real estate agent from Stouffer Realty managing the sale. “I guess it’s 50/50: They’re either instantly done talking about it, or they have to kind of stop and think about.”
Though Dahmer moved to Wisconsin (where he committed the majority of his crimes), was convicted in 1992 and was killed in prison by another inmate two years later, the house hasn’t gone unoccupied. The current owner is musician Chris Butler, who talked about living in the home in a 2009 NPR piece. He needed a place where he could play music without disturbing others, and he, like many others probably have been, was surprised to find a perfect place at an affordable price.
“I was instantly charmed the first time I pulled in the driveway and was really puzzled why such a fantastic pad had gone unsold for six months, though it was priced way below anything comparable in the area,” he said in the NPR report. He bought the house even once he learned of its grisly past, but he decided to move in 2012. There’s a tenant in the home right now, Lubinski said.
The price has been slashed and has been relisted with a different real estate agency in the past two years, but it remains unsold. Lubinski said he knows there’s a buyer out there, and it’s not just the history holding back the sale. It’s a bit on the smaller side, he said, but it’s also an updated, mid-century modern home, which is a popular style now. Some people just don’t care about what happened there, he said.
“It’s a great house. The house didn’t kill anybody,” Lubinski said. The updated kitchen and open floor plan are large selling points, not to mention the location. “It’s just a nice kind of tranquil area.”
Yes, the house has a lot of historical baggage, but it’s undeniably a beautiful home. The estimated monthly mortgage payment, according to the listing on Zillow, is $1,144. Depending on your credit standing and down payment, you could probably get it for an even better deal — that is, if you’re cool with living in a piece of American serial-killer history.
Interested in buying a home (this one or any other), but not sure you’re ready yet? It’s a good idea to get familiar with your credit reports and credit scores, in addition to taking a look at your finances. You can pull your free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, and you can use Credit.com to see your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days.
More on Mortgages and Homebuying:
- Why You Should Check Your Credit Before Buying a Home
- How to Get a Loan Fully Approved
- How to Search for Your Next Home
Image courtesy of Rich Lubinski