At first glance, these five American homes are enviable and even majestic. Once you learn the dark deeds committed inside these palatial estates, you’ll appreciate your modest linoleum split-level home a whole lot more.
1) The Bloody Lore of The Gardette-LePrete Mansion
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Crime: Perhaps the strangest and most sordid story in our list, the Gardette-LePrete Mansion, also known as the Sultan’s Massacre House, was built in 1836. The home was allegedly leased to the brother of a Turkish sultan, who threw extravagant parties. Tragedy befell the home when one night, the young renter, his harem, and all of his party attendees were brutally murdered. Neighbors discovered the gruesome acts when they saw blood dripping down the front steps of the home. The killers were never identified. Last we heard the home was on the market for a cool $2.65M. Guess bloodstains don’t impact property values….
2) A Gruesome Attack Forever Taints Taliesin
Location: Spring Green, Wisconsin
Crime: Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright built Taliesin in 1911. Three years later, one of the estate workers, Julian Carlton, murdered Wright’s lover, Maham Borthwick Cheney, and her two children with an ax. Carlton then set the home on fire with additional workers trapped inside. Adding to the horrific scene, Carlton stood with an ax outside of the burning home, waiting if anyone tried to escape. There was never a trial and no motive was determined before Carlton died in the weeks following the attack. The home is now a museum and National Historic Landmark, but we might leave this one off our next Frank Lloyd Wright historic homes tour.
3) Murder At Mercer House Inspires Author & Terrifies Neighbors
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Crime: Built in 1860, The Mercer House has been home to numerous tragedies. Before the murder that would be retold in John Berendt’s novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, two residents died in the home. In 1913, a homeowner tripped, suffered a concussion, and died three days later, and in 1969, a boy fell from the roof and was impaled on an iron fence. The third and most notorious death was the 1981 murder of Danny Lewis Hansford. James Arthur Williams, owner of Mercer-Williams house, shot and killed his assistant and lover, Hansford. Williams was tried for the same murder four times but, after a mistrial and overturned convictions, Williams was found not guilty. The home is currently owned by Williams’ sister and is open for public tours. We’re hoping the roof is not accessible during public visits….
4) Greed Corrupts at the Glensheen Historic Estate
Location: Duluth, Minnesota
Crime: The Gleensheen Estate is known for two reasons — historical significance and murder. Homeowner Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, Velma Pietila, were murdered in Glensheen on June 27, 1977. Congdon was the millionaire heir to mining magnate Chester Adgate Congdon. At the age of 83, Elisabeth was suffocated in her bed, and her nurse was beaten to death with a candlestick. Elisabeth’s daughter, Majorie, and son-in-law, Roger, were arrested for the murders. Only Roger spent time behind bars and left a note, asserting his innocence, when he later committed suicide. Marjorie, who was set to inherit $8.5M from her mother, never got the money from her mother’s estate and has been charged with fraud and arson multiple times since being acquitted from her mother’s murder. Glensheen is now open to public tours, which include a brief mention of the murders. With a legacy like that, it’s probably best that the home is off the market.
5) Family Feud Erupts in Amityville
Location: Amityville, Long Island
Crime: More than 40 years ago, six of the DeFoe family members were murdered in their home in Amityville. The homeowner couple and four of their children were found shot to death in their expensive Long Island Colonial-style home. The family’s oldest son, Ronald DeFeo, told neighbors that he found the bodies upon returning home from work. Ronald’s story soon exposed serious inconsistencies and he eventually confessed to the murders. Ronald’s defense claimed he was suffering from insanity and had been hearing voices plotting against him. Ronald was ultimately found guilty on six counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to six concurrent sentences of 25 years to life. Since his conviction, Ronald has claimed various people, including his mother and siblings were guilty of the murders. None of Ronald’s claims have been effective in overturning his sentence, and his appeals to the parole board have been denied. Ronald’s ever-evolving explanation of the night’s events is a conspiracy theorist’s dream come true.
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Main photo: Wikimedia Commons