Suburban Twin Cities home for sale has dark history
APPLE VALLEY, Minn.—The remodeled rambler at 1051 Ramsdell Drive in Apple Valley is on the market for $279,900 and includes a new roof, siding, granite countertops, new carpet and refinished hardwood floors.
It also comes with a tragic history.
Around Dec. 26, 2014, previous owner and amateur filmmaker David Crowley shot and killed his wife, Komel, and their 5-year-old daughter, Raniya, before turning the gun on himself. They were found Jan. 17, when a neighbor who decided to check on them peered through a living room window and saw the bodies on the floor.
The house has been empty since, a sad reminder to neighbors of the double murder-suicide, said Lorray Tupy, who lives next door.
"There's just this sadness to it," she said.
The real estate listing shows the sales price has been cut $20,000 since the house was listed.
Tupy said she was relieved when the house hit the market in July—and hopes it goes to "the right buyer."
"In a way, you just want it to be a house again, not just this place with bad memories," Tupy said. "Everybody calls it 'the murder house.' For that reason alone, it would be nice to have life back in there."
The Crowleys bought the house in December 2013 for $219,000, and it fell into foreclosure after their deaths.
Tupy said she and her neighbors wanted it torn down and that they eventually grew angry that the bank wasn't doing anything with it.
"We would've preferred that it was just gone—leveled," she said. "But it just sat there. Finally somebody came."
In February, Neighborhood Rehabilitation of Prior Lake paid $186,000 for the house at a sheriff's sale. Workers showed up in March to begin the transformation.
After a few days, Tupy went inside. The living room walls had already been painted, and the spot where the family died was patched, she said. The only sign of the crime, she said, was a string that investigators had stretched from one end of the room to the other to show a bullet trajectory.
"It bothered me to see that," she said. "For me, the living room reminded me of everything that happened. The house didn't feel spooky; it felt empty and sad.
"It looks so different now. I'm grateful for that ... the paint job, the new roof, the flowers."
Tragedy must be disclosed
A man who answered a phone number listed for Neighborhood Rehabilitation—and would identify himself only as the business' owner—said many interested parties have walked through the house, but he has not found a buyer.
He said a disclosure statement with the MLS listing indicates a murder-suicide happened there.
"It seems like it's a problem for most of the regular buyers," he said.
Minnesota law states that a licensee shall disclose to a prospective buyer "all material facts of which the licensee is aware, which could adversely and significantly affect an ordinary purchaser's use or enjoyment of the property."
That means that if someone has been murdered in a home, a seller or real estate agent is obligated to disclose it to a potential buyer, said Chris Galler, chief executive officer of the Minnesota Association of Realtors.
"It's fairly broad, but we've informed our members that we believe they should disclose murder if they're aware of it happening in a property," he said. "But we also run into some complications there in that it depends how long."
The law does not specify how much history should be disclosed.
"What if it was a murder that happened in the 1920s or in the 1950s?" Galler said. "Is that the same as 2014? We generally advise our clients to be on the safe side and disclose it. But that's where you might get some sellers who say, 'That's not going to adversely affect someone's enjoyment of a property.' "
If a murder is not disclosed, the buyer could bring court action against the seller and the agent, he said.
The law excludes suicide, accidental death, natural death and perceived paranormal activity.
"There was a thought that, 'Well, if a property has ghosts in it, you should be disclosing that.' First you'd have to prove there's ghosts," he said. "But there were lawsuits on that particular issue in other parts of the country. When that came through, we addressed it (at the Legislature)."
Tupy said she often thinks of the Crowley family, especially when she is outside. She likes to think of Raniya running up to her car when she pulled into the driveway and asking to come inside.
"The little girl was so smart and had such a great vocabulary," Tupy said. "So beautiful, just an absolute joy."
These days, Tupy is instead approached outdoors by people looking at the former Crowley house. Some are unaware of its history. When they inquire about it, she replies: "Google the address."
"There might be some people who are fine with what happened in the house and it's not going to bother them," said Tupy, who has lived next door since 1979. "But they need to know."