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DeLena Ciamacco is a well-known, respected Top Producing Realtor in Central Ohio. Her myriad of accomplishments, recognition, and professional credentials as they relate to Real Estate, make her a perfect individual to provide insight to the masses on all aspects of Real Estate sales. Her creativity and honest approach to marketing Real Estate has enabled her to succeed in her career. DeLena’s philosophy is “An educated and well prepared Buyer or Seller is a smart Buyer or Seller”. Her desire is to inform the public, by pulling from her 20+ years of Real Estate sales & Marketing, what is necessary to get to a successful closing in these challenging times.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

13 Days of Halloween: Haunted Houses Part 1

 For the next week we'll be introducing you to the more TERRIFYING pieces of real estate in the United States. Some of them you've no doubt heard of, some might be new to you. And some...might be located a little closer than you'd want them to be...

#13) 112 Ocean Avenue
Other Names: The Amityville Horror House
Location: Amityville, New York
Year Built: 1925
Famous Owners: The Lutz Family, The DeFeo Family

112 Ocean Avenue, also known as “The Amityville Horror House” has been a controversial home for several years, due to the events that supposedly took place, and the ensuing backlash that framed the entire affair as an elaborate hoax. Amityville’s morbid history began on November 13th, 1974 when then 23 year old Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed his parents and four siblings in their beds. Investigators have spent years attempting to uncover his motivations for the killings, and his story of what happened the night of the murders has changed several times. At one time it was believed that DeFeo was looking to collect his parent’s life insurance, then that his extensive drug use was to blame, and even that he was possessed by a demonic spirit. Whatever the cause, DeFeo ended up in Green Haven Correctional Facility with 6 consecutive life sentences and no chance of getting out.

A little over a year later, the Lutz family purchased the home despite being aware of its troubled past. George and Kathy Lutz moved into 112 Ocean Avenue with their three children on December 19th, 1975 and would only end up staying in the home for a total of 28 days. Shortly after having Father Ralph J. Pecoraro bless the property, the Lutz family began experiencing a series of horrific events that would serve as inspiration for countless books, movies, and TV specials.

First was Father Pecoraro’s warning: that he felt something wrong in one of the upstairs bedrooms and encouraged no members of the family sleep there. In later years, he would say that he heard something whisper “get out” while he toured the home. George began waking up at precisely 3:15 AM each night with the compulsion to check on the boat house. He would later learn that 3:15 AM was the presumed time of the murders committed by Ronald DeFeo. Other strange events included swarms of flies in the winter, troubling dreams revolving around the murders, awful smells that couldn’t have come from the plumbing or any other source, and cold spots through-out the home.

Things began to escalate quickly from there; the Lutz’s 5 year old daughter Missy began talking to an invisible friend named “Jodie” who she said would crawl in her window and could turn into a pig. Kathy Lutz reported that one night while tucking Missy in, she saw glowing red eyes watching her from outside the window. An increasingly withdrawn George became obsessed with the fireplace, which he would spend hours tending, telling Kathy that he could never feel its warmth. They also discovered a tiny concealed room in the basement measuring 5 by 4 feet in size, the walls painted blood red; their family dog Harry refused to go near it and would whimper in fear while in the basement. They began hearing what sounded like people walking around the top floors when no one was there, and doors and windows would slam shut on their own. A strange slime appeared to ooze out of the walls; a crucifix that Kathy had pinned to a wall spun upside down and began to emit a foul odor, and the family experienced unexplained welts and bite marks on their bodies. The final straw came on January 14th,
1976 after a night that the Lutz’s have never spoken of publicly, and refuse to give details on. The family fled the house, leaving their possessions and never returning to the property.

Since going public with their story, numerous interviews have been given by the Lutz family on what they experienced. After leaving the house, they were contacted by Jay Anson, a writer who used 45 hours of tape recorded interviews with the Lutz family to write “The Amityville Horror: A True Story”. Despite the title, several skeptics would tear into the family’s story which at times did not hold up to fact. George and Kathy have said that they did not work directly with Anson, and that some things featured in the book and the subsequent movies have been embellished, but maintain that they did endure inhuman torment. Accusers believe that the family was well aware of the tragedy that had occurred there, and moved into the home hoping to capitalize from it. William Weber, Ronald DeFeo’s defense attorney actually met with the Lutz’s at one point, and claimed years later that the three had cooked up the story of a haunting over a few bottles of wine. Whatever the truth, the house was sold to the Cromanty family in March of 1977 and reports of the paranormal have come to a stop. Was 112 Ocean Avenue ever really haunted? We certainly don’t know, and we’re not keen on finding out. 

#12) 525 South Winchester Blvd.
Other Names: The Winchester Mystery House
Location: San Jose, California
Year Built: 1884
Famous Owners: Sarah Winchester
The Winchester Mystery House has the distinct honor of being one of only two houses designated by the State of California as haunted (we’ll get to the other one in a little bit.) The sad tale behind the ghosts that supposedly inhabit the sprawling, maze-like complex starts in 1873 with the creation of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, founded by Oliver Winchester. His son, William Wert Winchester would go on to head the company responsible for the Winchester repeater, a.k.a “The Gun that Won the West.” Although the company and the guns they manufactured would lead to a great deal of wealth for William and his wife Sarah, it would also supposedly become a source of torment for them as well. Sarah would give birth to their only child Annie Pardee Winchester in 1866, only to lose her 6 weeks later to marasmus. Soon after that, William passed away as well from tuberculosis, leaving the devastated Sarah Winchester alone to grieve for her family.
The creation of the house would begin following a visit by Sarah to a psychic medium, who told the heiress that the countless people killed at the hands of Winchester’s famous rifles were to blame for the loss of her family. Fearing that the same vengeful spirits would come for her as well, Sarah began construction of The Winchester Mystery House, believing that she would meet a similar fate if she ever stopped building on to it. The results are staggering; in 38 years construction never ceased on the property, leading to 7 stories, 160 rooms, 2 ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, 10,000 window panes, and 3 elevators all sitting on 162 acres. It is estimated that 20,500 gallons of paint were used to paint the
home, and that if such a feat of building were undertaken today, it would cost close to $71 million dollars. But it’s not just the extravagance of the Winchester house that sets it apart; it’s the outright weirdness. Windows are built into floors, doors lead to nowhere, and staircases lead right up to the ceiling. Mrs. Winchester believed the unconventional features of her home were instrumental in confusing the spirits and keeping them from harming her. She continued to supervise the construction of her home right up until her death in 1922.

Even after the Winchester heiress’s death, strange things have continued to occur within the houses walls. Mrs. Winchester was well known for her musical talents, including playing the pump organ located within the house; several caretakers of the property and guests alike have heard the sounds of ghostly organ music floating throughout the empty home. People have heard the sound of breathing while standing in an empty room, footsteps in the room that Mrs. Winchester passed away in, and even screws un-screwing themselves and falling to the floor. Several paranormal investigators have toured the home countless times since Sarah Winchester’s death, and although no definitive proof exists of ghosts within the Winchester Mystery House, all have experienced things that cannot be readily explained by science. Perhaps Mrs. Winchester still exists there and continues to oversee the workings of her extraordinary home.

#11)  92 2nd Street
Other Names: The Lizzie Borden House, The Lizzie Borden Axe Murder House
Location: Fall River, Massachusetts
Year Built: 1845

Famous Owners: Andrew & Abby Borden, Lizzie & Emma Borden
There isn’t a child around that probably hasn’t heard the famous rhyme about Lizzie Borden, who history will always remember as an axe murderer that did away with her father and step mother. However, what most people fail to remember is that Lizzie Borden was actually acquitted of all charges and never served any real jail time. The story behind the murders and even the house is a strange one that still raises several questions over a hundred years later; one is if the spirits of the Borden family still exist there today. 

Lizzie’s father, Andrew Jackson Borden was well known in the community of Fall River as the wealthy owner of several commercial properties, the president of the Union Savings Bank, and director of the Dufee Safe Deposit and Trust Co. Andrew had not always been so fortunate; he began as an undertaker, then a textile investor, utilizing his shrewd business skills and legendary penny-pinching ways to accumulate wealth. His tight-fistedness was well known, and the home that would be the scene of his murder years later was one of the only houses on the block that did not have indoor plumbing and still used oil lamps instead of electricity to save on money. In 1865 Sarah Borden, Lizzie and her older sister Emma’s mother would pass away, prompting Andrew Borden to remarry in the same year. He married Abby Durfee Gray who was described as somewhat cold and uncaring towards the Borden children. In
years before the murders, Lizzie would stop referring to Abby as mother and only called her “Mrs. Borden.”

It was the well-known tension between Lizzie and Abby that would cause many to suspect that Lizzie was to blame for her parent’s murders. On August 4th, 1892 the Borden’s maid Brigit Sullivan would be awoken by Lizzie around 11:10 AM, shouting that someone had killed her father. As doctors, the police, and family friends arrived to tend to Lizzie and the body, Brigit would also find Abby Borden dead in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Both bodies had sustained heavy injuries to the face and head, with marks consistent to that of an axe. Upon further investigating of the house, police found a hatchet in the basement devoid of any blood, but missing a large portion of the handle. A week later, the Falls River police department would arrest Lizzie Borden as a suspect in the murder of her parents. 
Aside from the obvious tension between Abby and Lizzie were other markers that Lizzie could have potentially been at fault. Both Lizzie and Emma had become angry with their father for his generosity towards Abby’s side of the family, giving portions of property and money away that they saw as their inheritance. Andrew Borden had also angered Lizzie in the days before his murder after killing pigeons that she kept in their barn as pets. Also mentioned at the trial was the fact that in the days leading up to the deaths of Andrew and Abby Borden, the entire household had been violently ill. A local druggist testified that Lizzie had sought to procure Prussic acid from him, supposedly to clean a cloak. At the time of their illness, Abby Borden had raised the suspicion that they were being poisoned. Before Lizzie had been arrested, the police had requested she turn over the dress she had been wearing the morning of the murders. It was discovered that the dress she handed over was not the same dress, and that the original dress had been burned several days earlier, supposedly because Lizzie had brushed against wet paint and ruined it. All of this added up to a damning portrait of Lizzie as the killer of Andrew and Abby Borden.
The court case against Lizzie Borden began the following June, and saw a number of witnesses and prominent Fall River citizens take the stand. Several people testified to Lizzie’s religious affiliation with the local church and her generous nature. Some even downplayed the hostility between Lizzie and Abby, claiming that it had been blown out of proportion by the media. Police also discovered that the hatchet found in the basement could not have been the murder weapon, and that there were too many possibilities when it came to who could have enter the Borden house at that time of the morning. With no clear cut answer, Lizzie was acquitted of the murders and allowed to return to the Borden house with her sister Emma. To this day people theorizes who could have killed the Borden’s; some believe that Lizzie entered a fugue state and committed them without remembering, while others claim that the maid Brigit, who was present in the home at the time did it. Another theory has surfaced in recent times that Andrew Borden actually had an illegitimate son, who attempted to extort money from the Borden fortune. When he was turned away, he sought vengeance by killing Andrew and Abby, the only family member’s home at the time. Whatever the case, Lizzie Borden continued to live in Fall River until her death in 1927, after changing her name to Lisbeth in an attempt to distance herself from the murders. She is buried in the local Oak Grove Cemetery, along with her parents and sister Emma.
Since the deaths of the Borden family, several visitors to the house have reported strange occurrences. Some have heard what sounds like a woman crying, or of muffled speaking in other rooms, or the sound of footsteps up on the third floor. Many believe that Abby Borden is definitely still present in the house; a bed stationed in the room where she died has been known to become ruffled as if someone has just laid down to rest, complete with an imprint on the pillow of a human head. When visitors leave the room and return, the bed returns to pristine condition (Abby was killed while making beds the morning of the murders.) Lights also turn on and off randomly, and electrical equipment is prone to acting up. If ghosts do indeed exist, and are caused by tragic and violent deaths, then there’s no question that the Borden’s house is haunted. The real mystery lies in who put them there.

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