Maybe you’d like to take a casserole over to the new neighbors in the murder house? Maybe that kid in the serial killer’s old home could mow the grass this summer? Do you really know the disturbing history of your own place? These 10 places—mostly homes just like yours—will creep you out.
10. THE CANDY MAN’S TORTURE HOUSE
2020 LAMAR, PASADENA TX
Sadistic serial killer Dean Corll—known as the Candy Man beacuse his family operated a candy shop—paid two teenaged henchmen to lure unwitting boys to this house near Houston, where he tortured, raped, and killed them. Ironically, Corll himself was murdered here in 1973 by his own cold-blooded helpers, and police found 27 corpses buried in Corll’s boat shed and in a mass grave on a beach.
9. A JIHADI’S CHILDHOOD HOME
313 FITE ST., LAS CRUCES NM
On April 22, 1971, a bouncing baby boy was born to Mr. and Mrs. Nasser al-Awlaki, while dad studied at New Mexico State University. Little Anwar, who moved from NM at age one, would grow up to be a radical US imam and, eventually, one of al Qaeda’s most potent recruiters. He was killed in 2011 US drone strike in Yemen … followed by another drone strike a few days later that killed his terrorist son. The killings set off a debate about the morality and legality of killing US citizens in the Terror War.
8. A ‘SOCIABLE’ & GATOR-FRIENDLY TAVERN
7843 FM 327 , ELMENDORF TX
Young Joe Ball returned from WWI to become a bootlegger. After Prohibition, he opened a roadhouse near Elmendorf and called it the ‘Sociable Inn,’ where he hired pretty waitresses and kept a pond full of live alligators out back. Waitresses disappeared frequently, and it was eventually discovered that Joe was feeding them to the gators. When cops came to arrest him, he shot himself in this tavern, now a private home.
7. WELCOME TO HELL HOUSE
ST MARY’S SEMINARY, ILCHESTER MD
Myths and legends swirl around the ruins of old St. Mary’s College, which has been nostly razed. Most are variations of a yarn about an insane priest who hanged five young girls facing one another around a pentagram and then shot himself. It never happened, but the legend of such a ghastly crime (and of satanic rituals, meth labs and malicious caretakers) fuels the old seminary’s nickname: Hell House.
6. MURDER BY UNICORN
3411 RACE (2nd FLOOR), PHILADELPHIA PA
In the 1970s, smelly hippie guru Ira Einhorn called himself “The Unicorn” (because his German name translated to “one horn”). He loved naïve young college girls like Bryn Mawr grad Holly Maddux. They lived together for five years, but after a fight in 1977, Holly disappeared. Four years later, her mummified corpse was found stuffed in a trunk in a closet in Einhorn’s apartment. Out on bail while awaiting trial, Einhorn fled the US in 1981, but he was convicted in absentia in 1993 and sentenced to life in prison. In 2001, the fugitive Einhorn—free for almost 20 years—was extradited from France. He remains in prison.
5. THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS
OUTSIDE LaGRANGE TX
Not much is left of the bordello immortalized in the Broadway musical “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” but the Chicken Ranch was drawing crowds for 80 years before that. Things were finger-lickin’ good until 1973, when a Houston TV reporter aired a story about how the local sheriff had turned a blind eye to the place. Texas had a whorehouse in it! Shocker. The governor couldn’t ignore the dismay and ordered the Chicken Ranch closed.
4. THE BAT MAN IN THE ATTIC
825 N LAFAYETTE PARK PL., LOS ANGELES CA
TDolly Osterreich had a secret: Her lover had lived in her attic for years. At night, he hid quietly. During the day, he came downstairs for lovemaking and grocery shopping with Dolly. In 1922, the guy in the attic killed Dolly’s husband according to their plan … and they got away with it. In 1930, they were finally busted, but California’s manslaughter statute of limitations had expired and they were freed.
3. END TIMES IN THE ‘BURBS
2707 N WHITE AVE, LaVERNE CA
Apocalyptic cult leader Davided Koresh kept 18 wives in this 1917 home before he moved his growing cadre of followers to Waco TX, where 76 people, including Koresh, died during a 1993 federal raid gone wrong.
2. VAMPIRE SECRETS … AND A SURPRISE
303 E 17th St., CHEYENNE WY
In the 1990s, Chicago filmmaker Allen Ross met a female cult leader who believed that talking on a telephone gave vampires control over people. The cult moved to Cheyenne and kept a low profile. When Ross threatened to leave in 1995, he disappeared. In 2000, Cheyenne police found Ross’ body crammed in the crawl space. He’d been shot once in the head.
1. THIS HOUSE WAS NOT A HOME
2475 GLENDOWER PL, LOS FELIZ CA
On Christmas Eve 1959, Dr. Harold Perelson fell apart. In the wee hours, the Los Angeles heart specialist smashed his sleeping wife’s skull with a hammer, then savagely beat his 18-year-old daughter. Then he calmly gulped a glass of acid and died. The sprawling 1925 mansion was sold but the new owners left most of the house just as they’d found it. As late in 2010, an artificial Christmas tree stood in the living room, unwrapped gifts beneath it, and a 1950s TV sat nearby amid period decor. (A new owner recently renovated the place.)
Can’t get enough of Ron’s “Top 10” lists? Browse some of the previous blogs here:
◙ 10 Mug Shot Tips for Your Next Arrest
◙ 10 Crime Myths You Probably Believe
◙ 10 Texas Crime Facts You Didn’t Know
◙ 15 Places for Writers to Retire
◙ 10 Wyoming Crime Facts You Didn’t Know
◙ 10 Songs for Every Writer’s Playlist
Want more? Check out Ron’s crime history books, The Crime Buff’s Guides to Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles. They’re all available everywhere.