The site of a killing spree in Windsor Terrace has recently gone on the market, but is having trouble finding a buyer, The Windsor Terrace blog reports. In December, 31-year-old Ryan Devaney stabbed his mother and father at their home, 21 Howard Place, a side-street just blocks from the park and the Pavilion, where Helen Hunt shot some scenes for As Good As it Gets. Ryan’s mother died, his father survived, and Ryan himself—who had a history of mental illness, several arrests, and orders of protection against him from relatives—survived a subsequent leap in front of a G train at the nearby 15th Street station.
The house went up for sale in February, and since its listing price has been lowered twice, each time by $100,000. (The current asking price is $1.29 million.) The Times asked its readers, would you live in a death house? As one neighbor put it, “In the cold world of New York City real estate, does that matter?”
Opinion seems split between the superstitious and the cold realists. The latter could be summed up by a comment from Angela M., who wrote, “A house is just that, a house. Whatever happened in it doesn’t seep into the walls and stay there to affect the next owner.” (A commenter called echo adds: “They weren’t murdered for living there.”) The psychically able V. Alvarez, though, relates this story: “In 2003 I was house hunting in Bed-Sty Brooklyn and was shown a fixer upper limestone building. Once inside I ‘felt’ a weird energy and my buying partner did as well. As we entered the basement/ground level of the building the ‘weird’ energy was even stronger that I had to ask the real estate agent ‘what’s the story on this house?’ I was told it was a former funeral home and the ground level where we were standing was where they did the embalming. Okay, next I told the RE agent. So no, I would not purchase a home where a killing took place.” Several commenters offered similar anecdotes; others, like the pithy E, simply wrote, “Absolutely not – I could not do it.” (There’s a practical argument, too; as carts67 puts it, “it is not what occurred in the home that is preventing a sale, but the fact that Ryan Devaney is still awaiting his trial. Knowing his sentence surely would provide more comfort to anyone living in that home.”)
Judging from the house’s difficulty in finding a buyer, the superstitious seem to be winning, which troubles The Windsor Terrace Blog’s Mary. “Hopefully someone who can look past it will come through soon,” she writes, “and help give the place some new, happier memories.”