August 19, 2012

Does a landlord have an ethical obligation to disclose that the previous tenant died in the apartment you're thinking of renting?

The NYT ethicist thinks the obligation is "seemingly obvious" or even "compulsory." He's responding to somebody who wasn't informed before signing the lease and now finds it "unsettling and slightly disturbing" to know that the previous tenant died. Of an overdose. Not a murder, just an overdose. A forgotten man slipped away through the portal to the beyond that exists within that rental unit... and everywhere else on the face of the earth.

This last week, we've been driving quite a distance across that face. Maybe an eyelid's expanse of earth-face. Much of the eyelid has been Montana, where the Montana American Legion has been carrying out its White Cross Highway Fatality Marker Program since 1953.
The unique idea of marking fatal traffic accident sites with a white cross was the brain child of Floyd Eaheart, a member of the American Legion Hellgate Post #27, Missoula, Montana; after six lives were lost in the Missoula area over the 1952 Labor Day Holiday. The safety program started out as a county and later district project for the Missoula American Legion Post. However, the idea was so good that it was soon adopted as a statewide program. The Montana Highway Commission (now Department of Transportation) approved the program in January 1953, with the blessing of the then 13th governor of Montana, J. Hugo Aronson (the Galloping Swede)....

The program is intended as a highway safety, not a memorial program.  Still, many families place wreaths or other decorations on the white crosses, which may be considered a memorial to a loved one lost in an accident.  Obstruction of the white cross with these decorations defeats the purpose of the safety program.  
You appropriate an individual's death for your message of traffic safety, with the state's approval, and you don't like when the people who loved that person pile on a message of their own. Either it's a speech forum, where viewpoint discrimination is banned or it's the state's own speech, and it's an Establishment Clause violation (unless the courts say it's not).
The white crosses serve as a public service message, reminding drivers to “Please Drive Carefully.”  They are a sobering reminder of a fatal traffic accident, a place where a human being lost his/her life....

Not all highway fatalities are marked.  Due to a federal ruling, white crosses are not allowed along interstate highways.
Here's some discussion of the case. I don't see what the interstate has to do with it. The Constitution applies off the off ramp. But the crosses are all over the place in Montana, reminding us where people have died. How unsettled the skittish NYT reader might feel, driving in Montana, knowing about all that death. Or perhaps it's soothing to see so few doorways to oblivion have opened up in the years since 1953. Half a century has gone by and yet there are long spaces on the road that have never swallowed a human being. Often you can traverse an entire eyelash on the face of the earth without seeing a white cross.

Seeing the white crosses, I wonder about the places where there has been death. What if you could — everywhere — see who (and what) has ever died on that spot. How covered with death would the earth be? I'm blogging in the breakfast room of a Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck, North Dakota. Am I sitting on a dinosaur carcass?

102 comments:

Palladian said...

I'm blogging in the breakfast room of a Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck, North Dakota. Am I sitting on a dinosaur carcass?

Never mind a dinosaur, someone probably choked to death on a western omelette at your very table at some point.

Pogo said...

It'd be like the Amityville Horror, except the only thing that would happen is you'd suddenly find a bunch of pills on the table.

pm317 said...

What if you could — everywhere — see who (and what) has ever died on that spot. How covered with death would the earth be?

Interesting post. I agree death happens. But it is one thing to visit various parts of the earth where death may have happened and then to live for many years on the spot where it happened. Some things are better not known. Don't ask the question if you don't like the answer.

MadisonMan said...

So when Dad sells his house, is he obligated to say that Mom died there?

I don't think so. People do die. Get over it.

Hagar said...

What's the price of a sleepover in the Lincoln Bedroom these days?

Titus said...

You are at a Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck?

How not fab.

Have you seen any people of color on your trip?

Dear Lord, I'm sorry.

yashu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yashu said...

What if you could — everywhere — see who (and what) has ever died on that spot. How covered with death would the earth be?

Palladian cited The Shining in the previous thread, it's apropos again here. Every Holiday Inn is an Overlook Hotel.

rhhardin said...

They ought to subtract out highway births.

Titus said...

How much does it cost to stay in the Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck?

I am guessing something like 59.99.

Are there no Four Seasons in Bismarck?

Or any 5 star lodging?

I am breaking out just thinking about a Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck. It sounds so flyover.

I wonder what it is like to be a fag in North Dakota. My sense is awful.

Tim said...

We bought our house from the estate of a woman who died in the house.

In fact, she died in the very room I'm typing this in.

She was 98 and, near as I know, she died of natural causes.

It didn't bother my wife or I then, or now - but it is a fun little thing with which to tease my easily freaked out daughters.

Otherwise, no, the landlord/real estate agent doesn't have an obligation to disclose a death in the house/apartment, notwithstanding any legal obligation to do so.

People can be real pussies about stuff like this.

Titus said...

Oh, and natch, the NY Times is awful. We have to say that anytime they write any story.

Bad NY Times, very very bad! And very very bad people who read it, very very bad people.

edutcher said...

Isn't this the hook for one of Stephen Crane's short stories?

Craig said...

I've got a book on the history of Manila during WWII which estimates that more than 100,000 people died in my neighborhood when the Japanese Imperial Army withdrew and retreated north during the Battle of Manila in 1945. The only pitched tank battle in the war bigger than the Battle of Manila was the Battle of the Bulge.

I live in a twenty story high-rise built the year Marcos departed. It's next to an art deco ten story building that was the tallest building on the street when it went up in 1930. As far as I can tell it's the only building on the street that survived the war. It still had tenants less than five years ago, The outer wall surfaces are pocked and pitted with what could easily have been bullet rounds or shell craters, though nothing serious enough to have damaged the building's structural integrity. Survivors of the battle in my neighborhood would most likely have been considered collaborators.

Ann Althouse said...

"How not fab."

You should read about the oil boom up here. Maybe the guys working in this enterprise are fab. How would you know?

We're fans of the state capitals, but the truth is we're en route somewhere and doing something special (to us) today.

Roger Sweeny said...

This is why I love you. Who else would have brought these ideas together? And in a way that is both thoughtful and interesting?

Ann Althouse said...

"Have you seen any people of color on your trip?"

We went through the Blackfeet Indian Reservation yesterday.

Ann Althouse said...

And we've seen some extremely tanned motorbikers.

edutcher said...

Craig said...

I've got a book on the history of Manila during WWII which estimates that more than 100,000 people died in my neighborhood when the Japanese Imperial Army withdrew and retreated north during the Battle of Manila in 1945. The only pitched tank battle in the war bigger than the Battle of Manila was the Battle of the Bulge.

For the American forces, maybe, but not bigger than Kursk.

Yamashita wanted to leave Manila and make his fight in the mountains, but Admiral Iwabuchi wanted to make a stand and it destroyed the old city. Manila was the only urban battle of the Pacific war and it highlighted the viciousness of the Japanese as they took out their frustration at losing on the Filipino civilians.

It's said a million died during the war, many during the liberation of the islands.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm blogging in the breakfast room of a Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Should have said this before, but careful on the road.

Looks like you had a lot of fun this week.

GPE said...

I'm blogging in the breakfast room of a Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck, North Dakota. Am I sitting on a dinosaur carcass?

I don't know about any dinosaurs, but my cousin, Ernie, told three jokes in a row that died in that breakfast room. Are you at the second table from the door on the right? If so, you're sitting on dead jokes.

Eeeeeuuuuwwwwwww....

Synova said...

My second oldest just moved into an apartment in fargo where someone was murdered with a hammer.

I suppose that some people would have a problem with that. I'm always shocked at how many people who would never be so backward as to believe in God believe in psychic this and ghost that and feel proud of how open minded they are.

Obviously this doesn't include my second oldest. ;)

John said...

I practice Real Estate in NY and the law specifically says that disclosure of death is not required. Same thing if the previous owner had AIDS, disclosing that in fact can be discrimination.

Ron said...

"Death is Nature's expert advice to get plenty of Life" -- Goethe

MisterBuddwing said...

From the I-Think-I-Once-Heard-This-on-the-Radio Department: Someone who had experience selling houses said that he was not automatically obligated to tell a prospective buyer than someone had died in the house, but that if the customer were to ask, he had an obligation to be truthful.

Another story, possibly apocryphal: A man rented a New York City apartment where the previous tenant, a woman, had been murdered. He showed up to take possession of the unit, and found all of the victim's belongings were still there - clothes in the closet, dishes in the cupboard, etc. And there was fingerprint powder everywhere.

(Aren't there people whose job it is to clean up crime scenes?)

Craig said...

I ate at Burger King a year or two ago and asked an elderly gent if I could share his table. He'd returned to the Philippines a few years earlier after a long career as a physician on Long Island. He said he was a little less than ten years old, living in Leyte at the end of the occupation. Five or ten years after the war, he said, if you went to the beach just before dawn you could see the Japanese troops doing close order drills just as they had during the war, but they'd disappear when the sun came up.

AaronS said...

Is the ethicist just Ann Landers for NY Times readers who fancy themselves scientific? And just imagine all the weird body fluids from all the weird circumstances that are all over every apartment in NYC? Ignorance is a gift our brain is willing to deliver.

yashu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yashu said...

Agree with Roger Sweeny, this post is a great piece of writing.

James said...

My second oldest just moved into an apartment in fargo where someone was murdered with a hammer.

I suppose that some people would have a problem with that. I'm always shocked at how many people who would never be so backward as to believe in God believe in psychic this and ghost that and feel proud of how open minded they are.

Obviously this doesn't include my second oldest. ;)



It makes them spiritual...

Mary Martha said...

There was a killing in my apt building a few years ago. A domestic thing and the killer was promptly caught.

I called my landlord and said 'You are going to have a hard time renting that unit. How about I move over there for a substantial discount'. He agreed and I saved a ton of cash. Win win!

Though I will admit I invited a priest over to bless the place - doesn't hurt, might help.

The Crack Emcee said...

Does a landlord have an ethical obligation to disclose that the previous tenant died in the apartment you're thinking of renting?

Only if what they died from was contagious,...

YoungHegelian said...

There's a house in my neighborhood that has had three people murdered in it on two separate occasions. It is now up for sale again.

The first murder was of a man and his daughter. Apparently, the killer broke in to rape the daughter, and dad was home, so he just killed them both (apparently, a "friend" of the family). He was arrested and found guilty a few months after the crime.

The house was then bought by a guy who didn't know about the murders. When he finds out about the murders he freaks out to the real estate agent, who gets a priest in to exorcise the home (I'm not making this up).

It turns out that the guy who bought the house was a nice, very popular middle school principal who just happened to be gay and was into having sex with street toughs. He had an encounter at the house that went terribly wrong and was murdered by his pick-ups. They arrested those guys, too.

So, now the house has been unoccupied for at least 18 months, and has swapped owners twice.

Of course, the real estate agents have no legal requirement to tell prospective buyers about the history of the house, but between google and the neighbors, I think a good part of the world now knows about the house's history.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

How much does it cost to stay in the Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck?

I am guessing something like 59.99.

Are there no Four Seasons in Bismarck?

Or any 5 star lodging?


Very few hotels/motels in flyover country are infested with bed bugs compared to the 5 star lodgings in New York or San Francisco.

:-D

If the local natives can prove that an Indian died or pooped on the land at some nebulous time in the past thousands of years, all construction can be stopped. See how powerful the dead can be!!!

Rob said...

Am I sitting on a dinosaur carcass?

The jokes just write themselves, Ann.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Does a landlord have an ethical obligation to disclose that the previous tenant died in the apartment you're thinking of renting?"

No. Our people are silly about death.

Every. Single. Person. Dies.

People like to pretend that's not true or like it's some foreign idea off somewhere else, as though death were weird.

Rather than pretending we, the living, can segregate ourselves from death by constantly distracting ourselves from it or choosing to be ignorant of it, a better course might be to accept it and contemplate what it means for life.

Synova said...

(Aren't there people whose job it is to clean up crime scenes?)

The son of a friend of mine in California worked for a crime scene clean up service. Looked like a football player or else a convict.

I gather that there are specific requirements to cleaning up blood and they did more than just crime scenes. Haz-mat stuff. They got paid particularly well, too.

But the police aren't going to pay for it. Has to be the building owner or insurance.

Paco Wové said...

"We went through the Blackfeet Indian Reservation yesterday."

Yeah, but what about the rest of their bodies?

Gabriel Hanna said...

Up until the 60 years virtually everyone died at home. If that creeps you out don't buy an old house.

I wouldn't like to live where someone had been murdered, but other kinds of death don't bother me so much. But I'm superstitious about "decent burial" and I couldn't live in a house in which, for example, human bones were discovered in the cellar. I don't believe in ghosts but I am terrified of them.

Shana said...

James said, "It makes them spiritual..."

When somebody tells me they are "spiritual, but not religious" I run away as quickly as I can, before they get their gullible Oprah cooties on me.

Paco Wové said...

"However, the idea [memorial crosses] was so good..."

I would dispute that. It has led to endless numbers of driver-distracting crosses littering the roadways of America, which, as Althouse notes, are just an invitation for people to decorate and elaborate them, making them ever more garish and distracting, so what started out as a scenic road becomes a morbid route of death. "Honey, you've got to see this beautiful view! And 5 cars went over the edge here since 1978!"

Is there any evidence that these things actually make the roads safer?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Synova:Has to be the building owner or insurance.

Or the family of the victim.

The Crack Emcee said...

Shana,

When somebody tells me they are "spiritual, but not religious" I run away as quickly as I can, before they get their gullible Oprah cooties on me.

ROTFLMAO!!!!

A friend of mine, also female, told me she immediately thought of me when a blind date told her that.

She, too, then ran away.

I was honored,...

Dust Bunny Queen said...


Is there any evidence that these things actually make the roads safer?


When I see them [roadside shrines to an accident] usually on a big pine tree that someone went head to head with, or at a sharp curve that someone took too fast.....I generally am suddenly more aware of my own driving and how fast I am going. I start to pay more attention.

Is it working. I dunno. I'm still alive :-)

Palladian said...

I spent my childhood and teenage years playing and doing my artwork in a basement where my aunt committed suicide in the early 70s, three years before I was born. I don't recall anything unsettling about it, other than the occasional dampness.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

AaronS said...

And just imagine all the weird body fluids from all the weird circumstances that are all over every apartment in NYC?

One wonders what the odds are of finding an existing apartment under 10 years old in NYC that's never had a death. Or office space for that matter.

Sheridan said...

According to WIKI, about 106 billion people have ever lived.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

I believe the question should not be who and what died on a particular spot on the earth. Rather, while alive, where and how far did people travel? And how did they interact with others who were on their own travels? Was death the primary result of those interactions? Or the creation of new social linkages and even new life? Fascinating stuff if you're willing to let your mind wander.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Is it me or do all of those questions in that column sound like they were written by Margaret Dumont?

Gabriel Hanna said...

In the last place we rented we discovered, just before our lease was up, that the previous tenant had died while living there. He did not die in the house, but in the lake adjacent, drunk boating at night.

The neighbors also knew of course but didn't tell us until we were moving away.

DADvocate said...

No. I assume someone may have died in any residence that isn't new.

What about a hotel in which a serial rapist is preying on women guests in their room? My wife and I stayed at one such place in Baltimore about 23 years ago. No warnings whatsoever from the staff/hotel. Six months later we were watching 60 Minutes or 20/20 and saw where that hotel, during the time we stayed there, had a man raping women is their rooms while posing as a maintenance man for the hotel. No warnings. We were there for an occupational therapy conference. Occupational therapists, as a group, are probably 80-90% female.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

that the previous tenant had died while living there

Everyone dies while living someplace.

It might be interesting or make a difference to you to know if he had been hacked to death in your bedroom and shoved down the garbage disposal in your kitchen.... but otherwise....who cares. Why should anyone bother to tell you anything about the last tenant.

virgil xenophon said...

The pre-Civil War home we bought in "Old Louisville" was the former original family residence of the society editor of the Courrier-Journal. She was born in it and died in it. We had a nice elevator("elevette") that she put in when she was too infirm to make the stairs any more. Was in the corner of the dining-room and went up to the den off the master bed-room on the 2nd floor. Great when one came back tired from a long trip late at night--one didn't have to lug the luggage upstairs..

Ipso Fatso said...

I live near Wrigley Field. The Cubs die there every year and yet 35,000/day show up to cheer them on. Oh well.

wyo sis said...

Titus
What is the price point for fab?

Amexpat said...

The NYT transportation report never learned how to ride a bike or drive a car. Not surprised the NYT ethics expert doesn't have a practical sense of ethics.

Methadras said...

I'd like to know that someone passed away in a space that I might buy or rent. Granted, people die everywhere all the time at different times, but I'd like to know even still.

bagoh20 said...

Of all the things former renters did in the apartment before you got it, dying is unlikely to be the nastiest, unless they took a long time to move out afterward. My rule is: If you can't smell it, it didn't happen.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann Althouse,

"Have you seen any people of color on your trip?"

We went through the Blackfeet Indian Reservation yesterday.

ROTFLMAO!!!

Let's follow that up with:

Have you seen any people of color on your trip - that were worthy of having their picture taken and posted here?

I mean, you know I'm not big on the race thing, but considering you're traveling America - looked at from a certain angle - one could imagine you and Meade were attending a Klan rally,...

caplight45 said...

Palladian said...
"I spent my childhood and teenage years playing and doing my artwork in a basement where my aunt committed suicide in the early 70s, three years before I was born. I don't recall anything unsettling about it, other than the occasional dampness."

That dampness was the tears of remorse that your aunt cried on the "other side" because she never got to know you.

Chip S. said...

looked at from a certain angle - one could imagine you and Meade were attending a Klan rally...


Not from this angle.

Synova said...

"Have you seen any people of color on your trip - that were worthy of having their picture taken and posted here?"

I saw pictures of them, and pictures of scenery. Lots of mountains and flowers and rocks.

I didn't see pictures of a whole lot of white people. Did you? There was the biker fellow who was asked if he minded a picture and one fellow standing next to a boiling mud pot... and a white guy in a "stupid human" picture is better than a minority photographed being stupid... different message there, don't you think?

I'm picturing then stopping at the Indian reservation and requesting to take pictures... "Hey sweetheart, look! Real Indians! Pull over so I can get pictures."

Seriously?

Synova said...

I went on vacation lately and I'm pretty sure that all the pictures I took that had people in them not only had white people in them, but Norwegians.

Might be hard pressed to find a brunette except that my youngest dyed her hair black.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Have you seen any people of color on your trip - that were worthy of having their picture taken and posted here?

Imagine this. You are on a vacation and some white guy and gal come rushing up to you ...."Ooooh oooooo....can we take your picture so we can prove that black people really do go on vacation and visit public parks. [as if you were some sort of exotic animal or something] Stand over there and smile for the camera!!!!....Cool now if we can just track down some Asians and maybe even a Mexican or two....we will have bagged the whole spectrum. Bears, Buffalo and now a real live Black man in the outdoors!!!!"

LOL.

Shawn said...

When my wife was studying for her Real Estate License in California, she said that California requires a seller to disclose a death in the house except for one case. There is no need to disclose if someone died of AIDS.

The Crack Emcee said...

Chip S.,

looked at from a certain angle - one could imagine you and Meade were attending a Klan rally...


Not from this angle.

A black guy, sitting alone in a sterile environment, as though the entire world has isolated him? Really?

That's America to you?

Dust Bunny Queen,

Imagine this. You are on a vacation and some white guy and gal come rushing up to you ...."Ooooh oooooo....can we take your picture so we can prove that black people really do go on vacation and visit public parks.

You couldn't stop at "Can I take your picture?" I mean, come on, black people like to dress up, decorate their cars - you name it. Or, put another way, do you know why there are more black people on my site than here - even though I don't play the race angle?

Because I see them - and I see them as part of the American family, good or bad, just like the Holy Roller Biker Dude.

As Titus said, "Dear Lord, I'm sorry."



Robert Cook said...

I can't imagine why it would even occur to a landlord to inform a prospective new tenant that the previous tenant of an apartment had died in the space, much less why there would be any presumed obligation for them to do so, "ethical" or otherwise.

I would also assume any prospective tenant who might have qualms about such matters is not, ahem, a very seasoned New Yorker. Given the paucity of desirable, affordable apartment space in the city, New Yorkers determined to get an apartment they want would probably insist on helping dispose of the body and clean up any mess if they thought it would insure their getting the space!

AllieOop said...

What are the chances of someone having died in the hospital bed you may be laying in? Or rested their heads upon the hospital pillow you use.

Just puttin' that out there for thought.

Chip S. said...

That's America to you?

No, that's Montana.

Really. First you bitched about there being no blacks in the pix. When proven uttterly fucking wrong, you move the goalposts to not enough blacks.

How about you just chill for a while?

AllenS said...

Some years ago an elderly lady and some younger people stopped out here. The older lady said she had grown up on my farm until they lost the place during the depression. I invited everyone into the house, and we eventually moved to this room (now, the computer room). Pointing at the north window, she recalled that that's where her grandmother, after she had died, had been placed for viewing for the wake.

Then, she turned around and pointed to the wall and said: "This is where my father embalmed her."

Can you imagine that?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You couldn't stop at "Can I take your picture?"

Of course I could have. But then, I wouldn't have been able to illustrate the absolute absurdity of demanding that Meade and Althouse have racial quotas in their vacation photos.

AllieOop said...

Allen, look closely at the floor, those strange stains you thought could've been antifreeze stains.....

garage mahal said...

How about you just chill for a while?

Okay that made me laugh hard.

Not only will you not see a lot black people in Montana, you won't see a lot of people in Montana, period. I drove for hours through parts of Montana where I didn't see a single car.

MisterBuddwing said...

Meanwhile, over on Yahoo:

"Ala. man fights to keep wife buried in front yard"

http://news.yahoo.com/ala-man-fights-keep-wife-buried-front-yard-153303814.html

jimbino said...

A reasonable person has an ethical obligation to ignore the religious and superstitious or at least make life unbearable for them. That means deliberately NOT advising the sicko that somebody died there or was murdered there.

Hell, in Glenwood Springs, the hotel on the corner by the Doc Holliday bar has a plaque that advises that "Doc Holliday died here." That hasn't kept reasonable folks away (and who wants to patronize a bar or hotel with religious and superstitious people anyway).

Kirk Parker said...

We rented a house once from the owner, and former occupant, who had probably murdered his wife there. (No, of course we didn't know at the time.) I say "probably" because he was never convicted of the crime--I forget if it even went to trial--but the insurance company brought a civil suit and prevented him from collecting her life-insurance proceeds, so on a preponderance-of-the-evidence basis he done it.

Paddy O said...

A black guy, sitting alone in a sterile environment, as though the entire world has isolated him? Really?

Well, that's the image you keep projecting about yourself...

Hell, in Glenwood Springs, the hotel on the corner by the Doc Holliday bar has a plaque that advises that "Doc Holliday died here.

Like in Tombstone, Arizona. There are plaques and signs all over pointing to where so and so was shot and died. Many of the same fellows could be seen walking around and occasionally participating in staged gunfights, so I didn't really believe the signs.

The one place where a place of death really hit me was when I visited Fredericksburg during a month long road trip around the country after high school. There was a sunken road where a major skirmish was fought. This picture of what it was like back then was there to look at as you stood in that spot.

Eustace Chilke said...

Jack Vance created a religion in one of his novels whose followers believed that every square millimeter of the Earth's surface was composed of atoms formerly incorporated into the bodies of sentient, soul bearing beings and was therefore sacred. Adherents were required to traverse their precincts walking on a suspended network of ropes to avoid sacrilege.

I've always been slightly irked by the highway cross thing. Grave sites are traditional memorial places. How many memorial places must now be maintained for victims of auto accidents? Regardless of the original intent, survivors treat these places as memorials. What are the rules? If you litter one of them is it vandalism? Can you remove them to mow? How long do you leave them up? Do new ones have precedence over old ones? It's a bit ridiculous.

Paddy O said...

So, when I was in 4th-5th grade, my family lived in the hills above Santa Barbara. No, not in the rich section near Oprah, in regular sized home that happened to be a bit backwoods in location (well water, cesspool, etc.) but did have an amazing view of the ocean and city from a couple thousand feet up.

Anyhow, while we were living there in the mid-80s, some guy killed his parents, sister and a few other family members in a house that was just below the hill we were on, maybe a mile or so away. Last year I was looking, on a whim, at houses for sale in that area, and found one listed on a few real estate sites that looked absolutely delightful. Had a creek running through it and was on a large shaded lot. Big old barn that was converted to a workshop. Great looking place.

It seemed familiar to me, though, even after 25 years. A bit of sleuthing revealed that yes, that was the place that the guy slaughtered his family, saying aliens told him to do it.

That fact wasn't mentioned on any of the real estate listings.

Paddy O said...

Just looked it up now, and it did get sold. If someone googles the address, they can see the listing and an LA Times article from 1985.

Paddy O said...

(sidenote: that's the same street that Reagan's ranch is on, though it's ten miles or so away and there's a long stretch of unmaintained road in between)

ampersand said...

The guy I bought my house from had an amputated leg. I tell guests that the leg still haunts the house.
If you hear thumping in the night it is Arthur's leg searching to rejoin Arthur and it will not rest again until someone is kicked hard in the ass.

wyo sis said...

Making it an ethics question changes it from whether it's legal or not.
Ethically, if the seller knows something about the property is dangerous or will create an unhealthy environment they should disclose it and allow the buyer to make their decision with full knowledge. So, if the reason you are moving out is because you don't want to live where someone has died, you should disclose that.

Big Mike said...

I agree with MadMan at 10:34. Does it make a difference whether the previous occupants of a house or apartment died in bed in their sleep or died in the hallway or died in a hospital? Being born human has a 100% mortality rate.

Big Mike said...

On the other hand, I am ambivalent about the white crosses. On the one hand anything that distracts one's eyes from the road is a potential problem. On the other hand, one or more white crosses suggests that there is something inherently dangerous and one should concentrate a little harder.

There's a corner I used to pass on my way to work (back before my group was moved to a different office) with four carefully tended white crosses, often with wreaths around Easter or Christmas. From time to time the Washington Post publishes the back story about four teenagers who died at that corner in a horrific accident.

rehajm said...

In the 1990's while I was pulling my car on trailer behind a U-Haul truck, I nearly died driving off the road while I was counting the crosses at one of these roadside memorials. Not sure that's what the Montana Highway Department intended...

MadisonMan said...

"Ala. man fights to keep wife buried in front yard"

What, she keeps trying to crawl out of the hole, and he keeps throwing dirt on her?

A. Shmendrik said...

When I was living in GA there was fellow who on multiple occasions erected a memorial in the median of I-16, near Savannah, the site of an accident that took the life of a member of his family. The problem was that he was constructing the memorial out of brick, and it had the appearance of a red brick backyard barbecue grille from the 1950's. I'm not sure how to estimate its weight, but it would be quite a substantial thing to hit with your car if you drifted off the road and plowed into it. Out of deference to the poor fellow and his state of grief it was removed once with a warning, a second time with a fine, and as he attempted to build it for a 3rd time he was arrested and prosecuted.

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

People die and lots of people die at home. Both my parents died in their home 46 years apart. So what? Why would the next owner/tenant care? Why would anyone make a point of it? Seems dumb to me. In fact, all 4 of my grandparents and all 8 of my greatgrandparents died at home.

Synova said...

"That hasn't kept reasonable folks away (and who wants to patronize a bar or hotel with religious and superstitious people anyway)."

Who wants to sit at a lunch counter with a negro anyway.

Prejudice and bigotry is what it is.

The Crack Emcee said...

Chip S.,

First you bitched about there being no blacks in the pix. When proven uttterly fucking wrong, you move the goalposts to not enough blacks.

How about you just chill for a while?


I didn't bring it up, Titus did, so somebody else has noticed it as well.

And excuse me if that one guy, eating his lunch alone, was so far away I couldn't even tell he was black. Considering that, as far as I'm concerned, it still comes down to the same thing. Hell, if Titus didn't know it, and I didn't know it, it can hardly count as a photo featuring a black person at all. Or maybe I should rephrase again:

Have you seen any people of color on your trip - that were worthy of having their picture taken so you can *clearly tell* there were people of color on your trip?

Simon Kenton said...

"Poor old voice of eighty crying after voices that have fled!
All I loved are vanish'd voices, all my steps are on the dead."

Tennyson, Locksley Hall After 60 Years

The Crack Emcee said...

Dust Bunny Queen,

You couldn't stop at "Can I take your picture?"

Of course I could have. But then, I wouldn't have been able to illustrate the absolute absurdity of demanding that Meade and Althouse have racial quotas in their vacation photos.

It's not a racial quota. It's an acknowledgment of reality. I've traveled this country - just got back from a trip to Texas not too long ago - guess what? There were black people almost everywhere I went. I know that because I notice them. Many times, they were some of the most fascinating people in these small towns, because they stood out.

Look, I've been on this blog long enough to know many of you guys aren't comfortable with race unless it gives you a reason to discuss hating Obama, crime, or reverse-racism, or whatever your racial hobby horse is on any given day, but I don't hold it against you and it has nothing to do with what I'm saying.

I'm talking about actually seeing where you live, and the people in it, without all those issues revolving around them. I can see white people - where are we to you? Or are we only walking issues?

I figure Titus brought it because he's with an Indian dude, but do white people have to be, to be aware of others?



Titus said...

Althouse, I know about the Oil Boom about there but it aint getting me to actually go there and see it.

Oil boom doesn't sound that fab to me...personally.

I want creative economy not oil boom economy people around me. The creative economy peeps make me feel safe and secure. Oil boom....not so safe and secure.

But I am very happy for North Dakota.

Talk to me when they become a high tech, biotech, healthcare, startup hub. If Zipcar, Hubway, Facebook, Google, Travelocity, Linkedin, Yelp, Genzyme, Biogen, Alkermes relocate there my ears will listen.

Also, the winters.....

And lastly the peeps. I need swarthy people of color to oggle.

Titus said...

Crack, I may even oggle you if I see you working the runway outside my penthouse.

I like all colors, and yes I a married the Indian dude, but I do enjoy the colored man: I have done every Latin Country-South American, Central America, Carribien, Trinidad Tobago, Jamaica, Haity, Nigeria, Somalia, Rawanda, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Sudan, South Africa, Compton, Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan-and I thank all of you from the bottom of my white midwestern heart. You flyover white women don't know what you are missing.

It is so forbidden and hot and maybe even a little dangerous, but you know sometimes when I have had it it has actually been very vanilla and boring....but the dangerous and thugged out experience make up for it.

Thank you blacks for giving me some of the best sex ever.

I don't care for chinkys though. Small hogs and boring sex.

I am a whore for exotic dark hog.

And if they are carrying my bags at the airport, or parking my car at the garage or working on my car I am more excited.

wyo sis said...

We can always count on Titus to class up the place. Apparently the price point for fab is at gutter level.

John Lynch said...

Everyone dies. We have to die somewhere.

Why do we spend so much time trying to avoid the truth?

What's Althouse going to do with the blog when she dies?

I'm sure comments have been left here by people who are now dead. Should that be disclosed?

The only reason we are alive is because others have died.

Revenant said...

Or, put another way, do you know why there are more black people on my site than here - even though I don't play the race angle?

You mean there's a place on the internet where you don't play the race angle? Weird.

Seriously, though, you labor under the delusion that your skin color makes you inherently interesting. You should reflect on that.

Col Mustard said...

I just went Atlantic to Pacific and back. Almost 6K miles. Stopped to get gas and pee once a day. Didn't think to take any pictures except of old friends I stayed with along the way. Who knows what color the people were in the gas stations and McDonald's?

One big miss, though. Running on empty, I pulled in at the pumps outside of Gallup, NM about 10 one morning. After getting the gas, I pulled behind the station and buried my head in the trunk, looking for something.

Heard no one approach but was startled by, "Excuse me, Sir..."
When I turn around, the first words out of the guy's mouth were, "You scared the shit out of me. I was afraid you were going to hit me in the face."

I laughed. He laughed. Looked like he'd been hit in the face a bunch of times or just done a lot of face-plants in parking lots outside of bars. Articulate, intelligent guy. No attitude. Sense of humor. I'm thinking I'm in a Cheech and Chong riff.

Anyway, he says, "To make a long story short, we're trying to get some money to buy something to eat and get more beer. I'm not so friendly to panhandlers but he touched me and I gave him a 20 and said if I didn't have so far to go, I'd join him for a couple.

Wish I'd thought to take a picture of that guy.

yashu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Lee said...

"How much does it cost to stay in the Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck?
I am guessing something like 59.99."

Wow... how long has it been since you've been anywhere? 20 years? I'm guessing somewhere between 120 and 140 dollars.

carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nathan Alexander said...

@Titus and Crack,
So is it wrong to travel through Montana because there aren't enough "people of color"?

What is your solution? Fine Montana until they get a population that "looks like America"? Force black people to move to Montana?

Before you try to imply that Montana is somehow racist, or that the % of white people implies KKK membership, I'll point out that Montana is actually more racially integrated than the US as a whole:

Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 2011
Montana: 2.4%
US Average: 2.3%

Ben said...

I lived in a house that was haunted for a dozen years or so. My Dad had heard strange noises and seen odd things and he eventually sold it off. A few years after he sold it he bumped into a couple local guys at the ball diamond (small town) who had also owned that house. All the rest of them had seen things too and never told anyone about it and only talked about it when they were together and someone brought it up.

I think not disclosing a house is potentially haunted is worse than a person maybe died there.