1. The Axe Murder House (Villisca, Iowa)
J.B. Moore and his family, including two visiting relatives, were murdered in this home by an intruder on June 12, 1912. The case remains unsolved, but suspects at the time included a traveling preacher and then-U.S. Senator Frank F. Jones. Jones was a business partner of Moore’s, and the two had bitterly parted ways in the weeks before the murder. The landmark Villisca Axe Murder House now operates as a museum…a fate not uncommon to properties too spooky for residential use.
2. Gardette-LaPrete House (New Orleans, Louisiana)
This Greek Revival is the site of one of the most gruesome mass slayings in New Orleans history. In the late 1830s, wealthy plantation owner Jean Baptiste LaPrete bought the pink French Quarter residence as a vacation home. Soon after, he added the trademark wrought-iron lace rails to the balconies and set out in search of a renter to occupy the property when he wasn’t using it himself. A rich young man from Turkey answered LaPrete’s call and moved in with a tremendous entourage, complete with a harem and eunuchs. The house became renowned for its mysterious parties, which neighbors experienced in the music and incense escaping through cracks in the door. One morning, a passerby noticed something less pleasant escaping from under the door. It was blood. Authorities entered the house to find everyone within dismembered and mutilated. The renter, who came to be known as “The Sultan,” was buried alive in the courtyard. While pirates have been blamed for the murders, it is theorized the Turk was the brother of an actual sultan, who ordered his male relatives executed in an effort to eliminate competition for the sultanate.
3. Rehmeyer’s Hollow; Hex Murder House (Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania)
Three members of the Pennsylvania Dutch community found themselves in a simultaneous rut of bad luck. They believed themselves to have been hexed by one Nelson Rehmeyer. Hex-clearing called for the burning of the alleged witch’s spell book. What started as a visit to retrieve the book turned into one of the country’s most sensational murders. On November 27, 1928, the three men strangled and beat Rehmeyer to death when he refused to comply with their demands. In an effort to cover their crime, they tried to burn the house down. But, the fire died quickly, leaving plenty of evidence pointing to the killers. It is said that the spirit of Nelson Rehmeyer haunts Rehmeyer’s Hollow, also called The Hex House, which opened as an historical exhibit in 2007. For the rest of the houses, go to thisoldhouse.com