BATH TOWNSHIP, OH (WOIO) - A sign out front says home for sale, in the Akron area. It's nice, secluded, lots of property, little pricey at just under $300,000. Listed with Stouffer Reality. The pictures of the inside on the realtors website show hardwood floors, updated kitchen, even a pond. If you're really interested you're going to have the foundation checked, the roof, plumbing and electrical checked. But have you checked everything?
There's a new website available to check out your home.
For $11.99 per search, they'll search to see if anyone has ever died, committed suicide or been murdered in your home or a home you're about to buy.
They have a database of more than 118 million public and private files but note: they do not claim to have all records.
But surely you don't need a site like this. Surely if you're about to purchase a home the seller or realtor must tell you there has been a murder on the property. Ohh no, not in Ohio.
"No there is no statutory provision in Ohio that's been adopted by the legislature that requires the seller or a real-estate agent or broker to disclose that to a buyer," says Peg Ritenour, Vice President of Legal Services for the Ohio Association of Realtors in Columbus. She says it's up to the seller if they want to disclose that information, but they don't have to.
"I really don't know that most buyers want to know that information," says Rirenour. "Then what type of death do you have to disclose? Is it just a murder or suicide? What about natural causes? And then also it raises the issue of how far back do you have to go in making that disclosure."
Now back to that property on West Bath Road in Bath Township. 19 Action News Reporter Dan DeRoos typed in the address and our result summary,
"Died in house did find information relating a death to this address," DeRoos reads from the website results page.
In full disclosure we knew they would find something. You see this property is the childhood home of Jeffery Dahmer. Yes, that Jeffery Dahmer the serial killer. The first of his 17 murders was at the Bath Township home in 1978. Talking to bath township police Dahmer was 18 at the time, picked up a hitchhiker, 18 year-old Steven Hicks. Inside the house Dahmer hit him with a dumbbell and strangled him before dismembering him in the crawl space of the house, crushing his bones with a sledgehammer and scattering the bones around the property.
DiedInHouse found these results fairly easily although most of their records are from 1990 to present. When you get your report the only thing that's a little confusing is the section marked 'known owners, residents and associated people reported as deceased'. It doesn't mean they all died in the house you're searching. You see they search everything, and tell you if they have found some who lived there once, who is also now dead. The owner of the company, Roy Condrey says they do this because, "The list of names allows future buyers to have some information in hand verses no information."
At that point you could ask the realtor about those names, and if the realtor knows, they have to tell you. But you would have to ask. Think of it like asking for a car fax report but for dead people in houses, not dents in bumpers.
We should mention DeRoos did talk with the Stouffer realtor who's currently listing the Dahmer property. He says when he's contact about the home he immediately tells prospective buyers about the history. He said it's just the right thing to do, even though he's not required too. He also says it saves a lot of time from people walking out in the middle of a showing.