John Weinrich's parents fell in love with a stunning, one-of-a-kind 19th century home in affluent Wyncote, Pa., but never knew it had a grisly past until the real estate deal was close to settlement.
Just a year earlier, in 1986, Isma'il Raji Al-Faruqi, a distinguished Palestinian-American and Islamic professor at Temple University, and his wife, Lois Lamya, were slashed to death in their 323 Bent St. home by a religious fanatic.
Their pregnant daughter was also attacked and required 200 stitches, but both mother and baby survived. Police later determined it was a political assassination.
"The guy snuck in the back window on the Islamic holy day and ate cherries and spit them out as he waited," said Weinrich, now 48. "Around midnight, he went after the wife and basically decapitated her with a Bowie knife."
Today, Weinrich, who runs his own real estate company, is charged with selling the property that saw so much violence.
He said his parents weren't "really concerned" about the house's dark past, though they bought two guard dogs and a security system before moving in. They also brought in the Catholic priest who married them to "bless" the house -- inside and out.
"We looked at it as a tremendous opportunity and we got it reasonably priced -- $239,000," he said of the eight-bedroom, five bath home. "The character and craftsmanship was irreplaceable."
He hopes buyers will look beyond the bloody crime to see its Gilded Age charm and grab it at a good price in a bad economy -- $589,000.
Most people get the spooks from a house with a violent history, even if they don't believe in ghosts.
"There are old superstitions and magical thinking and also illusory association," said Frank Farley, a Philadelphia psychologist who lives in the Wyncote neighborhood. "If a murder occurred in a place, it could occur again. They think, 'I don't want to risk the horror.'
"That space is enormously important to people -- home is where the hearth is, where we grow up and we are created and defined," he said. "To have the lingering shadow of the heinous violent crime, some people don't want to emotionally deal with it."
Real estate agents refer to such houses as "stigmatized properties" -- any place where a murder, suicide or sex crime has taken place.
The Boulder, Colo., home has sat empty since it was sold in 2008 by Tim Milner and his wife, Carol Schuller Milner, the daughter of televangelist Robert H. Schuller.