The attached garage and large living room window are the best assets of the ranch home for sale on Ramsdell Drive in Apple Valley.
Curb appeal is enhanced by a new roof, cobalt blue paint, and shrubs so new they have tags. The interior improvements are even better, with an overhauled kitchen and baths, an added bedroom, and shiny new floors. List price: $279,900.
Lorray and Lawrence Tupy live next door. So do Judy Prochnow and husband Collin. No renovation can fix what they feel every time they look at the old home of David, Komel, and Raniya Crowley. But a bulldozer might.
It's going on two years since David murdered his wife, Komel, and their 5-year-old daughter. He was an amateur filmmaker of modest YouTube fame who'd cultivated a following with his trailer for Gray State, a movie he hoped to make about societal collapse, pitting the citizenry against a corrupt federal government hell-bent on destroying individual liberties.
Thoughts of Raniya haunt Lorray. "She had energy just flying out of her. I would pull up in the driveway and she'd fly up next to my car, saying, 'You're home! You're home!' and clap her hands and jump up and down.…
"Just a delightful, gifted, smart child, and she's gone."
In the eerie calm after the crime, the house hibernated. Notices on the door later signaled it had fallen into foreclosure. Still, save for the lawn service guy, no one paid a visit.
Neighbors knew what they wanted to happen. They wanted the structure demolished. Last summer they approached Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland, asking for her help. The house belongs to the bank, not the city, she said, according to Lorray.
Conversations among neighbors shushed early in 2017. The bank had found a buyer, which likely meant it wouldn't be leveled. The new owner didn't stick around long. The house was flipped within days. Dakota County records show it sold a second time this year for tens of thousands of dollars below the $227,000 assessment. The property tax statement lists the current owner as Neighborhood Rehabilitation, a company in Prior Lake.
Contractors hit the rehab project hard starting in the summertime. The for-sale sign went up in August.
Judy has been inside twice since the tragedy. It was almost unrecognizable, with new appliances and satin paint from floorboards to ceiling. Still, the energy remained unchanged from her previous visit some months after the bloodshed. Sadness lives there, she says.
"It felt empty," says Lorray. "Emptiness everywhere. I was feeling like, where is that beautiful little girl? But there was no life. Just empty."
The women have noticed that the online listings and real estate pamphlets fail to mention the house's tragic history. Minnesota law doesn't require such a disclosure to prospective buyers, the owner told Judy, because he's the property's second owner since the crime. According to Judy, he said only the first must disclose things like murder or other material facts. State statute doesn't mention different disclosure rules for subsequent owners.
Messages left at Neighborhood Rehabilitation were not returned.
The neighbors estimate 30 prospects have been by. Lorray doesn't go out of her way to tell them about the Crowleys, but she doesn't keep quiet if they ask questions.
"'How long has this house been empty?' That's the question I always get," she says. "When I tell them that, the next question is why.
"It just bothers me because I think somebody's going to end up buying it and doesn't know anything about it. It's one thing if they buy it and know the whole history. It's another if they do and have no idea what happened. That's going to be sad."
- The strange and tragic demise of a Minnesota filmmaker and his family
- Guns, meth, and murder in small-town Minnesota
- Derek Hexum, Charged in Double Murder, Was Just Sentenced in Another Attempted Killing
- Dead Woman's Float: How a Man Landed Behind Bars After His Wife's Mysterious Death
- Jim and Cathy Hively's alleged murderer Derek Hexum headed for trial in March