In many ways, the recent newspaper listing reads like any other ad publicizing an upcoming real estate auction – in this case a three-bedroom, 960-square-foot house at 6254 N. Independence in Park City.
“Home is in what appears to be good condition,” it says in Sunday’s Eagle.
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But the ad also notes something out of the ordinary: that the home is linked to a murder committed in 1985 by the serial killer known as BTK. Dennis Rader sneaked into the home of Marine Hedge, his 53-year-old neighbor just down the street, and strangled her. That’s what he would tell a judge in 2005 after his capture. Twenty years after the crime, he still could recite the address of Hedge’s house, the home now going to auction.
Jack Newcom, the local real estate agent and auctioneer handling the sale, said Tuesday that the seller is disclosing the killing took place in the house to make sure that any potential buyer has no problem with its past.
“We have respect for the family that lost the loved one,” Newcom said. “We’re trying not to profit from the misfortune, just trying to get the property sold and move on.
“It’s nothing we’re trying to capitalize on but were just trying to do our due diligence,” to let potential bidders know, so “if they do (have a problem with it), don’t bid on it,” he said.
The auction is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 27. There is no “reserve” price, so the house will sell to the highest bidder, he said.
The current owner has lived in the home for at least several years and bought it before Rader’s arrest in 2005, Newcom said. The house wasn’t known to be connected to the serial killer, who called himself BTK for “Bind, Torture, Kill,” until after Rader was caught, Newcom said. Newcom doesn’t think the owner even knew when she bought it that someone had been killed in the house, he said. Once she knew of the killing, the fact didn’t bother her, he said. “She’s not selling it because of any of those emotions or feelings.” She wants to join family who live out of state, he said.
Newcom said he’s gotten a few calls about the house but has not sensed that anyone is interested in buying the home because of its past.
“It’s a decent little house,” he said. “It will make someone a wonderful home. That’s what we want to try to project, if we can.”
The ranch-style house, built in 1954, has a Sedgwick County property tax appraisal value of $59,400, according to property records on the county’s website.
The former Hedge house isn’t the first BTK-related house on Independence Street to go to auction.
Rader’s house down the street sold at auction in 2005, and it wasn’t your typical sale. It was held around the time he pleaded guilty to 10 murders stretching from 1974 to 1991. The serial killer’s small home sold for $90,000 – $33,000 more than the appraised value. The winning bidder: an exotic-dance-club owner familiar around Wichita because of her late-night commercials. For that auction, the media showed up, and police blocked off Independence Street to limit curiosity-seekers.
Later, the sale fell through after the title couldn’t be transferred. Park City bought the Rader house from his former wife for a little less than $60,000; the money was transferred from an anonymous donor to the city, Park City Administrator Jack Whitson said Tuesday.
The city demolished the killer’s house to keep curiosity-seekers away, Whitson said.