Crime Scenes: A Killer Attraction for Visitors

America's Most Notorious Real Estate


Aug. 29, 2006 —  If you're looking for a beautiful five-bedroom, Tudor-style mansion with breathtaking mountain views, has a listing for a place at 749 15th St. in Boulder, Colo.

Don't bother asking for directions. Just follow the ongoing parade of camera crews and gawkers.

The listing for JonBenet Ramsey's home — for sale at under $1.8 million — doesn't mention that this is where the little girl was found strangled to death in 1996, just after Christmas.

It could be expected, however, that prospective buyers would find out soon.

To be sure, the media zoo on the front lawn is subsiding, now that charges against John Mark Karr for JonBenet's murder have been dropped.

The steady stream of curiosity seekers, though, won't go away any time soon.

There were certainly plenty of visitors in the decade after the murder leading up to Karr's televised confession earlier this month.

The Ramsey home is just one of many crime scenes and infamous locales that are now listed in guide books for tourists.

"The public spends time reading and watching news reports about these incidents that, after a while, you want to see them for yourself — not unlike a lot of historical sites you can visit," said Chris Epting, author of such guides as "James Dean Died Here," "Elvis Presley Passed Here" and "The Ruby Slippers, Madonna's Bra and Einstein's Brain."

Epting's travel guides document all sorts of pop-culture landmarks, from the murder scene where O.J. Simpson's ex-wife and another man were stabbed to death, to the New York hotel were Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to smoking pot.

The Questionable Value of 'Stigmatized' Realty

Private homes that have become grisly crime scenes are often regarded as "stigmatized" real estate, and the value of the property is often diminished.

However, the sites of some famous homes have actually risen in price.

Last year, the Modesto, Calif., bungalow once occupied by convicted double murderer Scott Peterson and his slain pregnant wife, Laci, sold for $390,000 — $10,000 more than Laci's parents had been asking for the place.