Halloween Real Estate: Real Haunted Houses

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Visiting haunted houses is a Halloween staple. People pay to walk through buildings to experience spookily costumed characters, eerie sounds and ghostly apparitions. Most of these haunted houses are just dressed up for the occasion, but there are some homes in the U.S. that visitors say are haunted year-round, by the sound of baby cries or the specters of deceased residents who just don't want to leave. (Also see: "Is Listed Home a Crime Scene? How to Know Before You Buy.")

Here's a look at some of the real haunted houses -- that is, if you're a believer. Some of them are even currently for sale:

Amityville Horror House
, Amityville, N.Y.

The five-bedroom Dutch Colonial on Ocean Ave. is where six members of the DeFeo family were murdered in 1975 at the hands of one of their own. The 23-year-old Ronald "Butch" DeFeo, carried a .35-caliber Marlin rifle into the bedroom where his parents were sleeping. He shot his father first, and then his mother. Two shots each. He then killed two brothers and two sisters over the next few minutes.

The property (pictured above) became notorious through the Oscar-nominated 1979 film, "The Amityville Horror," which portrayed the blood-curdling experience of the subsequent owners, the Lutz family, who moved in a month after the gruesome tragedy, and out again 28 days later.

The paranormal activity was reportedly mild for the Lutzes and nothing like the film's portrayal. The family said they experienced cold spots and odors, to the sounds of footsteps and doors closing.

"I'd be lying in bed and I'd hear the front door slam shut," George Lutz told author Jeff Belanger. "It's an unmistakable sound in that house -- you absolutely knew that was the front door. I'd go downstairs and the dog would be asleep at the door, nothing would be disturbed, and the door would still be locked. So you start questioning yourself."

The home recently sold to a family that moved in just before Halloween.


Kell House
, Wichita Falls, Texas

This home-turned-museum, where two deaths and four funerals occurred, is said to have doors that open and close on their own, and muffled conversations are heard in otherwise empty rooms.

Guests in the gardens have said that someone was watching them from an upstairs bedroom window, even when no one was in the house. The staff receives regular late night calls from the security company noting that a light was turned on during their rounds.

It's said that past residents linger around the house (pictured above) to keep watch over it. In 1980, Miss Willie May Kell was 92 when she passed away unhappily in the home she had lived in for 71 years. In her last months she was confined in a hospital bed in the master bedroom when she really desired to spend her last days in the red room, a bedroom that she had as a girl, but the medical bed would not fit. Lula Kemp Kell also died in the home on Sept. 16, 1957 – 15 years and 364 days after her husband, Frank Kell.


Lalaurie House, New Orleans

The haunted history of the Lalaurie House in the French Quarter goes much deeper than Nicolas Cage's loss of the home last year in foreclosure. A ghostly tale dates back to 1832 when Dr. Louis Lalaurie and his wife, Delphine, moved into the Creole mansion on Royal Street. The house was attended to by dozens of slaves, whom Mrs. Lalaurie treated cruelly. Some say she kept her cook chained to the fireplace in the kitchen. Neighbors at the time reported that maids would be replaced with no explanation or a stable boy would suddenly disappear -- never to be seen again.

One day a neighbor heard a scream come from the Lalaurie home and saw Mrs. Lalaurie chasing a little girl, her personal servant, with a whip. The girl ran to the roof of the house and jumped to her death.

In 1834 a fire swept throughout the kitchen. Firefighters arrived to find more than a dozen slaves chained to a wall or to makeshift operating tables. Others were confined in small cages. Human body parts were scattered around, with heads and human organs found in buckets.

The New Orleans Bee reported that all of the victims were naked, some with fingernails ripped away, eyes poked out, and private parts sliced off. Some had their mouths were sewn shut or limbs severed. Most were dead, but some were just barely alive when firefighters found them. The Lalauries fled, and while it was vacant for many years, people claimed to hear screams of agony coming from the empty house and see the ghosts of slaves walking the balconies and yards. Cage paid $4 million for the house in 2007. Regions Financial Corporation purchased the foreclosed property for $2.3 million on Nov. 13, 2009. It was later sold to a man from Houston, Texas.


Kimball Castle, Gilford, N.H.

This 3,980-square-foot haunted castle, a historic landmark, is said to be filled with ghosts, especially in the kitchen of the carriage house. The sounds of horses are said to be heard in an abandoned barn on the property and a light in a sewing room mysteriously turns on and off.

Set atop 24 acres, the five-bedroom, three-bath house built in 1897 is the former estate of railroad magnate Benjamin Castle, who died in 1919. The home (pictured left), which was featured on an episode of "Ghost Hunters," is currently listed for sale for $995,000 by Coldwell Banker.


Lizzie Borden House
, Fall River, Mass.

Well known by the childhood chant, "Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks; when she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41," the Borden house was the scene of two brutal crimes in August 1892 that actually remain unsolved. However, daughter Lizzie was the prime suspect in the deaths of her stepmother and father, who actually received 11 blows to the head with a blunt object.

Lizzie went on trial for the murders and was found not guilty. Now a bed and breakfast, the entire house can be rented exclusively for up to 20 people, for family gatherings, wedding parties and corporate outings, for $1,500 per night. If you choose to stay here, know that some people say they have heard the ghosts of Abby and Andrew Borden roaming the rooms.


The Surgeon's House, Jerome, Ariz.

A National Historic site, the Surgeon's House (shown at left) is also said to be host to apparitions. Built in 1916 for the chief surgeon of the town hospital next door, this Spanish-style sanctuary became a bed and breakfast in 1992, where not all of the guests are registered travelers.

Some visitors have encountered a ghost of a maid called Alice, who wears a blue uniform dress and is seen in the maid's quarters.

The owner of the Surgeon's House reportedly has seen a spirit of a man wearing a suit and carrying a doctor's bag walk into her master bedroom. He changed clothes into pajamas and then faded into thin air as he approached her bed.

Other guests have witnessed the spirits of a couple dancing together for several minutes on a moonlit night.

This 4,400-square-foot house, listed for sale at $1.2 million, has five master suites, each with their own bathroom, original hardwood floors and an expansive living room with fireplace. There is a chauffeur's cottage and live-in maid's quarters. The manor also features exterior sitting areas with pathways and ghostly gardens.

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