Ariel Castro 'house of horrors': will it be demolished?
Six notorious homes destroyed to keep ghouls away: will 2207 Seymour Ave, Cleveland, Ohio join them?
THERE is growing speculation that the house where Ariel Castro allegedly kept three women captive for a decade – 2207 Seymour Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio – will be demolished. Castro's neighbours, outraged by ghoulish sightseers and continued media attention, are threatening to burn it down if the city doesn't act. Bringing in the bulldozers once police have finished gathering forensic evidence might seem extravagant – but it won't be the first time. Here are six other notorious addresses already demolished or with destruction imminent:
18 Victory Road, Derby. It is only five weeks since Mick Philpott, his wife Mairead and their accomplice Paul Mosley were jailed for burning down Philpott's council house in the middle of the night and killing six children, but the property is already destined for demolition, according to Derby City Council. Since the children's deaths in May 2012, the boarded-up house has attracted mawkish 'death tourists', many of whom keep leaving toys and flowers. The council plans to bulldoze the house and the unoccupied council house next door, and an online petition is calling for a memorial garden. Council leader Paul Bayliss said, "Who would want to live in a house where six children have died?"
12205 Imperial Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio. Well before last week's rescue of Ariel Castro's kidnap victims, Cleveland already had a 'house of horrors'. This was the address where the 'Cleveland Strangler' Anthony Sowell, 51, tortured, raped and murdered 11 women. Their bodies - some bound, decapitated, or wrapped in plastic – were found when police visited in 2009 to investigate a rape claim. Sowell was black and his victims were black and poor, with a history of drug abuse. The house was demolished in December 2011, razed to the ground before dawn while a largely black crowd chanted, "No justice, no peace". Cleveland police were criticised for not taking neighbours' warnings seriously enough – hence their sensitivity to similar accusations in the wake of the Seymour Avenue discovery.
5 College Close, Soham, Cambridgeshire. This was the house where Ian Huntley, a 29-year-old school caretaker, murdered ten-year-old schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. It was "discreetly demolished" in 35 minutes in April 2004, observed in silence by local policemen and officials. Holly and Jessica's mysterious disappearance was front-page news in August 2002. Huntley was interviewed on television outside his house, saying: "I don't know the girls." It later transpired he had invited them into his house and killed them. The rubble from the property was taken away to a "secure location" and crushed to dust. The total destruction of the house was "a relief", according to the head teacher of the Soham Village College where Huntley worked.
25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester. This was the home of Fred and Rose West, where in 1994 police found nine bodies of young women and girls buried in the garden, under the patio and inside the house. Neighbours interviewed a year later still could not believe their "genial neighbour" was a serial killer who had tortured, raped and murdered at least 11 victims and abused his own children. West hanged himself in his prison cell in 1995 while he was awaiting trial. Rosemary never confessed but was found guilty of 10 charges of murder and remains in jail. The house was destroyed in 1996, every brick crushed, to dissuade macabre souvenir-collectors. The space is now used as a public walkway, with no memorial, and no prospect of a house being built in its place.
16 Wardle Brook Avenue, Manchester. The home of Ian Brady and his girlfriend Myra Hindley, "the Moors murderers", was destroyed in 1987. The couple killed five children between July 1963 and October 1965 at this address and buried them on Saddleworth Moor. The case was re-opened in 1985 when Brady bragged about killing two missing children. A fourth grave was found only in 1987. Brady was judged "criminally insane" and for 13 years has tried to starve himself to death. Hindley was dubbed by the press "the most evil woman in Britain" and died in 2002. The Sun reports one neighbour saying "there have been people from China, America and Canada" wanting to see the spot where Brady lived. There is still a gap where Brady's house used to be and "they take photos of the gap".
10 Rillington Place, Ladbroke Grove, London. This was the site not only of multiple murders, but also of a tragic miscarriage of justice. Serial killer John Christie strangled to death at least eight women and one baby between 1943 and 1953 and hid the bodies in the house and garden. Timothy John Evans, Christie's tenant, was wrongly found guilty and executed in 1950 after the first discovery of bodies. When a strange smell was detected under the kitchen floor by a new tenant, Christie was arrested, tried, and hanged in 1953. The house was demolished by men with pick-axes in October 1970 (see video below), an event billed by a local paper as the 'Fall of the House of Horror', but only after the location shooting had finished for /10 Rillington Place/, starring Richard Attenborough and John Hurt. There is a nondescript garden where the house once stood.