Dentoning….the death house

I told you that I’ve had many unusual experiences in my life……….I’m going to write about one of them. I moved with my family to Anchorage, Alaska from Colorado in late Oct. 1995. Right around Thanksgiving that year, a 15 year old boy shot and killed his father and stepmother in their home on “the Hillside” in Anchorage. This was horrible, but I really didn’t pay too much attention to the story because I was looking for a house, learning the town and flying around the State with my job as a pharmaceutical rep.

As it turned out, this disturbed kid had a detailed plan to solve a temporary problem (whatever it was) with a permanent solution. The house they lived in was a split level with the parents and one brother upstairs and the perp’s room downstairs. On the night before what the kid had designated death day, he set his bedside alarm for 1:30am and turned out the light. His plan was to wake up, kill his folks, and drive “Outside” (what Alaskans call anywhere but Alaska).

The kid (I’ll call him Lee) couldn’t sleep (go figure) and at about 11:30pm took a .22 rifle upstairs to commit the unimaginable. When he opened his parent’s bedroom door, he saw his father asleep, but his stepmother awake, reading a book on “troubled teens”. Realizing his dad to be his strongest opposition, he shot him a couple of times before discovering that he had not fully loaded the pump-action rifle.

When Lee went downstairs to reload, his father, who was not mortally wounded, went to the kitchen and dialed 911. As the father told the 911 operator what was happening, Lee came back up the stairs and shot his father to death. He then turned back to the master bedroom and his stepmother. During Lee’s trip downstairs, she had gone into the bathroom located in the master bedroom and locked the door. Lee shot through the door several times before forcing his way in and shooting her to death in the bathtub.

With his plans dashed due to his father alerting 911, Lee dressed, wandered around the surrounding woods, went to his girlfriend’s house for breakfast, went to school and was subsequently arrested there.

A couple of weeks after the murders, I drove up the snow/ice covered roads of the Hillside, still looking for a house to buy. As I ventured up, I began to notice “Estate Sale” signs on the side of the road and immediately knew that I was close to the death house. I decided to check out the sale since most of our things were still on the way from Colorado. I pulled into the driveway, not knowing what to expect. I went in the house and ended up buying several things. The father was about my size, so I bought his skate-skis, a wetsuit, and a few other things.

I looked around the house and of course was curious, but it didn’t bother me that two people had died there just two weeks before. I really liked the house. It backed up to the Chugach National Forest and had an incredible view of Cook Inlet and Anchorage from the front.

11481 Doggie Ave Anchorage, Alaska

11481 Doggie Ave
Anchorage, Alaska

The adult children of Lee’s stepmother were running the sale and I asked what they intended to do with the house. They told me that they were meeting with a realtor the next day and that if I was interested, to come by while the realtor was there. I left and later that night brought my family up to see the house. They loved it.

The next day was a typical, sunny, frigid…… icy day at the top of the Hillside. I arrived at the house on Doggie Ave and was greeted by the brother and sister, along with their realtor. We took another tour of the house, this time with damage caused during the murders brought to my attention. There really wasn’t much to see…….a stain on the kitchen floor, a hole in the carpet taken as evidence and several tiny holes in the door of the bathroom in the master bedroom.

According to Alaska State law, anytime a violent death occurs in a house, it has to be disclosed before the time of sale. With that law in mind, the four of us sat on the empty living room floor and started haggling. After talking to my wife the night before, we knew that we wanted the house, so the agreement happened very quickly.

The brother/sister/realtor knew they had a house that was “damaged” and might be difficult to sell. I knew and didn’t care. It was the perfect house for my family and in one of the most beautiful areas of Anchorage. We reached an agreement contingent on my house in Colorado selling and moved in about a week later.

All the physical damage was repaired before we moved in, other than the bathroom door holes. I repaired those and you couldn’t tell anything unusual had happened. My sons were very young at the time and were not told about the history of the house until years later when we moved to a larger home. My wife and I had no problem with what had occured there, I guess we’re just not the “spooky” type.

One reminder of the murder did occur on New Year’s Eve that year. As I sat in the living room, halfway watching the news on TV, 8 feet from where the father had died, I was startled as I saw two body bags removed from my house. The local TV station was doing a recap of all the major news of that year, and the double murder was the top story…..

Lee was convicted of the senseless killings and is now in a prison overlooking Resurrection Bay outside of Seward, Alaska. I’m not sure if he has a cell with a view, but if he does, it’s probably the most beautiful view of any prisoner in the US, and I’m sure, a constant reminder of three wasted lives.

No matter what your views on gun control, it is my opinion that mental health is a huge part of the whole picture.

Enjoy life and enjoy Dentoning……………no matter what.

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