A look at San Diego County's infamous houses

Posted at 9:36 AM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-05 12:36:06-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego County is home to some of the most infamous houses in the country, with many deemed notorious because of the grisly murders, mysterious suicides, and eerie accidents, that have taken place there.

10News Anchor Kimberly Hunt took a look into these homes' dark pasts and found emotions and anger are slow to leave, long after the stains are removed.

The Rancho Santa Fe mansion where 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult, dressed in identical black track pants and Nikes, methodically killed themselves in shifts over three days in 1997, is the site of the largest mass suicide ever on United States soil.

Dr. Randall Bell, an international real estate appraiser who has traveled the world evaluating properties after natural and man-made disasters, spoke to 10News about the Heaven's Gate home.

Although he was hired to appraise the murder homes in the cases of Charles Manson, Versace, O.J Simpson, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Benet Ramsey, Bell said the Heaven's Gate home stands out as the "most bizarre case" he's ever seen.

Bell said evidence of mind control were everywhere. Each item in the house, no matter how small or insignificant, was labeled. Followers of Marshall Applewhite no longer needed to think for themselves; they followed their leader to their deaths believing they would shed their human shells and catch a spaceship trailing the Hale-Bopp comet to a better world.

Another mysterious death home on the global list of strange occurrences is the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado.

In 2011, the owner's six-year-old son Max Shacknai fell from the second-story banister while under the care of the owner's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau. Max died a few days later from his injuries and Zahau was found bound, gagged and hanging from a second-story balcony.

Although Max's death was ruled an accident and Zahau's a suicide, her family has always maintained that she was murdered. The Zahau family's civil lawsuit against the owner's brother, Adam Shacknai, is currently underway in a San Diego courtroom.

Even though nearly three decades have passed since a La Jolla socialite named Betty Broderick entered the home of her ex-husband and his new wife and opened fired as they lay sleeping, the residence where the double murders took place is still remembered as the scene of the violent murders which have been the subject of a book and a movie.

Bell said he tracked multiple sales of the home since the murders, and "the listing price has not gone up as much as the market trends."

Bell applauds the buyers of these notorious homes for lifting up the neighborhood, bringing it forward positively and giving it a new energy.

Bell has witnessed the reactions of so many people during and after disasters that he began to study responses and how they ultimately determine a person's success.

He found there were similar traits among those who make it through the confusion and build a solid foundation to thrive. He describes the formula in his book "Me We Do Be" -- it's quality thinking, quality relationships, actions that build productivity, and designs for the future.

Sage advice from the man who’s been called the Master of Disaster, Dr. Randall Bell. More on him and his book: