Is Your House Haunted by a Decades-Old Murder?

Find out on LAMag’s map of notorious killings in residences around L.A. and feed your curiosity with the new season of ”Murder House Flip”
409

Home is where the heart is—but for some, their home is the heart of a grisly crime scene from years ago. 

From a daughter shooting her mother after years of built-up tension to a TV star stabbed on her doorstep by a stalker, Los Angeles is home to some of the world’s most gruesome crimes. But once the tragic scenes are cleaned up, the killings aren’t entirely erased. These murder houses often must re-enter the real estate market and are sometimes purchased by an unsuspecting new owner. 

Scattered across L.A., these murder houses might be any innocent-looking dwelling in your area—even your own. LAMag’s interactive map pinpoints major murders that occurred in houses all over L.A. to answer a question you may have never asked: Are you living in a home haunted by a heinous history? 

This happens to be the grim premise of Roku’s Murder House Flip, where the show’s hosts help reclaim homes and spaces where murders took place. Designers Mikel Welch and Sarah Listi resurrect the tainted houses by sprucing up their interiors and exteriors with new furniture, paint, and decor; the show returns for a second season on August 12.

Executive Producer Josh Berman says he came up with the show’s concept while writing and producing for the series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. One episode in particular, in which a skeleton is discovered in a home that’s on the sales market, got his mind rolling, he says. Then, when co-creator Katherine Ramsland revealed to Berman the shocking number of people residing in these murder homes— homeowners who may not even know of their residence’s grisly past—the two figured that they had a winning concept on their hands. 

“The idea was, how could we heal those homes, bring peace to the homeowners, and to the community? And that was the birth of Murder House Flip,” Berman says. 

When Welch’s agent first pitched the show, he says the concept was so bizarre to him that he wasn’t sure it was even real. After attending an audition, he found himself allured by its unique premise and he joined the show for its first season, which aired in the now-defunct Quibi. After seeing Welch’s success with the concept, Listi joined for season 2 and fell in love with the concept—though she notes, “It’s definitely a little out there.” 

While Listi is experienced in do-it-yourself home projects and Welch has spent years working in interior design, for both, renovating former crime scenes was a whole new game. Rather than immediately sitting down to talk about paint swatches, Welch notes that there is a psychological aspect to renovating murder homes, as residents are working to overcome not only their issues with the space itself but with the remnants of a murder. Berman echoed the sentiment, noting that tackling heavy concepts is what sets the show apart. 

“The renovations in this show are more emotional than any other makeover shows,” he says. “We’re not just talking about changing the countertops or bringing in a better light fixture. We’re talking about how the stigma has affected the current homeowners and how we can lift that stigma.”

It’s only after the hosts figure out the emotional needs of the homeowners in their new space that they can begin to make the necessary changes. 

“Once we get past the murder portion, now we go to work,” Welch says. With Listi working to make everything functional and Welch ensuring it is visually appealing, the two balance each other out for the perfect renovation.

Along with adding furniture and redoing color schemes, the hosts find themselves scrubbing blood out of the floorboards and adding window coverings for privacy to give the homes a fresh start in just a few days. Overall, Welch says, “Our main goal is to make sure that we are turning this space into something that looks nothing like what the homeowner had before.”

The show, like the best home makeover shows, is all about the reveal. Welch and Listi say they have yet to catch any glimpse of disappointment from owners in the reimagined homes. Emotional outbursts from the homeowners and even their neighbors give Berman and the hosts a sense of gratification, he says. Their work lifts a “dark energy,” he adds, and everyone involved views the homeowners’ tears of joy as the mark of a job well done.

And showing off the renovated space is the best part of the entire process. 

“There’s something so surreal about being able to really change somebody’s home in such a fundamental way that gives them a whole new perspective on what they’re living in,” Listi says.

Their efforts raise one question, though—would the hosts ever move into a murder house themselves? Welch’s answer may surprise you. 

“I have two words for you: hell no,” he quickly responds. 

If you have an open mind and a passion for true crime, you should scour LAMag’s interactive map for the murder house of your dreams. 

Murder House Flip season 2 premieres August 12 on Roku.

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign for our newsletters today