If you knew three people had been killed at a house, would you buy it?
Brian Betts wouldn’t have bought his Silver Spring, Md., home had he known that a man and his daughter were killed there.
Betts, the popular principal at Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School, was found dead in an upstairs bedroom in his home April 15, 2010. He’d connected with the gunman who killed him, Alante Saunders, the previous day via a social chat line. Saunders and two other teenagers went to Betts’s home with the understanding that the door would be left unlocked, police said. They entered and Saunders went upstairs. He pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced to life with all but 40 years suspended.
When Betts bought the two-story brick colonial at 9337 Columbia Blvd. on July 2, 2003, it had already been the scene of a double homicide. On Aug. 6, 2002, a 9-year-old girl was pistol whipped and shot and killed at point blank range by a man who’d broken into the house. Her father, Gregory Russell, was shot six times and also died.
Betts was unaware of the house’s history when he bought it, and he tried to get out of the deal when he found out.
“He was saddened, he was shocked, he was upset and did everything he could to rescind the purchase of this house,” said Betts family attorney Rene Sandler.
But he couldn’t get out of it. In Maryland, real estate agents aren’t required to tell potential buyers if a murder had taken place there.
So Betts arranged for two ministers to bless the house to erase any lingering evil.
Since his death, Betts’s family has surrendered the house to the bank.
“If the Betts family had their way, they would have bulldozed this house, they would have done a memorial permanently for Brian K. Betts,” Sandler said.