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'It's the little kids that come back to haunt you'

By
SUSAN SHRODER

NORFOLK, Neb. -- The two houses are only 10 blocks apart.

One is roped off, its windows boarded. Signs warn trespassers to keep out. The other is for sale, but potential buyers are not interested.

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Both are on tree-lined streets in quiet neighborhoods, surrounded by other modest, well-kept houses. Both were the scenes of mass murders, homes where nine people met violent deaths within 15 months.

At 110 Michigan Ave., what was to be a Labor Day house-warming party turned into tragedy, with four people slain and a fifth dead by his own hand. Police, friends and neighbors are baffled.

At 125 E. Park Ave., Stella Almarez, apparently despondent over her husband's love affair, killed her four young daughters.

The Almarez home has been on the market for 13 months, but there have been no takers. A real estate agent indicated some potential buyers think the house is haunted.

'We've shown it to an awful lot of people,' Cal Hendrix said. 'We assume it's because of the little children more than anything else. I don't think people (would) worry so much had it been a grownup.

'It's the little kids that come back to haunt you.'

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The other house was rented only a month ago to Gina Lawrence, 20, Watertown, S.D., who had moved to Norfolk with her mother to find work. A neighbor, Deano Chapman, remembered Gina calling a friendly 'Hi, neighbor,' as she moved in.

She was shot to death, along with two friends who were visiting from South Dakota. A man she had been dating shot himself after telling police he stabbed to death another man at the house. Who killed the other three remains a mystery.

Boarded windows prevent the curious from looking into the blood-stained house, described by a state patrol investigator as a 'very, very gory scene.' Neighbors said a steady stream of people drove by the home after the Sept. 5 killings.

'Some sat there and stared for an hour,' said Nellie Stachura, who lives next door. 'They stare at you as bad as they stare at the house.'

Mrs. Stachura said she is glad she and her husband, Lambert, had planned to move out of the neighborhood in a month when their lease was up.

'That's too scary to live so close to something like that,' she said. 'Every noise I hear I could jump out of my skin. It's just the idea that it's sitting there empty.'

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