Notorious Homes: Local Woman Discovers Shocking Secrets Inside Her Home

- ROCKFORD -- What lies inside your home's walls? Many in Rockford have secrets waiting to be uncovered, but sadly not all are good.

"We purchased the home in 1988," said Kathi Kresol, a Rockford resident.

Kathy Kresol points to the place she once spent a decade of her life; an old home tucked away on Rockford's west side.

"it was perfect," said Kresol.

But not for long.

"There were periods in the house where the energy, where the vibes weren't really good," Kresol said. "It was a little more negative feeling."

Feelings that were impossible to ignore. So Kresol began grilling neighbors with questions after one of them suggested the home had a dark past.

"What did you mean when you said somebody was killed in the house? What do you mean? Did they fall down the stairs?" asked Kresol. 

The answer was smack dab on the front page of a 1958 newspaper.

"Not only was there a murder, but there was a murder suicide and that was, it was like just such a shock that that happened in the house that I was living in."

Kresol isn't the only homeowner to find out the dark history hidden in houses like hers. That's because legally, listing agents in Illinois do not have to disclose whether there was a death in a home. That includes death by natural cause, or death by murder.

Even at the Simon Peter Nelson home in Rockford. Nelson murdered his 6 children inside back in 1978. Since then, numerous people have lived there. Neighbors say on at least one occasion the buyers didn't know about the gruesome history. But others have, and one family even had the house blessed several times.

Keller Williams real-estate broker, Kelly Wolf, says homes with grisly pasts aren't necessarily off putting to every buyer. 

"Stigmas are suggestive," said Wolf. "What might be a stigma to one buyer, may not be a stigma to another buyer."

But Wolf adds, buyers agents do have an obligation to who they represent.

"If they know for a fact that the home has some stigma, they do have a duty to share that with their buyer," said Wolf. "With stigmatized properties, it's probably better to disclose something and head off any of those dicey situations, complicated situations later."

A complicated situation that sent Kresol digging deeper.  She found out the victim in her house was a 28-year-old woman. Her name was Geraldine Bourbon, and she was shot and killed before her ex-husband turned the gun on himself. The scene played out in the upstairs of Kresol's home.

"I was pretty startled when I found, you know, pictures of the house and what happened in there," said Kresol. "It shook me, it shook me up pretty bad at first."

Partially because Kresol says she had so much in common with the victim. Both had young families, both moved around a lot growing up.

"Being the same age as she was at that time, it just really, I felt that connection," Kresol said. "I felt like I needed to know more of the story."

And that led her to a Roscoe cemetery.

"When people are murdered, everybody remembers the murderers but they don't remember the victims very much, and so that was kind of my thought process, and feeling this kinship with her, I felt like I needed to tell her story."

But it's not just Geraldine's story she's telling now.

"I was so interested in telling Geraldine's story that it's, it spurred on the want to do this and find out more about things that have happened in Rockford."

Her fascination with history and the paranormal have bubbled over into a booming business. It's called "Haunted Rockford."  She takes people on tours of notorious places throughout the stateline. 

"I truly believe that people, places and things can be haunted."

But once the tours are done, Kresol says she's always thankful a haunted house is not something she has to come home to anymore.

"As much as people like to go and be scared a little bit, I don't think they want to live like that."

"Would you ever want to live something like that again?" asked Christie Nicks, Eyewitness News reporter.
"No," replied Kathi.

If you're interested in finding out more about Kresol's "Haunted Rockford" tours, click here.

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