Driving past the house at 805 W Linden Street in Boise, Idaho, it’s hard not to stare. Covered in a layer of soot, with windows broken and boarded up and trash strewn about the yard, the 2-story, 2,728 square-foot Craftsman-style home looks like an abandoned horror movie set. The true story, however, is much scarier.
Known commonly as the Boise Murder House, the home is also sometimes referred to by locals as the Chop-Chop House, a glib reference to the gruesome homicide that took place there more than three decades ago. In the early morning hours of June 30th, 1987, 37-year-old Daniel Rodgers and 31-year-old Daron Cox shot and killed 21-year-old Preston Murr in the basement of Rodgers’s home at 805 W Linden Street. The two men then used an ax and knife to dismember his corpse, wrapped the pieces in plastic bags, and drove to the Idaho-Oregon border to dump the body parts in the Brownlee Reservoir. Horrifying as the facts of the crime are, there is one detail more haunting than the rest: Murr almost escaped.
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According to court documents, an altercation broke out around midnight between the three men and Murr was shot in the shoulder by one of the two others. Having somehow managed to flee the home, he ran to a nearby house and banged on the door begging for help, but no one answered. The neighbor inside did call the police, however. He reported hearing pounding on his door, as well as someone screaming “let go of me,” followed by an anguished yell. Peeking out his window, he saw someone chasing Murr, eventually catching him and dragging him back into the basement of Rodger’s home, where he was fatally shot in the back of the head.
Though police never responded that night, they were called again the next morning by the same neighbor who asked officials to come investigate blood on his screen door. The blood found throughout the neighborhood—on sidewalks and at least one other neighboring house—further painted a harrowing picture of Murr’s desperate attempt to escape his murderers the night before. While the crime scene has long since been cleaned up, a dark legacy lingers around 805 W Linden Street to this day.
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It’s unclear what happened to the house in the immediate years after Rodgers was sent to the Idaho State Correctional Center to serve out a life sentence without parole, but property records available online list a new owner, James Howell, as of 2000. Howell has since rented the house to a number of tenants and, given its proximity to Boise State University, it’s become a popular choice among students seeking off-campus housing. As a result, local lore about the house has a decidedly collegiate flair: One persistent rumor claims that fraternity brothers have reported seeing blood dripping down the walls of the basement for years. While there is no truth to this tale—and 805 W Linden was never an official frat house—many former residents say there is something “off” about the space.
“The basement was creepy and had a weird feel. We would take people down there to scare them. I never saw any ghosts but you could tell something wasn’t right,” Joe W., a former BSU student, told a local radio station, 107.9 LITE FM. Another Boise resident, Rachel R., told the station that her family almost bought the house back in 2000, and to this day she still gets anxious when thinking about their tour of the home. “It looked like it had been abandoned and the basement was by far the creepiest part,” she said. But of all the accounts shared with 107.9, the strangest tale, submitted by Dan D., goes well beyond the basement.
According to his story, one night Dan and his friend thought they heard someone trying to break into the house. When they went out to the front porch to check things out, no one was there. After looking around the front yard, Dan turned to face the house and saw a “big black oily looking thing” in the window of a bedroom upstairs. He remembers seeing the shadow-y figure move back from the window and towards the bedroom door before it disappeared. Shortly after, it reappeared outside in a mirror sitting on the porch. Dan watched as the “ball of oily blackness” moved down the large column of the porch, slowly growing in size until it took up the entire reflection of the mirror and moved right through him. “It was the weirdest, most disturbing thing I’ve ever felt and just typing this makes me feel it again. It’s like ice fingers sinking into my shoulders,” he said.
Despite these—and many other—chilling anecdotes, Howell insists the home isn’t haunted. Former tenant Deann Davis, who lived in the house with her two daughters from 2008 to 2009, agrees, telling Idaho News Channel 2 that her family never experienced any paranormal activity in the house. But even if there are no ghosts haunting the home, another invisible force certainly is: its bad reputation. “I was never afraid or felt it was haunted, but there are so many stories that everyone is convinced that it is,” Davis said.