Assistant McHenry County State’s Attorney Jena Blake writes in her office’s news letter, “Justice for All,” of the journey to demolition of what she calls the “House of Horrors”:
McHenry “House of Horrors” Demolished
In March of 2010, the occupant of 2811 Myang Avenue was arrested and charged with multiple counts of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault after victims came forward to police about events that had occurred in the house on Myang Ave. years before.
At trial, Prosecutor Sharyl Eisenstein, referred to the house as a “house of horrors” because of what had happened inside the house.
The name stuck, and the occupant of the house was convicted and incarcerated.
However, as the house lay unoccupied, the “house of horrors” became more horrific to neighbors as the deterioration and dilapidation of vacancy set in and the house became not only an eye sore, but a public safety concern.
The law offers various avenues for a governmental body to pursue the demolition of a house that poses a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the community. In attempting to get a court order for the demolition of 2811 Myang Ave.,
McHenry County learned that a variety of issues can slow the process and that a coordination of efforts amongst county departments is integral to achieving the desired outcome.
The occupant of 2811 Myang Ave. wasn’t the record owner.
His deceased parents had owned the house and a probate case was never opened to delineate ownership, leaving multiple heirs, with the last name of Smith scattered across the country, having a possible ownership interest and needing appropriate notification.
Additionally, the house had multiple years of unpaid real estate taxes, unpaid municipal liens and tax certificates sold.
Finally, the former occupant objected to the demolition of the house.
Obtaining a court order allowing for the demolition of 2811 Myang Ave. took a coordinated effort on the part of multiple county departments.
The Planning and Development Department performed inspections to collect evidence to support the petition, posted notification of the intent to demolish, and provided a licensed architect as an expert witness.
The McHenry County Treasurer worked with the State’s Attorney by agreeing to not object to the demolition and making sure the tax liens were properly recorded.
The township assessor and county assessor worked together to update the tax assessment on the property to accurately reflect its value by taking into account the poor condition of the home, which provided an important baseline in comparing the value of the house and the cost to repair it.
The County ultimately succeeded in obtaining a court order allowing for the demolition of 2811 Myang Ave. and the State’s Attorney’s Office hopes that this will be a step forward for a neighborhood that has endured the “horrors” of the property’s history.
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Additional information can be found about this Chuck Wheeler crusade in this McHenry County Blog story.