POCATELLO — Frank and Allison Contreras moved to Idaho in 2005. The couple has a combined family of three children, and they were looking forward to exiting the Bay Area of California and settling into their new country home in Southeast Idaho.
But just one year after moving into their two-acre spread on Whispering Cliffs Drive, the family’s lives was forever changed and their dream home became a nightmare.
It was inside Frank and Allison’s home in Tyhee that Cassie Jo Stoddart, Frank’s niece, was stabbed to death by her classmates, Torey Adamcik and Brian Draper, in 2006.
Adamcik and Draper were both convicted of the murder in 2007.
Adamcik was back in the news this month, seeking post-conviction relief for the sentence passed down by retired Sixth District Judge Peter McDermott. He is currently serving life without parole for the murder. Adamcik's attorney, Dennis Benjamin of Boise, argued that the sentence imposed is cruel and unusual punishment.
The killing was brutal. Cassie was stabbed 29 times while she was house-sitting for Frank and Allison.
“Cassie was a good girl," Frank said. "She didn’t drink or use drugs and she was a straight A student. She was responsible. We didn’t just trust her with our house, and she babysat my son too.”
It was the Contreras's 13-year-old daughter that found Cassie on the living room floor. Frank said experts believed Cassie was killed sometime Friday night. He and his family had not returned until Sunday evening.
The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office put the family up in a hotel for two weeks during the investigation, and Sheriff Lorin Nielsen even helped cover the insurance deductible to start the cleanup process after the crime.
The split-level house has fresh paint, new carpet and a spacious living room that no one uses.
“We just never went back in there,” Frank said.
Minimally furnished and tidy, the room has a feeling of emptiness, and Frank said that sense of sadness impacted his entire family.
Allison lost her job and fell into depression.
“I had to pick up a second job; medication alone was $300 a month,” Frank said. “The first two years were the worst. It was our dream home, and it turned into a nightmare.”
Frank's step-daughter suffered a breakdown after she reported seeing Cassie in the house and attempted suicide. Frank said each member of the family has had an unexplained encounter in the home.
Frank said he and Allison have put the house on the market every year since the murder, but so far have had no offers.
The house sits on two acres off Two and a Half Mile Road. It features 1,600-square feet of family space, fenced pastures and a garage. Yet despite the house's amenities, Frank and Allison just want out of it.
Each appeal in court keeps the memory of that horrific event that took place in Frank and Allison's home fresh in their family's minds.
“It’s like "Groundhog Day" — the same thing over and over," Frank said. "I just quit loving and started drinking. It put pressure on my marriage and my family."
Allison still lives in the house with their 12-year-old son. Frank, however, no longer lives there.
Frank said the family is doing much better — he’s doing much better — but they feel trapped in a house that won’t sell and that they can no longer stand to live in.
“We just want out, but we want to fulfill our obligation." Frank said. "We’re at the point that we will take what we owe: $138,000. We just want to walk. But there is this stigma on this house."
Pocatello Realtor Randy Spencer said realtors are not obligated to disclose to potential buyers that a violent crime, suicide or murder took place at a property for sale. But he said if the buyer is a client, the realtor must divulge the information.
The difference between a customer and a client is that a client has a signed buyer’s/seller’s agreement with the realtor.
Spencer said during his extended career as a realtor, he has never had a potential buyer ask about violent acts or suicides, and he recalled two incidences where the homeowners committed suicide. But both of the properties sold.
Spencer predicts an optimistic outcome for the house Cassie Jo Stoddart was murdered in.
“If the property is properly marketed, it will sell,” Spencer said.