WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — A Halloween display outside a home in Walker where a family was brutally murdered nearly two decades ago is raising eyebrows.
On Jan. 22, 2003, 17-year-old Jon Siesling killed his mother Sharon and two sisters inside their home on Walker Avenue NW. Authorities say he used a baseball bat to beat his mother and 15-year-old sister Katelin before stabbing them with a kitchen knife, after which he slit the throat of his 6-year-old sister Leah.
The horrifying tragedy has haunted the neighborhood ever since, which is why some are taken back by the Halloween display outside the home where it happened.
In the front yard, three gravestones are placed side by side surrounded by crime scene tape. On the door, “help us” is written in red paint, with bloody-looking handprints pressed against the windows.
“I would say it’s a little in poor taste,” neighbor Nate Reed said. “I wouldn’t do it in my yard, but of course, I don’t live in a triple-homicide house.”
The homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, said the tragedy of what happened there isn’t lost on her. The owner says she was friends with the victims as their family was renting out the home to the Sieslings. She said losing them was devastating.
After police finished their investigation, the homeowner says she helped clean the bloody mess left behind.
“We scrubbed blood off all three levels of that home and pulled blood-stained carpeting,” she said.
There are still specs of blood they have never been able to wash away.
Despite the backlash on social media, the homeowner stands behind the display. She said it’s a way for them to process what happened, especially after years of living in its shadow.
All these years later, she said, people still slow down when passing the house.
“(They’re) gawking and taking photos,” she said.
Despite the house’s history, the homeowner says the display is really for the enjoyment of her three young grandchildren, who love Halloween.
“(They) love Halloween and dressing up and love decorating and wanted to be a part of helping create the scene as much as they could,” she said.
Siesling, who is now 36, was sentenced to life without parole in 2004. Since Siesling committed the crime as a juvenile, he recently had the chance to receive a lesser sentence as part of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling applying to so-called juvenile lifers. Last month, a Kent County judge denied that request, ordering Siesling to spend the rest of his life behind bars.