They’ve continued to benefit students, faculty and society as a whole in the years since the rampages.
“They served a healthy, positive function in community life,” Ms. Berthold said. “As opposed to the house in Cleveland, where these young women had been abducted and held hostage and tormented.”
Indeed, it was only a few days after Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry were rescued that many Cleveland residents began calling for Ariel Castro’s home to be destroyed. The 52-year-old faces multiple counts growing out of keeping the women imprisoned in the house for 10 years, ranging from kidnapping and rape to the murder of an unborn child.
In fact, city officials say there have even been credible threats of arson, underscoring just how badly neighbors no longer want to look at the structure and be reminded of the unspeakable acts that took place inside.
“Those residents on that street that I talked to in the first week or two [after the women were rescued] felt that nothing else could be done than to take it down,” said Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins, who represents the section of the city that includes the Castro house on Seymour Avenue.
Some have suggested that the house be kept standing, Mr. Cummins said. But unlike the structure on the Virginia Tech campus or, to a lesser extent, the movie theater in Aurora and grocery store near Tucson, the Castro home has served no healthy purpose for the people of Cleveland.
“There’s so much trauma around that property, Castro’s property, I really can’t imagine” letting it stand, Mr. Cummins said. “Some people have said we should let a contractor go in and do a complete rehab and continue to use it, to fight through this trauma and use it. But most of the people on that street want to see it come down.”
The precedent for tearing down homes used by kidnappers, rapists and murderers was set long ago.
The Chicago house owned by notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy was torn down, and a new structure was later built on the property. The Milwaukee apartment building where Jeffrey Dahmer murdered many of his victims was razed in 1992.
Some buildings only get torn down much later and for reasons untied to their criminal notoriety.
The home where actress Sharon Tate and several houseguests were killed in 1969 by Charles Manson’s followers was torn down, though not until 1994 — and in the interim, industrial-rock band Nine-Inch Nails recorded an album there.
One of the most famous addresses in British crime history was 10 Rillington Place, where Reginald Christie murdered eight women. The street was quickly renamed after Christie was hanged in 1953 but wasn’t torn down until 1971 to make room for a bigger road and after a major feature film titled “10 Rillington Place” had been shot there.
In cases like those, and the unfolding situation in Cleveland, it’s often best for the community and its healing process to see the building destroyed, Ms. Berthold said.
“I would speculate that it’s associated with a sense of vulnerability” for the people who live nearby, she said.