Man Shares Bizarre Story Of Touring A House While The Owner Was 'Tied Up In A Carpet...In The Basement'

The owner turned up dead days later — it was the man showing the house who killed him.

A man showing a house with a screenshot of Artem Templer's tweet EJ_Rodriquez / Getty Images via Canva, Marko Aliaksandr / Shutterstock, ArtemTepler / Twitter

Most of us at one time or another have had the experience of touring a house or an apartment and having the whole thing be a horror show.

Disgusting bathrooms, cramped spaces, hideous decor, water-damaged floors — if you've spent enough time looking for housing, you've seen it all. 

But we promise you, there's no way, even in the worst house or apartment, you've experienced what one buyer did while touring a house for sale back in the 2000s.


The contractor noticed that the owner — or at least, the guy he thought was the owner — was "acting weird," and soon found out why on the nightly news.

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A man toured a New Jersey house for sale while the owner was 'tied up in a carpet, dead in the basement.'

Los Angeles contractor and real estate developer Artem Tepler told his story in a series of tweets recently.


Twitter account "@heIpfullandlord," which focuses on the residential rental property & development business, penned a tweet asking people for "the biggest surprise you've uncovered during due diligence" while buying properties.

Tepler responded with his tale of touring a house he was just about to buy in Livingston, New Jersey back in 2006, only to find out it was an active murder scene.


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The owner's tenant had murdered him and stashed his body in the basement and showed Tepler the house posing as the deceased landlord.

In a follow-up tweet, Tepler gave more information — and the story only gets stranger from here.

When asked how the owner of the house's body was discovered, Tepler replied that the murderer's ruse all fell apart when Tepler's associate went to pick him up for the house's closing.

"The guy was acting weird," Tepler wrote in his tweet. "My buddy suspected something was off and called the cops."


After a "drunken fight gone wrong" which resulted in the murder, "the tenant thought he'd sell the house by pretending to be the owner but then got scared last minute to go through with it."

After the police were called, they found the true owner's body wrapped in a carpet in the basement.

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The story went on to make national news in 2007 when the former tenant confessed to killing his landlord and roommate.

According to Newark, New Jersey newspaper The Star-Ledger, via, the murderer, David Scioscia, had been renting a room from the house's owner, Michael Balestro, for about a year.


By the time authorities discovered Balestro's body, Scioscia had fled in his car, zigzagging all over the country and leading the police in a cross-country manhunt. 

He was finally caught in Texas trying to cross the border into Mexico.

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Scioscia had also stolen his landlord's identity before killing him and planned to sell his house before fleeing.

Scioscia had also used Balestro's identity to withdraw money from his bank accounts prior to fleeing New Jersey.

He was charged with first-degree aggravated manslaughter, a lesser charge that indicates the killing was unintentional, as Tepler had suggested.


Scioscia was also charged with identity theft and forgery.

He pled guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2007.

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Commenters on TikTok were definitely shocked by Tepler's bizarre experience.

Given that most readers were landlords or property developers, most have seen it all — but nothing quite like this.

"You win," one person tweeted, in reference to the original request for horror stories.

"What’s the under/over on the number of NJ real estate transactions with a dead body somewhere in the house?" another person joked.

One veteran finance professional said Tepler's tale was "literally the craziest real estate story I’ve ever heard," while another quipped, "This is amazing… in a bad way."

Still, it could have been far worse for Tepler, as he shared in another follow-up tweet. "[Thank God] we didn't close," he wrote. "Now that would have been a title issue!"


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.