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Murdered Bothell mother’s home for sale, evidence mounts against estranged husband
Bothell resident Leann Ware's home was built by her grandfather during the 1950s. He also built her next door neighbor's home. But she wants that house destroyed.
"I want to tear it down," said Ware on her front porch with her two big dogs behind a screen door. "I would be sad to see it go but I would like to see it torn down."
Many of her neighbors have the same feelings about the 1,500-square-foot rambler at 216 240th St. SW, which went up for sale Aug. 23. The Bothell home is the site of one of the most brutal murders in the city's history. Susann Smith was found face down, beaten and drown to death in her bathtub while her two kids were away on Feb. 12. Her estranged husband, Alan Justin Smith, now sits in the Snohomish County jail accused of the crime - with the most recent evidence showing DNA found on a towel under his wife's body consistent with his profile.
Claudia Nastase, who owns a senior living home on the other side of the former crime scene, wants the sale of the home to be positive but agrees that ultimately having it torn down would be good for neighbors.
"I would hope that any money that comes from it would go to the children but I doubt that will happen," said Nastase. "I hope someone else has more luck with the home."
The Smiths' two young children were taken by Washington State Child Protective Services when the murder occurred. Because of state laws the Reporter was unable to assess who now has custody of the children or if any family members have filed for custody.
The house was put on the market for $239,900. That is $65,000 under market value, according to zillow.com. The Smith's purchased the home in 2009 for $295,000.
Scott and Renee Comey of RE/MAX Elite in Everett are the selling agents for the home.
"This has been very difficult emotionally for both the families and the realtors involved," said Renee Comey. "[The home] has had interest and showings, albeit fewer than a home that does not have the same background. The sellers have disclosed that a murder took place in the home and this is listed for agents to see on the MLS, as well as shared if a buyer does call regarding the home."
The sale agreement also states that the seller is Alan Smith's sister Amanda Smith, who has power of attorney, according to the seller disclosure statement.
Renee Comey said that the home carries no equity and is being sold as a short sale.
The home has three bedrooms, 1.5 baths and a one car garage.
Photos on the flyer show a children's swing set in the backyard. The bathroom where Smith's body was found has been completely remodeled and most of the rest of the house has been painted or renovated. The blood stained carpet described in court documents in the hallway and bedroom have been replaced with hardwood floor and the bedroom where blood was found on the walls and ceiling look new. One of the bedrooms even has three big pink flowers painted on the yellow wall.
One fact that all of the neighbors can agree on is that with the sale of the home they are glad Alan Smith will not be coming back to the neighborhood, no matter how his murder trial ends. Nastase called it a blessing.
"That was the first thing that came to my mind," said Ware. "It seems like his family is still helping him, though."
Smith's girlfriend Love Thai has been seen in the neighborhood along with a man who one neighbor said resembles Alan Smith.
"We were told it was a friend of that woman and he just looks like Alan," said Nastase.
Knowing that Smith will not be returning is a relief for a neighborhood that was collectively terrified for three months.
Smith did not live in the home when the murders took place. Susann Smith was found murdered in her home with defensive wounds on her hands and arms, a fractured skull, and 19 separate blunt force strikes and stab wounds to her face and hands, court documents state. She was identified by her dental records.
Alan Smith moved back into the home with Thai in April. Police were called to the home for various incidents during May, including a report of Alan Smith and Thai having sex in the front yard.
A Bothell police spokesperson also said that the Washington State Patrol crime lab recently finished processing crime scene evidence that was "encouraging" for the prosecution.
A towel found under Susann Smith's body in the bathtub has "DNA consistent with Alan Smith's profile on it," said Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Craig Matheson. The towel also had DNA consistent with Susann Smith and a third person, believed to possibly be their son. Matheson said that it seems unlikely that the DNA would be there on the towel from the last time Alan Smith claimed to have been in the home.
Smith, who has pleaded not guilty, has an omnibus hearing on Sept. 12 and the trial is currently set to start on Sept. 13 at the Snohomosh County Courthouse in Everett.