Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Shotgun Slaying of Bruce and Darlene Rouse

Murder Mansion

Two months later, William Rouse was sentenced to 80 years in prison — two consecutive 40-year-terms. Judge Victoria A. Rossetti said she was disgusted at not being able to give him more time, being hampered by the fact that he had been a juvenile at the time of the crime.

William Rouse, recent
William Rouse, recent

"They gave you life and brought you into this world ... they gave you every opportunity for a future," the Chicago Tribune quoted Rossetti as saying. "You did the most hatefully shocking thing when you took that shotgun and, at close range, shot your mother who brought you into this world ... and then shot your father."

William appealed his conviction and sentence, but in 1998 an appellate court upheld it.

However, this proved not to be the end to the Rouse House saga. In 2002, a mysterious four-alarm fire engulfed "Murder Mansion." The house had been purchased by a new family, and they were out of town when the fire started, reportedly in a laundry room.

The fire drew a crowd of morbidly curious onlookers, who marveled at the latest calamity to befall Libertyville's most infamous landmark. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze in time to leave a shell of the star-crossed home behind. And that's how it stood for a year — a blackened reminder of the gruesome events that came before. It became a home for transients while its owners decided what to do.

Then in 2003, county officials began proceedings to tear the house down. Owner Andrew Janas said he was planning on doing just that and would rebuild on the site. In the meantime, fire officials had determined that the blaze was not caused by arson.

Janas said he doesn't believe in ghosts.

"Only Hollywood creates ghosts," he told the Tribune.

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