Child Star Was Murdered in this House 30 Years Ago and New Owners Still Feel a Dark Presence
Murder House Flip follows the Bernal family’s journey and a much needed home makeover
When the Bernal family bought their Canoga Park, California, home 19 years ago, they were were excited to start fresh in a new neighborhood. Little did they know, a tragic murder took place in the house just 13 years earlier.
In 1988, 10-year-old child star Judith Barsi was shot in the head by her father, Jozsef Barsi in a drunken rage. He then shot his wife before turning the gun on himself.
“When we first moved in we didn’t know anything about the house,” says Gaby Bernal, who sleeps in the same bedroom where Judith was murdered. The family has felt a dark presence in the house since they moved in, and weird things kept happening. The garage door will open and close on its own and random cold spots appear throughout the house.
After years of feeling uneasy in their own home, the Bernal family is finally tackling a transformative renovation on a new series that specializes in such unusual makeovers.
Murder House Flip, which is available on the streaming service Quibi, hooks families up with a team of designers, paranormal experts and other pros to reimagine properties that have been the sites of notorious homicides, and make them into spaces that are no longer haunting for the families that call them home.
In this episode, which premieres Wednesday, interior designers Joelle Uzyel and Mikel Welch redesign the hallway where the mother was murdered; Gaby’s bedroom, the site of Judith’s death; and the backyard space.
The most important thing for Uzyel and Welch was to give the family a fresh start. “You can just tell there’s so much love in this house, but at the same time this house has taken an extreme toll on Gaby and her family,” says Welch.
With only three days to remodel, the team set to work. All three areas were important to transform, but Gaby’s room and the backyard had the most dramatic renovations.
The hallway felt cramped and dark. To open it up, the team repainted it, installed recessed lighting, added a fun rug, and finished the space with family photos, including one at the end of the hall that is the main focal point
Originally, Gaby’s bed was positioned the same way as Judith’s when she was shot, causing her to have nightmares. (The many dream catchers were her temporary solution.)
The team completely gutted the room, and replaced the window with french doors. “It was crucial to redefine that wall, and replacing the window wasn’t going to work,” says Uzyel.” To finish the room, they added new carpet and paint, and reoriented the whole layout. The finishing touch was an amethyst crystal which is meant to promote calmness and healing.
In the backyard, the team created a space for the whole family to enjoy — building a new pergola shifting it from its original spot to allow more natural light into Gaby’s room. They added an outdoor dining space, installed easy-to-maintain faux turf, and rearranged the Bougainvillea plants to create a beautiful garden.
“We really wanted to make sure that we gave these homeowners their home back. This family has gone through so much,” said Welch before the reveal.
The Bernal family was overwhelmed with emotion when they saw the new designs and noticed an energy shift from the moment they walked back into their home. “I felt bad energy here, and now it’s dissipated,” says Gaby.
“The negative energy that we felt in the house is gone already. No more sadness, no more crying. This is one of the greatest things that has happened in my life,” her dad Francisco adds.
The Bernal family were eager to have a fresh start in Canoga Park, Calif., but their home came with a tragic past.
In 1988, child star Judith Barsi and her mother were shot to death by Jozsef Barsi, her father, in a drunken rage, before he turned the gun on himself.
The 10-year-old, whose last credited role was that of voicing Anne-Marie in the 1989 animated film released posthumously titled “All Dogs Go to Heaven,” had previously appeared in the 1984 TV movie “Fatal Vision,” in which her character was slain by her father, a Green Beret.
The only child had also appeared in numerous television shows and about 50 commercials, according to the New York Times.
Judith Barsi, circa 1988. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
The Bernal family, who moved into their home 19 years ago, had no idea the murder took place in the house just 13 years prior, People magazine reported on Wednesday.
They are now appearing on a new reality TV series titled “Murder House Flip,” where families are teamed up with designers, paranormal experts, and other real estate pros to provide a transformative renovation on properties that have been the sites of notorious homicides.
“When we first moved in we didn’t know anything about the house,” said Bernal noting she sleeps in the same bedroom where Barsi was murdered.
The family has also insisted they have felt “a dark presence” in the house since moving in and have experience strange activity, including the garage door opening and closing on its own, as well as random cold spots throughout the property.
Welch said it was important to give the Bernal family a fresh start.
“You can just tell there’s so much love in this house, but at the same time this house has taken an extreme toll on Gaby and her family,” he said. “We really wanted to make sure that we gave these homeowners their home back. This family has gone through so much.”
In the episode, Bernal insisted that the transformation has shed new, positive light to the home.
“I felt bad energy here, and now it’s dissipated,” she said.
Her father Francisco agreed.
“The negative energy that we felt in the house is gone already,” he said. “No more sadness, no more crying. This is one of the greatest things that has happened in my life.”
Quibi show Murder House Flip features home where child star Judith Barsi was killed by her father in 1988
It’s a reality makeover show with a deadly twist.
And Quibi’s new Murder House Flip is already gaining notoriety for its focus on remodeling homes where brutal and infamous killings have taken place.
In 2001, the Bernal family purchased the property and, according to TooFab.com’s review of the show, claim they had no idea of its history.
A neighbor subsequently informed them of what had taken place and how Judith Barsi and her mother Maria had been shot by József Barsi in July 1988, who then spent two days in the home with the bodies before setting them on fire and killing himself.
Judith, who was 10 at the time of her death, had started acting professionally in 1984 and appeared in Cheers, Growing Pains, Cagney And Lacey, Punky Brewster, St. Elsewhere, The Love Boat and Jaws 4: The Revenge.