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10 Tenants Who Murdered Their Landlords

by Gary Pullman
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

To balance the recent list of 10 landlords who murdered their tenants, it’s time to shine a light on those not-so-great tenants.

Although the facts in criminal cases are the same, defense and prosecuting attorneys interpret them differently. According to the former, their clients are almost always not guilty or, at most, committed their crimes under extenuating circumstances. The latter almost invariably contend that the crimes were deliberate, if not premeditated. Where defenders often urge leniency, prosecutors frequently want convicted defendants to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The cases involving this list of 10 tenants who murdered their landlords illustrate these differences.

Related: 10 Murder Mysteries That Went Unsolved For Years

10 Alex Garces

Landlord Dies After Being Pushed Down Stairs

Presumably, because tenant Alex Garces, 23, of Queens, New York City, regretted his crime, he received only a three-year prison sentence for killing his 71-year-old landlord, Edgar Moncayo.

According to a New York Post article by Kevin Sheehan and Priscilla DeGregory, Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder said, “he was shocked by the level of remorse that Garces showed.” The judge explained that his courtroom experience had shown him how he rarely hears “a defendant apologize and ask forgiveness from the family of the victim.”

Moncayo’s family was less impressed. His daughter Lourdes Moncayo found the sentence far too short. Weeping, she declared that Garces “broke my family down forever.”

It appears that, at first, Garces told authorities that Moncayo had fallen down the steps after Garces, carrying a mattress out the front door, had bumped into the landlord. However, a doorbell surveillance camera showed Garces shove the landlord down the steps after arguing with him. The victim later died, having sustained a traumatic brain injury when he’d struck his head on the sidewalk.

Moncayo and his wife had shared their home with Garces, who lived upstairs. Aware that his tenant was having trouble paying his rent, the landlord reduced it from $400 to $200 per month. However, after Garces broke the house rules by allowing his girlfriend to visit him, leaving “a crying baby alone in the upstairs unit,” the tenant agreed to move out. He and his brother, Christhian Guapi, 22, returned with a drill to regain entrance to the property and retrieve his belongings.[1]

9 Frank Walton

Frank Walton, 42, seemed intent on murdering his 67-year-old landlord. Jake Goldstein-Street reports in a HeraldNet article that passersby discovered human remains two days after Howard Benzel, 67, went missing about a mile north of Lake McMurray in Skagit County, Washington. Benzel died due to blunt force trauma, Medical Examiner Dr. J. Matthew Lacy found, testifying that the landlord had been struck at least twenty-five times, probably with a hammer. Lacy also found “some evidence of possible strangulation and bleeding on Benzel’s brain.”

The landlord and his tenant had argued after Benzel discovered that Walton was living in the commercial unit he rented to sell used goods and did not intend to extend Walton’s lease.

Found guilty of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence, Walton was sentenced a month later to eighteen-and-a-third years in prison.

More than 300 people showed up to Howard Benzel’s memorial service.”[2]

8 Ashwani Shamlodhiya

When West Chicago, Illinois, landlord Sichang “Michael” Li discovered that his tenant Ashwani Shamlodhiya was engaged in an adulterous affair with his wife, he was none too happy. However, it was Shamlodhiya who had murder on his mind.

Shamlodhiya, a native of India who worked at Lucent Technologies in Naperville, had rented a room for about six months from Li and his wife, Wen “Susan” Li. When Li confronted Shamlodhiya about the tryst, a fight broke out between the two men. Ultimately, Shamlodhiya killed his landlord, adding arson to murder when he set the townhouse afire in an attempt to cover up the crime.

Shamlodhiya faced two trials. During the first, he was convicted of arson, but not murder. The tenant testified that a stranger entered the home and attacked both men during their argument before fleeing. At his second trial, he said he’d struck Li in self-defense after being attacked with a knife and hammer and had then “lied to avoid being dishonored.”

The outcome of the second trial was different. Prosecutors claimed that Shamlodhiya committed the crime out of jealousy, not self-defense. He was sentenced to 26 years in prison, out of a maximum sentence of 60 years. However, there was a twist in the ongoing story. The defendant’s murder conviction was overturned on appeal for the reason “that the jurors should not have been told by defense attorneys not to consider an involuntary manslaughter verdict after the trial judge had said they could consider that option and the defendant had requested they be allowed to do so.”

The matter was finally resolved in support of Shamlodhiya’s convictions for both first-degree murder and residential arson, the Appellate Court of Illinois ruling that, after reviewing the appeal, it affirmed the lower court’s judgment.[3]

7 Daniel Walsh

The BBC online article concerning lodger Daniel Walsh’s murder of his landlord Graham Snell, 71, doesn’t mention whether the badgers in a woodland sett near the scene of the crime were hungry. However, after killing his tenant, the murderous tenant cut Snell’s body into parts and fed some of them to the animals. He distributed some of the rest of the victim’s remains over the woodland and deposited other parts in a “communal bin.” After not seeing Mr. Snell for over a week, a neighbor reported him missing. Walsh told authorities he’d found Snell “dead in his bathroom.”

Finally, the truth came out. Having been incarcerated for theft on a previous occasion—Walsh had stolen £5,000 from his landlord ten years earlier—the tenant said he’d panicked after killing Snell and had dismembered the dead man’s body.

The police dropped the ball in investigating the murder, neglecting to record or follow up on Snell’s complaints that “Walsh had been stealing from his bank account and staying at his home uninvited.” The police had also failed to conduct “intelligence checks before visiting Mr. Snell’s home,” actions that could have saved the victim’s life. As a result, a constable was removed from the job, the inquiry officer quit the force, and administrative action was taken. “Learning recommendations” were also adopted, and additional training was implemented.

Found guilty of murder, Walsh was sentenced to serve at least 27 years in prison.[4]

6 Monique Lee and Gary Lee

Verdict reached in Monique Lee trial

Monique Lee, 28, didn’t strangle her landlord Karen Jenkins, 48, by herself. She had help. Her younger brother—Gary Lee, 19—lent her a helping hand by holding down the victim’s legs. Gary had also lured Jenkins to the apartment by posing as a prospective renter. It seems that Monique did not appreciate Jenkins’s having served eviction papers on her two days earlier.

After her initial trial ended in a mistrial, Monique was retried and found guilty of first-degree murder and using a weapon to commit a felony. Monique was sentenced to life in prison in late 2012 for the murder. She died in January 2013 after just beginning her sentence due to an undisclosed illness.

Gary pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for testimony against his sister but was also charged with lying under oath after providing contradictory statements under oath. He received a 65-to-100-year prison sentence with eligibility for parole in 2043. He seemed undaunted by his fate, shouting, “I’m God’s child! God will save me!” as he was escorted from the courtroom.[5]

5 John Hamann

Police: Middleton homicide suspect was renting room in victim’s home

Life in prison. No parole. That was the sentence received by John “Jack” Hamann, the Middleton, Wisconsin, tenant who murdered his 81-year-old landlord Agnes Bram. The reason, it seems, that Judge Hyland denied the defendant the opportunity of being paroled is that Hyland was horrified by the sheer brutality of the crime.

Hamann’s weapon was a hammer or “similar object,” reports Dani Maxwell for the website. The killer struck his victim in the head more than half a dozen times, leaving her bloodied corpse on the garage floor for her family to discover.

The landlady’s granddaughter, Kelly Etter, was also aghast at the viciousness of Bram’s murder, as was Bram’s daughter, Rose Kelso, who told the murderer, “You threatened your past landlord in January before you moved into my mom’s house, with a hunting knife. Your own mother didn’t want you living with her over fear you would hit her over the head. You have no right to be released.”

Before beating Bram to death, Hamann, who officials say struggled with alcoholism and mental health issues, posted a rant against women on social media.[6]

4 Joshua Young

Landlord shot, killed in Portland Monday

Initially, tenant Joshua Young had been charged with first-degree murder, but at trial, the jury found him guilty of second-degree manslaughter. Writing for MLKY News at Noon, Emily Maher reported that the Louisville, Kentucky, tenant was also convicted of first-degree wanton endangerment and tampering with physical evidence. He’d shot his landlord, Shane McCain, to death after the men argued about rent.

Young said that, in killing McCain, he’d been only trying to protect his family. Young maintained that McCain had broken into his home and threatened him with a gun. Before fleeing, Young shot his landlord three times, killing him.

Young was sentenced to six years for his crimes.[7]

3 Joshua Alfano

Twenty-three-year-old Joshua Alfano wanted to become a model. Instead, as Carley Dryden notes in her Daily Breeze article, he will spend life in prison without the possibility of parole for kidnapping, robbing, and strangling his 67-year-old Torrance, California, landlord, Norman Mangus. Despite his plea for leniency, Judge Mark Arnold was not moved by the defendant before him, whom Arnold described as “a sociopath with no conscience.”

Although Alfano apologized for his heinous crimes, Judge Arnold said, “I think you’re sorry that you got caught, not for what you did,” and observed that Alfano had burglarized Mangus twice before and had a history of convictions. Alfano’s alleged remorse hadn’t stopped him from strangling his landlord the third time that Alfano, with the aid of his 21-year-old friend, Morgan Tyler Delange, had attempted to rob Mangus.

Details from the court revealed that Delange called Mangus to arrange a meeting so Alfano could return the stolen property. In reality, the meeting was a ruse to steal Mangus’s TV and car.

At trial, Alfano and Delange blamed one another, but each admitted to helping carry the body and stealing the landlord’s car. Dryden’s description of the killing indicates its horrific savagery: “One or the other defendant stomped on Mangus’ chest, punched and kicked him, strangled him with a belt, and stuffed a ski mask in his mouth. He died of asphyxia. Both men carried his body to the side of the house, where it remained for four days until police discovered it.”

As for motive, Deputy District Attorney Erika Jerez, referred to Alfano and Delange as “Team Greed.”[8]

2 Daniel Briceno Garcia

Daniel Briceno Garcia, 46, stabbed two of his landlords, Sonia Butron Calvi, 66, and Edgar Aguilera Daza, 60, to death after Garcia became “paranoid about Covid,” reports an MSN article. The couple had shared their south London home with five others,” subletting rooms in the house.

One of the other tenants recalled hearing shouting and, after opening her bedroom door, seeing Daza “being repeatedly stabbed in the stomach while the defendant held him around the neck.” Next, Garcia attacked Calvi.

Authorities responding to the scene found “a bloodbath” at the rental house. Daza was found in a pool of blood in the hallway, and Calvi was lying face down in the kitchen with a knife clenched in her hand.

Although Garcia claimed he was mentally ill and heard voices, a jury agreed that he had committed manslaughter and found him guilty of two counts of murder. Garcia was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 33 years.[9]

1 Karl Bestford

Ironically, Karl Bestford, 35, a tenant who sought to decapitate his landlord Simon Meech, 46, worked in a slaughterhouse. Despite his occupation, he didn’t prove up to the task, leaving his victim stabbed and mutilated rather than headless. In the process, he did manage to murder Meech, for which he received a life sentence.

The renter invited his landlord to his Rayleigh Grove apartment in the Bensham part of Gateshead, England, where Betsford pulled a knife on Meech, repeatedly stabbing him. Despite his not guilty plea, the jury found him culpable. In doing so, the jurors took a dangerous and violent offender off the streets, stated the Northumbria police. Detective Chief Inspector Paul Young, the lead investigator, added, “This was a savage attack on a respectable member of the community who was simply going about his business.”[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen