Woman wants out of lease after discovering earlier murder

Published: Mar. 20, 2013 at 11:17 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 3:12 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - 51-year old Diana Lopez was getting settled into her new place at the Autumn Ridge Apartments when she learned some disturbing news: the unit she had moved into had been the scene of a gruesome murder a few months prior.

"Just knowing that the victim was 51 and I'm the same age, it kind of creeped me out. I just can't look at the apartment," Lopez said.

Lopez moved into the complex on 82nd and Avenue U at the beginning of March. Not long after, a coworker asked her if she realized a woman had been murdered in the apartment she was now living in. When Lopez toured the complex, she says, the landlord left out those details.

"She told me there was new carpet and everything looked really good. My actual response was, 'Is this community safe?' and her words were, 'Yes, everything is fine,'" Lopez said.

Over the next couple days, Lopez did some digging and her fears were confirmed. She found records that detailed the murder of 51-year-old Michelle Terry in the same apartment unit on January 4, 2013. The suspect, Austin Hasten, 22, is charged with Terry's murder and setting the apartment on fire.

"I started looking around and I noticed that the door had red tape on it. I didn't sleep very well that night. She lied to me. $900 for 11 days, that's not acceptable," Lopez said.

As soon as Lopez realized the truth about her apartment, she packed up and refused to spend another night there. Lopez contacted her landlord and asked to get out of her 18-month lease but her request was denied.

"I told her, 'Is it true that someone was murdered in my apartment?' And she said, 'Who told you that?' I asked her if I could get out of my lease and she told me she didn't have to tell me anything," Lopez said.

We spoke to an attorney who told us legally Autumn Ridge didn't have to inform Lopez of the murder. Rental properties are not required to reveal this information and it wasn't stated in Lopez' contract. However, Lopez has an attorney and is fighting to get out of her lease and receive her deposit back. She's ready to counter-sue if Autumn Ridge sues her for breaking her lease.

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