A 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.