Developer wants to get out from under Richmond house haunted by killers who grew up there

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RICHMOND, Va. -- As a realtor would say, the stucco two-story at 3117 Fourth Avenue in Richmond’s North Side has good bones.

It’s square and straight, with still-proud rooflines and only moderate rotting sections visible under the eaves.

But it’s not what’s under the roof that matters, but who grew up there – perhaps the most notorious bunch of killers in Richmond history: the Briley Brothers.

Linwood Briley was just 16 when he shot his elderly neighbor to death with a .22 rifle from inside the house in 1971. He told Richmond police that he was “shooting at a bird,” recalled RPD detective Norman Harding, who has since died. Linwood later said she was old and was going to die anyway, Harding told me in 2009, before he died - 30 years after the Briley’s subsequent murder spree that shocked the city.

It was 1979 when two of the brothers, Linwood and James, led a crew that embarked on a murder/robbery spree that saw as many as 10 dead by the most brutal means imaginable – cinder block, baseball bats, meat forks, rape, torture and fire.

When they were finally caught, they were actually wearing the clothes and jewelry of some of their victims.

They soon found themselves on death row, and eventually led the nation’s first successful death row breakout in May of 1984. They were caught and executed, Linwood in October of 1984 and James the next year.

Developer David Dagenhart Jr. found out the house’s history, apparently, after he bought it about a year ago from the Brileys’ father, who, like their mother, was a respected part of the North Richmond community.

He said he planned to remodel it, but lost heart after the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported about the home being for sale and its history.

Dagenhart, who has extensive redevelopment experience in Richmond and that part of North Side, said he just wants to get out from under the house at his point. He’s asking about $29,000.

He says the house has great potential, and he hopes to sell it to someone “who will make it shine again.”

Without a doubt, there are many homes in the Richmond area that have much bloodier histories – houses where murder, rape and torture  stained them forever.

But the Briley brothers were, thankfully, one of a kind, making the house at 3117 North Avenue unique not for its good bones, but the  bad blood that grew up there.

Watch our video report for a more complete history.



  • Jacky

    Every house in Northside has a bloody past. It’s not the houses that you have to worry about. Watch out for the savages. Life has no meaning in Richmond, almost like its sport killing. Nobody cares…. Hey Mark how about doing a story on black on black crime and deadbeat parents.

  • em

    I agree jacky. He can do a story about black on black crime, then he can do a story about the savages who commit white on white crime, the savages who drug smuggle in order to live in big houses in the county, those savage white serial killers, the savage school shooters and home grown terrorists, and then one on those savage white moms who kill all of their children—we could couple that with the deadbeat parent story and add in the ones who leave their children in hot cars ‘by mistake’. Life has no meaning to those people either. I think it would be a great series. Fantastic! Lets get going Mark!!

  • Bo

    I think it is a very interesting story. The Bliley brothers are a part of Richmond history now. You are both boring and sounds as if you know nothing about Richmond – north, south, east or west. Jacky, Deadbeat parents usually are deadbeat before they have children. I doubt Mark can write a story that will prevent you from picking a deadbeat partner as it seems you’ve already been down that road. Black on black crimes as well as white on white crimes and savage child abusers are reported as they happen. Semi intelligent beings would get it on the first go round.

  • Meghann

    I feel like it should be made into some type of historical house or haunted attraction for that area…it’s in Highland Park and that area could use something positive out of the negative.

    • joey

      Bad idea—don’t glorify their evil. A good idea would be to knock it down and rebuild or knock it down and make a dog park or playground.

  • Craylen

    I’m guessing there are other reasons behind the developer abandoning this dump. Nobody cares if a criminal once lived there.

    • Dave

      Nobody cares or you dont care? The house is $29,000 and no one is interested in it. How you came to that logic is beyond me.

  • Johnny G

    The right person could buy it and turn it into a museum.
    The Briley brothers were the epitome of evil.
    I for one never bought the idea that they killed county music disc jockey Johnny Galleger behind a redneck country music bar on Jeff Davis.

  • azure28

    The house needs a LOT of work and it is in a lousy neighborhood. Listing price started around $49 and has since dropped considerably. No one was actually murdered in 3117 4th Avenue – Linwood did fatally shoot a neighbor from one of its windows though.

    However, if you go over to Woodland Heights, the house where the entire Harvey family was slaughtered was subsequently bought and has residents taking care of the property. Life goes on.

  • azure28

    A quick look on the Richmond MLS real estate listing section shows a property of the same age as the Briley house, one block and 500 feet over at 3017 4th Avenue which is listed for $139,000.

    The Briley house is in terrible shape- that is why it is not selling and why the listing price keeps dropping like a stone. Perhaps if the three Brileys brothers had pursued law abiding livelihoods instead of becoming predatorial criminals, they could have helped their father with keeping the house up to shape.

  • ben

    Dagenhart, kingscrestllc, is doing service to the house by not “renovating” it. I have a house in northside that he and his buddy Larry Cluff flipped, just 4 years in and i will have to put in over 50k to get the house past the mistakes they made on my house. I have talked with subs who worked under them on my house and they said they took really crazy shortcuts. Scariest of all they vented the gas water heater into the ceiling and then out wrapped the pipe with aluminum foil to seal a turn. We have stopped getting the headaches that we used to after this was fixed.

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