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HUD wants to sell Minneapolis house without disclosing 2014 murder

Rufina Alejandra Clara-Rendon died of a gunshot to the head in the bathroom of this south Minneapolis house in 2014.

Rufina Alejandra Clara-Rendon died of a gunshot to the head in the bathroom of this south Minneapolis house in 2014.

Manuel Guzman and Guillermo Ayala-Enriquez squired Rufina Alejandra Clara-Rendon to their rented Minneapolis home at 5652 46th Ave. The three men had been hanging out at a BBQ at a different location.

The date: August 7, 2014.

Inside the 46th Avenue pad, Guzman and Ayala-Enriquez accused the 31-year-old Clara-Rendon of being a snitch after a drug robbery. The men forced Clara-Rendon into the bathroom, where they killed him with a single gunshot to the head. His body was stuffed into a mattress and hauled away.

The executioners stopped at a gas station before making a final pit stop. Witnesses later said they heard Guzman say to Ayala-Enriquez, "It had to be done.... He was a liability."

Firefighters discovered Clara-Rendon's charred carcass hours later. They'd been dispatched to put out a dumpster fire on East 39th Street. The body was found on the asphalt nearby.

Guzman was convicted of first-degree murder last April. He was sentenced to life without parole. 

Guillermo Ayala-Enriquez pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

The residence where Clara-Rendon was executed fell into foreclosure, making its way into HUD's hands. The federal housing authority is about to put the house up for sale – without disclosing the fact a murder occurred there.

Why? Because it can.

Minnesota law mandates a real estate seller disclose all facts about a property — i.e., anything that's known that could affect a person's use or enjoyment. Among the exemptions that don't have to be revealed are a natural death, suicide, or "perceived paranormal activity."

But a murder isn't one of the exemptions. According to state statute, a for-sale property acquired by a government agency like HUD gets a free pass from so-called these "Truth-in-Housing" rules.  

Neighbors tipped off Minneapolis City Councilman Andrew Johnson about the property, which had devolved into a haven for meth heads during foreclosure. Johnson was flummoxed to learn what HUD was doing.  

"If you are able to avoid disclosure, the unsuspecting buyer will be in for a real surprise when they find out from neighbors about the brutal murder that took place," Johnson emailed HUD's Andrew Eickel last week. "I can almost guarantee that they will be quite uncomfortable and upset. Far worse though, when they go to sell they will have to disclose the murder, and thus the home will be worth many thousands or tens of thousands of dollars less. And this loss would have been inflicted by a department of their own government."

In a subsequent email, Johnson asked Eickel to delay listing the property until it was determined whether it must disclose the murder.

An unmoved Eickel wrote back, "… I understand your concerns with the property. As previously noted, HUD’s Office of General Counsel is reviewing… Until then, we will be proceeding with the marketing of the property."

According to another Eickel email, the house is slated to hit the market sometime this week. But Eickel told City Pages Monday morning it's now "undecided" if HUD will disclose the murder. He also said a timeline to market the property is "undetermined at this time." 

"For the real estate market to work properly, a buyer should be able to come in with eyes wide open," says Johnson. "When one party doesn't have to disclose all the facts, that's wrong. Right now, you have HUD concerned about itself and nobody else. 

"I don't want some future some constituent being screwed financially because HUD intentionally withheld an important fact about this property. In that sense, HUD would be victimizing somebody else."