Jason and Kerri Brown of Greenville, S.C. found a secret room, hidden behind a bookcase, in their newly purchased home. When they entered the room, they found a note that said “You found it!”
Sadly for the Browns, they weren’t living in their own Nancy Drew mystery, but in a property so filled with toxic mold that it had forced the previous owners to abandon the house, leaving only a note for the next owner.
The secret room in the old mill home on Whitten Street in Greenville’s Dunean section contained a handwritten letter from the previous owner titled, “You Found It!”
“Hello. If you’re reading this, then you found the secret room. I owned this house for a short while and it was discovered to have a serious mold problem. One that actually made my children very sick to the point that we had to move out,” Kerri Brown read from the letter.
According to the note, there was so much mold, it made the last family who lived there sick, and they were forced to move out.
The Browns later learned the home contained the worst types of mold including Stachybotrys, the so-called Toxic Black Mold.
At first the family was skeptical, so they had the house tested and sure enough—there was mold. Now they’re suing to get their money back, claiming that the Realtor knew that the home was infected with the mold of doom. Here’s the best part of the story. It turns out that the note writer, rather than being evil, is actually something of a hero:
And what about the man who left them the note in the secret room behind the bookshelf? Was he to blame for any of this? After all, who leaves a note?
Meet the author of the note, George Leventis.
“I didn’t mean it to scare the Browns, which I think it did when they first read it,” Leventis said. “If I didn’t write it, it would easily happen again.”
Leventis and his family were the first to discover the horrible secret of Number 6 Whitten Street. There is no indication the previous owner was aware of any mold.
“I’ve never seen my kids that sick. And it was scary,” Tricia Leventis said in tears.
According to Tricia, she and their two young daughters became desperately ill, and said doctors told them to leave the home immediately.
“It was adamant. Absolutely, get out,” Leventis said. “It was to the point where my youngest was so sick, she was unable to hold any nutrition, nothing was working, she couldn’t breathe.”
The Leventises did the only thing they believed they could do, with no money in savings to have the mold removed. They stopped paying their mortgage and let the home go into foreclosure.
But George Leventis knew the home someday could be re-sold, and he wanted to be sure the future owners knew about the mold. Leventis said what better way to warn them than to leave a note hidden from plain view.
“I put it in the room because I didn’t want anyone to find it if it was left out in the house. I figured if someone else who had another interest or a stake in the house found it, they would just throw it away or they wouldn’t tell anyone,” Leventis said.
The Browns say that is exactly what happened, and say if not for the note, their child may have become sick as well.
“I’m very thankful he left the note. In my opinion, there’s a possibility he could have saved Megan’s life,” Kerri Brown said.
In the meantime, the Browns said there is no chance of saving the home on Whitten Street with the “secret room.”
“The bottom line is it costs almost as much to fix it as the house is valued,” Jason Brown said. “We’re having to pay a mortgage on a house we can’t even live in.”
“We want them to make it right, and to take responsibility for what they did,” said wife Kerri.
Fannie Mae has agreed to buy back the home for its cost, $75,000, and in return will be dropped from the lawsuit. Century 21 Flynn & Youngblood and Realtor Sue Bakx, however, are still on the hook.