Joan Sisling stabbed her mother and teenage sister with a baseball bat and stabbed her with a kitchen knife.
Now, nearly 20 years after the killings, some people have been shocked and outraged by the out-of-home demonstration on Walker Avenue NW near Four Mile Road in Walker, Michigan.
There are three graves surrounded by a police grave. On the porch there is evidence of a baseball bat. The front door has silhouettes on the glass, with the words “Help” written in red.
The handrails on the front window look like they were made of blood.
The show’s builder – Amanda, who didn’t want her last name published – forgot. She grew up in a home that has been in her family for decades.
“It’s Halloween decoration,” he said.
She recalls the bloodshed she had to clean up after investigators finished her work. There is still blood that she cannot reach.
He said the cousins rented the house and were friends.
Everyone in the area knows what happened there. The mere mention of address raises the eyebrows. Drivers slow down, stare and point, sometimes shouting as people pass by, he said.
For Amanda, the house – “Walker Legend,” as she puts it – is where she raised her children.
“We know that some people may say, ‘Oh God, oh my God.’ It’s like, ‘We know better. Stop screaming at us when you walk past my house.’
Sisling killed her mother, Sharon Sisling, 42, and sisters Katalin, 15, and Lia, 6, on Jan. 22, 2003, at their Walker home. He hit his mother with a baseball bat and then cut her throat as she tried to creep up the stairs.
He did the same to his sister. He cried in bed and then went to bed with his weeping sister. Then, he stabbed her in the neck.
His father, John, a truck driver, was on the road when his family was killed. He was never the same.
John Sisling, now 36, was 17 when he killed his mother and sisters.
As a “juvenile” serving life in prison without parole, he was eligible for lesser punishment for his age at the time of the murder.
But Kent County Circuit Judge Mark Trusak upheld the state’s harsh sentence late last month. He said he had never seen anything “as horrible as this case.”
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Monica Janiski, who argued against the sentence reduction, declined to comment on the show.
Kathy Gordon is a classmate of Katelyn Sisling, who graduated from the Kenova Hills High School Class of 2006 in an email. He said the “tragedy has hit hard” at the school.
She said students were crying for help for several days and getting help from school counselors. Everyone asked what happened but the violence was “hard to take for high school students.”
She said her school bus route took her to the back of the Sislings home.
“On the morning of the murders, all the bus drivers were told to avoid the road because of the alarm. Unfortunately, my bus had no choice but to go down that road. We saw the alarm.
She said the current show made her “vomit” and was “really unacceptable.”
He said this would insult the victims.
“It’s just disgusting, especially since this crime has come close to home,” Gordon said.
Amanda said the show was not meant to hurt anyone. In a way, it brought about “closure,” especially for her daughter, who was a friend to the younger victim.
“That family that lived there, that family was our friends,” Amanda said. “I’m not going to sweep it under the rug and act like it’s not over. Lia is my daughter’s friend. We went to her funeral.
She said her family remembers the lives lost on the anniversary of the murder.
Sharon Sisling was “a good friend of my mother’s and grandma’s friend,” she said.
Her daughter Katie and youngest victim, Lia, travel by bus together every day and play three to four times a week.
She said she was not sensitizing the murders. He said John Sisling had “committed the ultimate atrocity.”
“We are not heartless. We are not monsters.
Anyone is welcome to talk to him, ”he said.
“Come knock on my door. Then ask what I have to clean. Maybe that’s my way of dealing.