Earlier this month, an odd Zillow listing for a house in Cayce, a small town south of Columbia, South Carolina, started circulating – and immediately sparked some spooky speculation about who might be living upstairs.
“Upstairs apartment cannot be shown under any circumstances,” the listing read. “Buyer assumes responsibility for the month-to-month tenancy in the upstairs apartment. Occupant has never paid, and no security deposit is being held, but there is a lease in place. (Yes, it does not make sense, please don’t bother asking.)”
Other mildly disturbing details included a door to the upstairs apartment stained with blood-red paint, an odd sculpture in the backyard and a gaping hole in the ceiling.
The internet went wild with speculation that perhaps a serial killer – or the devil himself – was the mystery tenant.
The State debunked any notions about evil occupying the home May 13.
The newspaper revealed that the mystery tenants are artist Randall McKissick, 70, and his three cats.
According to The State, the Columbia native was a world-renowned artist and illustrator in the 1980s and 1990s. His work was shown internationally – in Paris, Johannesburg, New York, Atlanta and Chicago among other places.
One of his pieces still hangs in the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta.
About 10 years ago, McKissick fell on hard times. The man whose friends call him a creative genius went through a divorce and eviction and suffered crippling anxiety. Those troubles, coupled with the rise of computer illustration, made McKissick quit painting.
“I lost the spark. I don’t know how to get it back," McKissick told The State.
A childhood friend allowed him to rent a room in his upstairs home free of charge. But the owner, Michael Schumpert Sr., had a car wreck in December, and his family now needs to sell the house. Schumpert's son, Michael, wrote the listing.
“We don’t really have much choice but to sell the house; my parents need to sell it,” the younger Schumpert told the newspaper. “But it’s been in the family for so long, we don’t really want to. And we want Randy to be able to stay there.”
The house is now off the market, but McKissick's two daughters are still looking for a new place for him to stay. Amber Albert told the paper her father's perfect home would have room for his cats and some studio space, so he might get his spark back and start painting again.
“I just want to paint again,” he said. “I just want to find that spark.”