Lenora Farrington, an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Virginia, was hosting an open house at Mariners Landing Subdivision in Huddleston this Saturday when a man came in and, after getting her attention, hit her over the head numerous times. Kathryn Bishop, who is Farrington’s friend and roommate, said that the attacker repeatedly struck at Farrington with a wrench.
“She was hit in the head 10 times with about a 12-inch-long crescent wrench,” Bishop told Inman. “I don’t even know how she’s alive. It’s unbelievable.”
The attack led to Farrington’s hospitalization at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital with several skull fractures and gaping head injuries. While Bishop confirmed that Farrington was released from the hospital earlier today, friends say that she faces a long and expensive recovery period — both due to medical bills and emotional trauma suffered from being attacked while working.
The police later arrested 34-year-old Dustin Holdren of Roanoke, Virginia, on charges of aggravated malicious wounding, defined as “malicious shooting, stabbing, cutting, or wounding of another person with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable or kill resulting in severe injury and permanent and significant physical impairment.”
“We don’t live in a major metropolitan area,” Bishop said, adding that she was shocked and gutted when she heard of her friend’s attack. “I am very sad but I am very grateful that she’s alive.”
In an outpouring of support, real estate professionals raised nearly $135,000 in a GoFundMe fundraiser started for Farrington over the weekend by friend and her Keller Williams boss and Realtor Teresa Grant.
“She will have extensive medical bills as well as emotional trauma for the rest of her life,” Grant wrote in the GoFundMe page. Grant also told local news that Holdren allegedly signed into the open home’s registry, chatted with Farrington, left when other viewers came in and then came back wielding a crescent wrench. She said that Farrington, who is a second-degree black belt, likely prevented what could have been an even more tragic outcome by fighting back against the attacker.
“She fought him,” Grant told the NBC-affiliated station. “I don’t know that I could have fought him like that. I mean, it’s amazing. She’s not a very big person. She’s just a small, you know, woman and he is a huge, huge guy.”
Right after the attack, the Roanoke Valley Association of Realtors sent out email and Facebook alerts advising members to stay safe and hold off on hosting any open houses for the time being. Walter Grewe, the association’s president, said that it sent waves of shock and grief throughout the community.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING INVESTIGATIONOn Saturday, June 20, 2020, at 1:53pm, the Bedford Emergency 911 Dispatch Center…
“It’s shocking and saddening to everyone in our area,” Grewe said, adding that they are extremely concerned about the prevalence of such attacks. “I just can’t wrap my head around to how you make the decision to attack somebody like that.”
While they encouraged agents to not host open houses alone and screen attendants, the association found that local homebuyers have been resistant toward providing an ID or meeting in the office before an open house. As a result, they have been trying, but struggling, to find a realistic way to prevent this type of attack in the future.
“We’re in a very intense market and inventory is about a third of what it normally is,” Grewe said. “Competition for these homes is unprecedented. It’s hard to say ‘I need you to come into the office so that I can get a copy of your driver’s license before I show you houses.'”
But with the frequency of such attacks and the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a growing chorus of industry voices arguing that open houses, which by their nature invite anyone who is interested to walk into a home, are too dangerous to be as frequent as they are now. Some believe that private showings with pre-qualified buyers, which are already the norm in luxury real estate, should be extended to all branches of the industry.