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Home Inspector Killed On the Job
by Kendra Budd, Associate Editor
What started out as a “run of the mill” home inspection—ended in a home inspector losing his life and a total of four people being shot.
Michael Alderson, a 66-year-old home inspector based in Anaheim, CA, was tragically murdered on an inspection due to a family dispute over the home he was hired to inspect. Unbeknownst to him, two siblings had been fighting over the home and when Alderson arrived to inspect, he was shot.
This story has sent shockwaves throughout the home inspection community and entire real estate profession. Alderson was highly regarded by his family, friends and the many real estate professionals he worked within his 20-plus year career as a home inspector.
Here’s how it happened.
The shooter’s father, Victor Nemeth, left behind a couple of children, including his son Roger Nemeth. Roger took care of his father on a 24/7 basis during Victor’s final years—with Roger living in the house as a caregiver. When the father passed, Roger assumed that the house would be going to him. Unfortunately, the senior Nemeth never left a last will and testament. After Victor’s passing, Roger’s sister wanted to sell the house despite the fact Roger still lived there. Roger refused to move, so his sister took him to probate court, which ruled in her favor. Roger was subsequently asked to leave the home. What started as a simple family dispute—led to murder.
A Quick Inspection
Michael Alderson, owner of Inspectall Property in Anaheim, CA was hired to perform an inspection on the morning of August 7th, 2021. He had been a home inspector for over 20 years and was 66 years old.
While the shooting was reported by a variety of local and national news outlets, the details surrounding what exactly happened (and how) have remained unavailable until now. In an interview with Working RE Home Inspector, Sherry Biggers, Michael Alderson’s wife, agreed to share additional information on the tragic events of that morning as well as provide insight into who Alderson was, how he lived his life, and the legacy that he leaves behind.
Biggers says that the week leading up to the tragedy had been blissful and Alderson had taken the week off to spend it with her and their granddaughters. “We had an awesome week with two of our granddaughters who were visiting us from out of state. Mike had their week packed full of activities—we went to Knottsberry Farm, we went to a concert, and we went to the fair. That Saturday, August 7, was actually our last day with our granddaughters,” reports Biggers.
Alderson had planned to perform a quick home inspection in the morning and then meet his wife and two granddaughters for lunch at the beach at Noon that day. Biggers says she waited at the beach for Alderson until the afternoon, hoping that he had just gotten tied up at work. “I was texting him and calling him. At first I thought, ‘Maybe he’s busy. Maybe this, maybe that.’ And so, at one o’clock he didn’t show, and then two o’clock came around—I started getting scared. Maybe I was in denial but I didn’t want to think anything bad,” says Biggers.
It wouldn’t be until 7 p.m. that night that police officers, along with the coroner, arrived on Biggers doorsteps to share the tragic news with her and her granddaughters.
A Deadly Meeting
According to Biggers, Alderson had arrived at the property that morning to perform the home inspection and was met by the buyer’s agent, the seller’s agent, and Roger Nemeth’s sister. The buyer had not yet arrived but in the meantime, Alderson and the others tried to open the front door using the key, but when they pushed on it, it wouldn’t open.
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Biggers reports that Roger Nemeth had barricaded himself in the home before the group’s arrival and is believed to have put something blocking the front door that prevented them from pushing it open. Not being able to enter the front door, the group decided to go around to the backyard to see if they could get in through the back door.
Deciding to get to work, Alderson began inspecting the exterior of the home and had stopped to take a closer look at one of the windows. One of the real estate agents was reportedly standing right next to Alderson when the first gunshot went off. “Mike grabbed his chest, he looked at the real estate agent and told her, ‘I’ve been shot,'” reports Biggers.
Once the agent realized what had happened, she screamed and told the others to run. As they ran toward the front yard, a flurry of gunfire followed. Roger Nemeth fired multiple gunshots and continued firing out of another window as the group retreated—hitting both his sister and the other agent—both of whom survived from non-life-threatening injuries.
The City of Huntington Beach Police Department, as well as the SWAT team, were dispatched to the scene and quickly evacuated all three victims, transporting them to the hospital and putting the neighborhood on lockdown. After an hours-long back and forth between the suspect and police, Nemeth emerged from the home with a gunshot wound of unknown origin. He, like the others, was transported to the hospital. However, the inspector Alderson was pronounced dead at the hospital that afternoon due to severe blood loss resulting from the gunshot wound to his chest. His loss has left his family devastated and traumatized.
How Home Inspectors Can Stay Safe
What can we learn from this tragic event? Keith Vreeken, professional home inspector and President of the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA), shares his insights about home inspector safety as it relates to Alderson’s murder. “Realistically, this case was ‘wrong place, wrong time’ and has nothing to do with what the home inspector did specifically,” says Vreeken. However, he does warn that there are potential dangers, which could lead to an outcome like this one, that home inspectors need to be prepared for.
Usually home inspectors get the chance to look into potential threats before it turns dangerous. “It’s a good reminder to be aware of your surroundings, or what we call situational awareness. The number one defensive component you have is your feet. If a homeowner or tenant turns hostile, it is better to leave the situation rather than try to defuse it. It is not a home inspector’s place to try and calm the situation down. We are taught to look out for certain conditions like that, then we just walk away,” Vreeken advises.
In fact, Vreeken has also found himself in dangerous situations, including entering a home where squatters had moved in. Thankfully, in Vreeken’s case, the squatters decided to run rather than attack. Additionally, Vreeken says he’s encountered situations where sellers become very defensive and even hostile when he is pointing out defects to his buyer clients. In cases like that, Vreeken recommends pulling the client aside and telling them they’ll meet them at another place later to review the inspection report because “we know that situation can be hostile,” says Vreeken.
While what happened to Alderson is very rare, this is a good reminder to stay cautious, on your feet, and aware of your surroundings at all times.
Biggers says that Alderson was a home inspector who took safety seriously and wants to encourage all real estate professionals to be mindful. A real estate agent herself, Biggers says she now asks for a disclosure from sellers regarding any conflicts or disputes that may be going on—and she urges others in the industry to do the same. That way, if there is a family dispute or other conflict brewing over the property, she can be made aware and use her own judgement if it is a safe situation to enter.
In summary, here are some good safety tips for home inspectors:
• Be conscious of your surroundings.
• Make sure someone knows where you are and for how long.
• Never enter any situation that you consider dangerous.
• Be mindful of property disputes and avoid them whenever possible.
• Never allow anyone to coerce you to do something you are uncomfortable with.
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Honoring Alderson’s Legacy
It is very important to Biggers that her husband be remembered for the incredible man that he was. “I want people to know how great he was. He was the most amazing person that I could have ever met in my life. I could have never asked for a better partner. I don’t even feel like I could have deserved someone like him. He was an amazing dad, an amazing son, grandpa, partner. He just loved his job. I can rave on about him forever. I lost my very, very best friend in all the world,” says Biggers.
Alderson’s life touched everyone he met, Biggers says. Over 300 people came to Alderson’s celebration of life—including kids he coached in t-ball, dozens of real estate agents, and many other friends and professionals that had been impacted by him.
Home inspection was more than just a job to Alderson—it was his passion Biggers says. In fact, that’s how they met in 2002. “When I first met him, he was my home inspector when I purchased my first house and he turned into a wonderful friend. We had a great friendship before it even turned into a partnership,” Biggers reflected. He ended up asking her out, but at the time Biggers was engaged. After that marriage ended, the two finally got together in 2012, and later married. Alderson inspired Biggers to become a real-estate agent, and the couple were together 24/7 working side by side in the industry.
Justice for Alderson
Roger Nemeth has been charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder. At his pre-trial hearing, he pled not-guilty to all charges, perhaps preparing to claim self-defense since some members of the group were attempting to enter the back door of the home. Nemeth currently has a 2-million-dollar bail and is awaiting trial.
Biggers says that she still wants to see Roger Nemeth brought to justice. She found out recently that he could possibly still get his share of profits from the sale of the house, which doesn’t sit right with her. “I think the money should go to the Victims Advocate, because it is incredibly costly for them to care for the victims of such senseless violence, including providing counseling services to me and my family.” A majority of Sherry’s family is currently in therapy due to this incident. Biggers says her grandchildren are terrified that she, or others in the family, could be murdered as well. But more than that, she wants to see Nemeth prosecuted for his crimes.
Biggers is trying to use this tragedy for good, because she believes that is what Alderson would have wanted. “He would really want people to use this for good. To be educated on safety. He would try to protect people. If somebody would have told him that this was a dangerous situation, maybe he wouldn’t have tried to go to the backyard,” says Biggers.
In fact, Biggers has also started posting about safety on her social media platforms, because she believes Alderson would want her to help keep others safe. “He would want me to use this for good instead of being bitter. I think that’s what he would have wanted—to make sure that nobody has to go through something like this again,” says Biggers.
The one thing Sherry wants people to learn from this is, “To learn from this and take care of ourselves. We all have to be more cautious.”
This is a developing story and Roger Nemeth’s court case is scheduled to be tried in mid-2022. Be sure to subscribe to Working RE’s online newsletter at WorkingRE.com for the latest home inspection news and information! (Visit WorkingRE.com to subscribe.) Stay safe out there!
About the Author
Kendra Budd is the Associate Editor and Marketing Coordinator for Working RE magazine. She graduated with a BA in Theatre and English from Western Washington University, and with an MFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. She is currently based in Seattle, WA.
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