Nfld. & Labrador·CBC Investigates

Notorious numbers: In 3 years, the RNC has been called at least 112 times to 74 Springdale St.

The house has been the scene of a home invasion, a shooting and a stabbing, but Tony Pike says he can't control the people who associate with his tenants.

'It's not an easy job, it's not an easy task,' landlord says of renting to those no one else wants

Two plainclothes officers enter 74 Springdale St. on Feb. 24, after a reported stabbing. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

When Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers went to 74 Springdale St. in downtown St. John's over the weekend to investigate a stabbing, it was at least their 112th call for service there since the beginning of 2015.

That's an average of one call every 10 days, according to police statistics obtained by CBC Investigates through access to information.

That one home on Springdale Street has been the scene of a home invasion, a shooting, a domestic assault and a stabbing — all in the past three years.

It's become a notorious address, with complaints from neighbours and victims of crimes there.

But Tony Pike, the homeowner and landlord, says he has no idea why there have been so many problems at that specific location.

"I've got 63 tenants [around St. John's], so why is it targeted towards this particular property? I don't know," he said. 

"We're flooded with drug problems and drug issues."

Tony Pike owns several properties around St. John's, but says he only has trouble with one: 74 Springdale St. (Traci Lynn Pike/Facebook)

Pike often rents to people leaving jail, who are struggling with addictions and hang around a dangerous crowd, he said.

Meanwhile, Pike says his other houses have been mostly incident-free.

He takes issue with any suggestion he is a "slumlord," saying if it weren't for his houses, many of his tenants would be homeless.

"It's because the justice system does not take care of the people going out [of jail]," Pike said.

"But at the end of the day, everyone needs a place to live."

Pike said he provides a service others can't, or won't.

"I don't provide them with Buckingham Palace places, because of the nature of these people," Pike said.

"But I do provide them with adequate home living, safe environment, to city standards. Obviously, the city is on my back, all the time. So everything is up to standards from the city's point of view. I just can't control what goes in that, after hours. It's a drug world issue."

And that's an issue Pike says no one has been able to solve. 

Pizza delivery results in car theft

When Josh Cook arrived at the home to deliver a pizza on Jan. 20 of last year, he had no idea he was about to become a footnote in a series of crimes and police investigations related to the house.

He also didn't know he'd place one of those 112 calls to the police.

Josh Cook had his car stolen when he arrived at 74 Springdale St. last winter to deliver a pizza. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

There was a blizzard that night, so Cook parked his car outside the home and left it running as he went to the door.

But nobody in any of the three apartments said they'd ordered a pizza.

After checking the last apartment, he heard an engine revving and ran outside in time to see his car speed away with his cellphone left inside.

Two days later, Cook found his car parked in the middle of the street directly outside the home with the four-way signal lights flashing.

Shooting lands full house in hot water

Moments after Cook discovered his car had been stolen, he says a grey-haired man walked up to the front step. When he asked if he had a phone he could use, the man just shoved him against the wall.

Cook alleged that man was Harold Noftall, one of four people charged with aggravated assault in a shooting that happened 11 days after the car theft.

Noftall and his partner, Mabel Stanley, were convicted in a scheme that saw a 21-year-old man lured to their apartment by sexual text messages from 19-year-old Rebecca Murphy.

Harold Noftall and Mabel Stanley have been sentenced for their involvement in a shooting on Springdale Street in St. John's in January 2017. (CBC)

When the victim arrived, he was plastic-wrapped to a chair and beaten. When he made a break for it, he was shot by Murphy's 16-year-old boyfriend.

All the people involved were living in the house, but Pike says Stanley was the only actual tenant.

According to Cook, the name and phone number on the receipt for the pizza matched the name of the 16-year-old shooter, but he said the phone number used to place the order belonged to the victim of the shooting.

Despite his belief that someone in the house stole his car, nobody was ever charged.

Women found in alleyway, neighbour says

Alex Power, a homeowner just up the street, also placed one of those 911 calls.

He heard a disturbance one night in the alley next to his house.

When he went outside to see what was going on, he found two women cowering beside his fence. They told him they were hiding from a man at 74 Springdale St.

Alex Power owns a home nearby and says he is tired of one home giving the entire street a bad reputation. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Power decided not to call the police for previous incidents, but felt he had no choice this time.

"I had to call the RNC," he said.

On April 20, 2017, the police arrested a 41-year-old man and charged him with aggravated assault of a 43-year-old woman at 74 Springdale St. Court documents allege the woman was beaten with a chair.

It's not clear if the incident is related to the women Power found bleeding near his home.

With all that's happened, Power says he is fed up with the bad reputation the entire street is getting for one house.

"When people are getting shot and stabbed, that's when you kinda worry and wonder, 'Can something be done?'"

'I'm just one of the people who take them in'

The owner of 74 Springdale St. wonders the same thing.

Pike has been a landlord in the city for 25 years, and says he's seen his rental houses go in cycles of good and bad tenants.

"It's not an easy job. It's not an easy task," he said. 

"It's a vicious circle. They come to my place, they end up in the penitentiary, they leave the penitentiary and they end up back at my place."

Pike grew up with parents who fostered more than 50 children, he said, always taking in new kids when they needed a place to go.

Despite frustrations with the tenants he's had in the last few years, he still tries to see the good in people.

He says they all have problems, but nine out of 10 of them are good.

"I believe everyone should have a chance in life," Pike said.

Tony Pike says he gives people a decent place to live — albeit 'not Buckingham Palace' — and doesn't understand why this one house causes so much trouble. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

But whenever his wife sees someone in court wearing shackles on the news, she asks if it's one of his tenants.

"Ninety per cent of the time, she's right. But the government should have a little more control over them, too," he said. 

"Government has an obligation to house them and I'm just one of those people who [takes] them in."

As for the long list of calls the RNC gets, Pike says he feels sorry for them and appreciates the job they do. He gets frustrated when he sees people get a slap on the wrist for crimes they've committed in his home, he said.

But he will continue to fix up the house when it's battered by tenants, and he'll keep renting to people leaving the prison system with nowhere else to go.

He has new tenants moving into 74 Springdale St. right now, and he hopes the problems at that property will soon end.

"I'm willing to help the ones who want to help themselves," Pike said. 

About the Author

Ryan Cooke works for CBC out of its bureau in St. John's.