20 years ago: Realtor killed showing PHX house

Posted at 8:27 AM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-09 13:23:09-05

The family of a young realtor, who was murdered working at an open house, wants changes in the real estate industry to keep women safe.

22-year-old Michelle Anglin was murdered 20 years ago by James Van Adams.

Adams attacked Michelle when she was showing a model home to Adams.

Michelle’s mother, Peggy Cohen-McCall, was also a realtor at the time. She says her daughter got into the industry because of her.

“I think of her every single day,” said Cohen-McCall. “I am not able to think of the good times. I can only think of the bad times and how scared she had to have been and I wasn't there to hold her and make her fears go away.”

After her daughter’s death, Cohen-McCall, says she was let go from her job because she spoke out about the dangers women face working alone at open houses and in model homes.

According to The Arizona Association of Realtors there are no required safety measures for Arizona Realtors but many builders and agencies do provide a variety of resources and safety tips.

Employment Attorney and Northern Arizona University law professor Doug Janicik says employers are required to provide a safe working environment under OSHA but when it comes to workplace violence --- the agency rarely steps in.

Janicik says even though the term OSHA is commonly used, in Arizona the acting state agency is called the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, which falls under the Industrial Commission of Arizona.

“This is in their realm of things to change,” said Janicik. “It's just getting them to start thinking  -- wait a minute there are other ways that employees can get injured, especially female employees, and we can take action.”

Michelle’s older sister Cindy Scott wants the industry to make changes to make sure what happened to Michelle, won’t happen to anyone else.

“Essentially her death in the industry meant nothing because they have made zero change,” said Scott.

Scott now teaches self-defense skills to realtors through an organization called MLC Safety Matters.

Scott offered these tips:

1.    Recognize the Inherent Dangers in the Profession: Sexual Predators are Drawn to Realtors

a.     Realtors are “accessible” targets, they work alone in isolate areas (e.g., model homes, open houses, vacant homes)

2.    Stay Informed: Know How Agents are Attacked

a.     Predators lure agents to an isolated area, such as a vacant home or isolated model home

b.     Often appearing as a home buyer, husband and father

c.      Stay current on crime trends and suspicious people visiting realtors

3.    Implement Safety Protocol

4.    Use your Cell Phone as a Virtual Partner 

5.    Stay Aware and Follow Your Instincts

a.     Do not turn your back on the buyer or be prevented from escaping

b.     Stay close to the front door

c.      If a situation does not “feel right,” leave immediately