There has been an outpouring of support for struggling artist Randall McKissick, tenant of what had been called the “creepy” or “nightmare” house in Cayce.
McKissick’s story went viral last week, after the owner of the house posted an ad on the online listing service Zillow. The ad said the house’s upstairs apartment “cannot be shown under any circumstances.” It said the 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.)”
The State met with McKissick, 70, after the ad ran, and found him anything but creepy. He is a once world-renowned painter and illustrator who fell on hard times after a divorce, health issues and other setbacks.
After the profile ran, McKissick’s daughter, Amber Albert, and Michael Schumpert Jr., the son of the ailing homeowner, received dozens of offers of help, mostly people wanting to commission paintings or repair and clean the house.
For instance, Cayce Mayor Elise Partin is rallying support in the small town of 13,000 people.
The mayor said she is “reaching out to churches and neighborhood associations to see if they can fix up the house so Randall can stay and the owners can have some much-needed rental income while keeping the house in the family.”
There have also been inquiries from across the country, including from a representative of A&E’s television series “Hoarders.”
“However, we want to protect dad’s privacy and the A&E gig, especially, may be very invasive,” Albert said.
Schumpert said the house was built by his grandfather in 1950. His father, Michael Schumpert Sr., bought it from a sister for $52,000 in 1997.
The elder Schumpert, a Baptist minister living in Mount Pleasant, is a life-long friend of McKissick. The house is divided into three apartments. About a decade ago, when McKissick was facing eviction from his river-side studio, Schumpert Sr. let him live in the upstairs apartment for free.
In December, Schumpert Sr. was in a car wreck and hospitalized for five months. His wife is disabled, and the Schumperts need income from the home to offset the family’s expenses. But the house has fallen into disrepair and the family can’t rent out the other two apartments.
That’s how the Zillow ad to sell the house “as is” with the mystery tenant intact came to be.
“I’ve had people offering to help fix it up, which we are trying to sort out with Randy’s family but don’t have any buyers,” Schumpert Jr. said Thursday.
McKissick’s two daughter and their husband are huddling with Schumpert to weigh their options, Albert said. But their main concern, as it has been all along, is taking care of McKissick.
“The biggest help we need right now is someone to help us help dad just manage his life: meds, doctors’ appointments, money, grocery shopping, eating well, cleaning up,” she said. “That’s what we spend most of our time on.”
But the family also wants to renew McKissick’s “spark,” as he puts it, to paint. About a dozen people have inquired about buying paintings or offering commissions. But he has no studio to paint in.
“For so long he’s been out of practice, so to speak, in handling these things,” Albert said. “But we want to see dad get back to what he loves to do.”