Murder Kroger would like to be called Beltline Kroger now. Well, if it still existed, it would like to.
Before its was demo'd, they were spiffing the place up, connecting it to the Beltline with a ramp and building a "water quality pond." But the public relations team for the 30-year-old grocery store at 725 Ponce de Leon Avenue still had a tough time convincing Atlantans to drop the homicidal moniker. "Murder Kroger" is ingrained in Atlanta culture.
It has a Facebook page, website, a Wikipedia entry and even its own song by Attractive Eighties Women. When Conan O'Brien and his team visited Atlanta, they wrote a post titled "Murder Kroger!" on the TeamCoco blog, explaining, "from the condom wrappers in the parking lot to the unrefrigerated crab legs in the back... Murder Kroger did not disappoint." It's not a nickname that's going to be easily changed. But where did it come from anyway?
There are actually two answers to the question. One explains how the store earned the name in the first place; the other, why it persists to this day...
Let's start with the less bleak one: The place has a sketchy reputation. Although decidedly less stabby than it once was (or as Atlanta Banana put it: "Murder Kroger Pleads Down to Aggravated Assault"), the area is not exactly Disneyland when it comes to crime stats, and the store itself, while better after recent renovations, has been serving up horrifying experiences since 1984.
When asked to list the creepiest thing that had ever happened to them while shopping at the rundown supermarket, the responses of Murder Kroger's Facebook fans included accounts of muggings and carjackings in the parking lot, a guy peeing in the ice cream aisle, mysterious blood in the bathroom, prostitutes, drug deals, crackheads and used condoms trailed across the ground like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs.
Still, in the end, this reason for the pseudonym is all in good fun and allows people to make dark but well-intentioned digs (Online reviews like, "It's like they are trying to kill me with savings.") based on the store's dodgy reputation amongst shoppers. This one is almost certainly why the name endures.
The reason the it came about in the first place is far less light-hearted and much more tragic. In short: murders.
The first, and likely the one that originally earned the store its macabre moniker, happened in 1991. On April 3, the AJC reported that a 25-year-old woman was shot and killed in the parking lot after spraying her attacker with mace. A second dreadful incident occurred in 2002 when a dead body was found in a car in the parking lot.
Journalist Elizabeth Williams Faas told The Plug: "I remember pulling into the back entrance of the store after work one night and being instantly overwhelmed by the stench of what I assumed had to have been a dumpster full of expired meat. You can imagine how horrified I was when I saw the headline Man Found Dead in Kroger Parking Lot move across the AP wire."
The location of a third death is technically the Ford Factory Lofts, but the victim, a 20-year-old Georgia State junior, was in the breezeway, just steps from the parking lot that the lofts share with Kroger, when he was murdered in 2012.