(One woman later discovered checks and jewelry missing from her home; her case played a part in Puentes 1982 arrest on theft charges.) Dorothea Puente after her arrest in Los Angeles, en route back to Sacramento. I am waiting for Dorothea Puente. [citation needed]. I had such a sick feeling, he says. Puente watched the images flicker across the TV screen in her Los Angeles motel room. Another tenant, John Sharp, backed her up. She attends services held at the prisons chapel, but avoids joining inmate worship groups. As the trial neared, Vicary found her in an agitated, paranoid state. But in the 1980s, their residence was a boarding house owned by Dorothea Puente, who killed her elderly and disabled tenants to steal their Social Security checks. [citation needed]. [4], Gray's first marriage at age sixteen, in 1945, was to a soldier named Fred McFaul, who had just returned from the Pacific theater of World War II. But 26 years after her conviction - and seven years after her death - a man who claims to Puente's grandson, William Harder, has stepped forward to reaffirm his grandmother's claim that she wasn't always bad. By 1948, McFaul asked for a divorce and Puente drifted south to California. It's been 20 years since Sacramento's most notorious murderer, Dorothea Puente, buried seven bodies in the garden of her F Street boardinghouse. She took it all Death is the only appropriate penalty. But while digging a second hole, Wilson heard a muted thud as his blade struck something hard three feet down. Some play Scrabble, Sorry! Pathologists testified that they hadnt been able to fix the cause of death for any of the corpses. I pass through the check-in station, a process that requires visitors to pull pants pockets inside-out, remove their shoes and lift their stocking feet for inspection by guards. That is a human quality that deserves to be preserved. She will send me the list in a few daysthe bill will total $114.70but I already know I wont oblige. She also suffered a miscarriage. That didnt seem right, but Dorothea had conned our whole family into thinking she was a nurse.. Dick Schmidt/Sacramento Bee/Tribune News Service via Getty Images. Explaining away the corpses in her yard, she says, Not one person who worked for me saw me doing anything wrong. I wondered if she maintained her innocence or felt bowed by remorse. After a number of legal hurdles, Puente's trial eventually went ahead four years later. Nonetheless, with decades to mull what she might say about her case, she sounds as unpersuasive now as during her plane ride from Los Angeles. Or about the white-haired woman who turned the yard into a mass grave. Theyve never talked to me. On another occasion, she casts her circumstance in a biblical light. [citation needed], O'Mara called over 130 witnesses; he argued to the jury that Puente had used sleeping pills to put her tenants to sleep, then suffocated them, and hired convicts to dig the holes in her yard. Isabel Vincent. Puente struck out on her own when she was 16. Barring an unexpected transfer to another prison or a medical emergency, she will die inside this compound. But to the end of her life, Dorothea Puente insisted that she was innocent and that she had been taking good care of the people under her charge. Puente cashed in the Social Security checks of the elderly and disabled boarders living in her house. As we talk on Valentines Day, I broach her long-ago brushes with the law, only to find myself stymied again. Puente claims she spent time in the 70s with California governors Pat Brown, Jerry Brown and Ronald Reagan. In the spring of 1948, Gray was arrested for purchasing women's accessories using forged checks in Riverside. A couple who braved the stigma of the house's curse purchased the home, fully aware of the history. Betty Palmer, 78. The 9/ . [2], Puente was born Dorothea Helen Gray on January 9, 1929, in Redlands, California, to Trudy Mae (ne Yates) and Jesse James Gray. Grandson of killer granny Dorothea Puente, who laced cakes with sleeping pills and then smothered them at her California boarding house, reveals how he shared a 'real connection' with her and . I dont want to be a burden on anyone.. However, Dorothea's outward demeanor was a smokescreen, concealing [] Infamous serial murderer . His head cocked to the side, he looks back at her, preparing to usher her past the crowd that looms outside the frame. Dorothea Puente fled to Los Angeles. A gentle bear of a man, the 52-year-old Montoya suffered from untreated psychosis, a condition that for years had consigned him to the streets and homeless shelters. Their relationship developed quickly, and the couple was soon making wedding plans. She donated to Hispanic arts and education programs while providing cheap medical care to her boarders and other patients, falsely claiming she had worked as a nurse in World War II. 'Never judge a book by its cover,' said retired police officer John Cabrera in 2018, the lead investigator on the case. [7] On August 18, 1982, Puente was convicted of three theft charges and sentenced to five years in prison; there, she began corresponding with Everson Gillmouth, a 77-year-old retiree from Oregon. I didnt need to kill anyone. Puente, meanwhile, was a model prisoner, often cooking for the other prisoners and guards her tamales, in particular, were much loved. At the time, she owned a solid reputation among Sacramentos social workers, who referred clients to her that other boardinghouses turned away: the mentally ill, recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, those with chronic physical maladies who had no one to care for them. Season 1 Episode 2 - Videos 1:11 Preview Dorothea Puente Runs From Police Now Playing Preview Granddaughter of Dorothea Puente Victim Talks About Her Disappearance More than 130 witnesses were called to the stand by the prosecution, and eventually the devilish landlady was convicted for three of the murderers and ordered to serve back-to-back life sentences. The police bulletin sent out after Puentes escape (Courtesy of John Cabrera), Throughout our meetings, Puente furtively points out inmates and comments on their crimes. Subscribe to Sactown Magazine . I think you can only truly understand why so many people testified and asked you to spare Dorothea's life only if you have ever fallen down and stumbled on the road of life and had someone pick you up, give you comfort, give you love, show you the way. [1] Sua contagem total chegou a nove assassinatos confirmados e seis no . Yet for all the local, national and international coverage of the bizarre case in ensuing years, the public heard virtually nothing from its main character. Federal probation officers visited her numerous times in the next two years without suspecting she ran a business, lulled by her kindly facade and clean home as much as by her lies that those staying at the house were friends or guests. But there were seven dead bodies in your yard. Today the 59-year-old Cabrera works cold cases for the department as a retired sergeant. Inmates eat breakfast and dinner in a dining hall separate from their building units; after breakfast, they receive a cold boxed lunch that they take back to their cells. The detective had yet to realize that, in the 59-year-old Puente, he had another serial killer on his hands. I dont give a shit what anyone else thinks., Did you like what you read here? The noise inside the prisons visitors hall amplifies on Valentines Day. She also mentions undergoing major cancer surgery in 1961 to remove her reproductive organs and part of her intestines and stomach. In November 1992, the same month jury selection started, she rejected a plea deal that would spare her the death penalty if she pleaded guilty to all nine murders. I stroll up the paved outdoor path that runs between the check-in station and the visitors hall, a walkway flanked with manicured rose bushes of the sort Puente once might have planted and pruned. (A charity she declines to name sends her $15 a month, her sole source of money.) Her lawyers argued that she might be a thief, but not a murderer. But Puente has lodged in his psyche as the rarest predator he confronted: in age, gender and disposition, she inhabits an extremely narrow strata of serial killers. Both have died, and police cleared them early in the investigation. These entities fall through the cracks, said Kathleen Lammers, executive director of the California Law Center on Longterm Care, about boarding houses like Puentes. Artifacts from the Dorothea Puente case splay out before him: a faded article published in a local Spanish newspaper with a black and white photo of a younger Puente; a pair of her mug shots, blue eyes dimmed and weary in both; a prescription label in her name for diazepam, a tranquilizer sold as Valium; the original wanted bulletin from Nov. 12, 1988, the day she went on the lam. Dorothea Puente spent much of the 1980's providing shelter for the elderly and infirm in her Sacramento boardinghouse. The candy proves popular with youngsters, whose sporadic laughter pierces the rooms hum. Published: 17:09 EST, 21 January 2019 | Updated: 17:42 EST, 21 January 2019, Dorothea Puente was arrested in 1988 after the dismembered bodies of seven residents were found in the garden of her home in Sacramento, California. Its like she was watching a movie she wasnt particularly interested in., Jury deliberations commenced in July 1993 and soon stalled. She turns to look at me. Been here 27 years. Dorothea Puente was a convicted serial killer who ran a boarding house in Sacramento, California in the 1980s. [10] According to investigators, most of her victims had been drugged until they overdosed; Puente then wrapped them in bed-sheets and plastic lining before dragging them to open pits in the backyard for burial. I just did, she says. At age 16, she drifted off on her own to Olympia, Wash. Comely and flaxen-haired, with soft blue eyes and a beguiling smile, she worked as a prostitute to earn money and caught the attention of Fred McFaul. After sixteen months, the couple separated, with Gray citing domestic abuse. Dorothea Puente's reign of terror began in 1982 when her friend, Ruth Monroe, was found dead in a boarding house Puente was running at that time. William Vicary spoke with Puente for the first time about two months after her arrest. Puente got the second-degree charge for Carpenter's death, as. Common sense says that if youve got [seven] people who have died in your house, somethings gone wrong, says Vlautin, who retired from the Sacramento Public Defenders Office in 2005. But as the police prepared to leave, Sharp slipped them a message. As reported by Dailymail, seven year after Puente's death, a man named William Harder had claimed to be his grandson. I wonder if the tenants know about the homes notorious history. In Olympia, Washington, she tried to make a living as a prostitute. [6], Following her divorce, Gray focused on running a boarding house located at 21st and F streets in Sacramento. Dorothea Puente, ne Dorothea Helen Gray, was born on January 9, 1929, in Redlands, California. Puente was convicted in. On Nov. 11, 1988, acting on the concerns of a social worker looking for a client who had disappeared, homicide detectives dropped by the mans last known address: a boardinghouse for derelicts and the mentally ill that Puente operated at 1426 F Street, within a mile of the Hall of Justice and the Capitol. Between 1982 and 1989, Puente would take in the vulnerable and homeless people. Drab and worn, the space, about the size of a single-car garage, has scuffed concrete flooring, dull fluorescent lighting and two windows; one faces a grassy prison courtyard, the other an interior hallway. As jury foreman Mike Esplin recalls, the man simply said, Thats all Im going to give. Puentes composure cracked after the last verdict was read.