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The home that once belonged to Dorothea Puente
Credit: Jeremy Sykes
Police uncovered 6 bodies buried in the yard of the home.
Credit: Jeremy Sykes KCRA
Police removing the remains of Dorothea Puente's prior tenants.
Credit: Associated Press
In 2013, the owners of the home hung a sign that read "trespassers will be drugged and buried in the yard", referencing Puente's crimes.
Dorothea Puente after her arrest.
Credit: Owen Brewer/Sacramento Bee/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Killer(s): Dorothea Puente,
Victim(s): Everson Gillmouth, Ruth Monroe, Leona Carpenter, Alvaro "Bert/Alberto" Gonzales Montoya, Benjamin Fink, Dorothy Miller, James Gallop, Vera Faye Martin, and Betty Palmer.,
Written by: Jewls Krueger
Dorothea Puente ran a boarding house in downtown Sacramento that often housed elderly and disabled people. From the outside, it appeared that Dorothea was doing a service to the community by giving people a place to live, but the reality of the situation was much more sinister.
When one of her tenants went missing, police visited Dorothea at the house and noticed that a portion of the yard had been recently dug up and re-filled in. Although when initially questioning Dorothea investigators didn't feel suspicious that she had done anything wrong, they proceeded to dig up the garden where they discovered a badly decomposed body. They kept digging through the garden and ultimately found seven bodies buried in the garden next to the home.
Since investigators initially didn't believe Dorothea was involved, she was allowed to leave the home. Investigators thought she had just gone to get a cup of coffee, but Dorothea had jumped into a cab and eventually made her way to Los Angeles. A manhunt for Dorothea ensued and she was arrested after trying to befriend an elderly man who recognized her from the TV reports.
Dorothea was charged with 9 murders, 8 of which were her tenants and one was a previous boyfriend of hers. Her trial began in October of 1992 and lasted a year due to the large amount of witnesses called by the prosecutor. The prosecution claimed that Dorothea would target the elderly and those that received government checks. She would purposefully give them an overdose of drugs, wrap their bodies in sheets, and bury them in the garden while she continued to collect their checks. Dorothea claimed that all of the boarders died of natural causes and that she was innocent.
After deliberating for a month, the jury found her guilty of only 3 murders, it seemed they were unconvinced that this woman who looked like a sweet grandmother could've committed all of the heinous murders. Dorothea was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and died in prison on March 27, 2011 of natural causes. She maintained her innocence throughout her time in prison.
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