Belle Gunness(Black Widow): Most Known Women Serial Killer, Killed her Children & Suitors! Know Why?
Infamous as the "Bluebeard in skirts", Belle Gunness became America's one of the most dreaded serial killers. Born in Selbu, Norway in 1859 and later she shifted to America. Belle Gunness came to prominence in 1908 when her house at La Porte burned to ashes.
Belle Gunness came to America in search of wealth in 1883. Not long after she married Mads Albert Sorenson, their candy store and house mysteriously burned down. They claimed the insurance money for both. Later, Sorenson died of heart failure on the day his two life insurance policies overlapped. Belle claimed money from both the policies.
Several deaths followed after it. Including the infant daughter of Peter Gunness, her new husband. And later Peter himself was announced dead due to a skull injury. She then began meeting suitors through a love column.
One of the columns from Midwestern Norwegian Newspaper went like this, "Personal — comely widow who owns a large farm in one of the finest districts in La Porte County, Indiana, desires to make the acquaintance of a gentleman equally well provided, with a view of joining fortunes. No replies by letter considered unless the sender is willing to follow the answer with a personal visit. Triflers need not apply."
Her suitors were the next target who bought their savings along with them. She would separate them from their money, insurance, and property. And then poison them, chop off their arms and legs and bury them in her farm. John Moo, Henry Gurholdt, Olaf Svenherud, Olfa Lindbloom to name just a few.
At least 10 men answered the column, but years of investigation suggests that it was not 10 but at least twice of the same number.
The hired man at the Gunness farm, Ray Lamphere, was so smitten by the activities and doings of Belle, that he was ready to become her accomplice. But being a liability to Gunness, he threatened her when she jilted his affections towards her. So she decided to disappear and set the stage for his involvement in the killings. Belle Gunness visited her attorney to set a will and she told him tearfully that she doesn't have much time left.
The following day, the house raged in a fire and burned it down. Police concluded that the charred was of Belle (with "missing" head) and of her three children. Lamphere was arrested on the charges of murder and arson. But later, on he was exculpated from the charges of murder.
Before dying Lamphere revealed a few things that made police certain about the activities of Belle Gunness. He confessed that Belle had placed the advertisements only to rob and murder the man who responded and then visited the farm.
Lamphere further added that the body found in the house was not of Gunness but of a murder victim and that Belle asked him to burn the house with her children still inside it.
After burning down La Porte, police were contacted by Asle Helgelien. He had found the correspondence between his brother and Gunness. The letter stated about his brother's relocation to La Porte, to bring him money and to keep the move a secret.
After a visit to the farm by Asle accompanied by a former hired hand and his shift of attention to a "soft depression", police recovered many burlap sacks full of amputated arms, feet and heads. Some other sacks were full of torsos and masses of human bones that were wrapped in loose flesh. Almost all the victims were mutilated and murdered in the same way.
The Chicago Inter-Ocean in Mental Floss noted that "The bones had been crushed on the ends, as though they had been... struck with hammers after they were dismembered... [and that] Quicklime had been scattered over the faces and stuffed in the ears."
Despite the excavation of all the body parts and the mass coverage of the event, most of the bodies were unidentified. It was reported that at least 40 men were brutally murdered and buried, but the actual is still unknown.
What happened after? (The Conclusion)
When investigators recovered the body and Ray Lamphere asserted the fact that it was not Belle Gunness, many reports of Belle sightings started surfacing across the country. One of the notable events took place in Los Angeles.
A woman named Esther Carlson was acquitted of poisoning a man for financial gain. She was the same age that Gunness would have been. But the authorities believed that Gunness fled after burning her house and her death still remains a mystery.