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The landlady of the death inn disguised as an ‘angel’

AmericaDorothea Puente opens a charity inn for the elderly, disabled and infirm in Sacramento, California, but the guests here keep disappearing one by one.

Dorothea Puente (or Dorothea Gray) was born in 1929 in the city of Redlands, California. Dorothea had a difficult childhood, her mother was an alcoholic and died when she was 10 years old, and her father died when she was 8 years old. Dorothea spent her teenage years in foster homes and orphanages, experiencing sexual abuse.

At 16, Dorothea started selling sex, then met and married a World War II veteran. She had two children but gave up raising them, separating from her first husband in 1948.

Dorothea then slipped into broken marriages and had many criminal records. She served 4 months in prison for writing fake checks, 90 days in prison for being caught in a brothel.

Dorothea opened an unlicensed boarding house during the 70’s, catering to the disabled, elderly and homeless. However, she secretly stole their welfare money, was convicted in 1978 and given five years’ probation.

After that, Dorothea began to build a more dignified and dignified image with mature clothes and makeup to become a caretaker at home. She drugged three elderly female patients, stealing their money and valuables. The scam got her in jail in 1982 for 5 years.

Dorothea was released early in 1985, after a state psychiatrist diagnosed her with schizophrenia. The doctor assessed that Dorothea is a dangerous woman, showing no remorse or remorse for what she has done, her living and working environment needs to be closely monitored.

Dorothea was arrested on November 17, 1988.  Photo: Sacramento Bee

Dorothea was arrested on November 17, 1988. Image: Sacramento Bee

Freed, Dorothea opened a second inn at 1426 F St. in Sacramento. She continued to accept the poor and disadvantaged in society, give them a roof, and help them eat, drink, and receive treatment.

To many people, Dorothea is like a kind angel or sweet grandmother. However, this is just a cover to hide his true identity as a cold-blooded killer for money. The motel helped her siphon money from the less fortunate by stealing their social security and disability benefits cards, then making them disappear.

The continuous disappearances only attracted the attention of the police when Bert Montoya, a man with an intellectual disability, was reported missing.

Mr. Bert was taken to Dorothea’s motel by a community adviser from the American Volunteers organization, who later discovered Bert disappeared in October 1988. After hearing Dorothea make up various stories to cover up, the counselor informed the police.

A policeman came to the inn, and at the same time questioned Dorothea and a tenant. The tenant spoke well of Dorothea, but then secretly handed the police a note accusing Dorothea of ​​forcing her to lie. This person informed the police that Dorothea hired prisoners to dig holes in the yard and fill them with concrete, saying that another lodger had disappeared mysteriously.

Months ago, authorities were told that Dorothea murdered and buried the tenants, but they dismissed the charge because the informant was addicted to drugs.

Police searched the house on 11/11/1988 but found nothing. The next day, the police continued to check the backyard of the inn and suggested digging the yard. Dorothea agrees, even providing them with a shovel. She then asked the police for permission to go have tea with her grandson at a nearby hotel.

After some digging, police quickly found several decomposing body parts. But now Dorothea, 59 years old, has disappeared.

Police tracked down and found her after four days at a motel in California. Dorothea struck up a conversation and drank at a bar with a man after learning he was receiving disability benefits. This man saw Dorothea behaving strangely, then realized she was a wanted suspect, so he informed the police.

In total, 7 bodies were found in the courtyard of Dorothea’s inn. The victims include: Dorothy Miller, a 64-year-old veteran who died in October 1987; Leona Carpenter, a seriously ill widow who died in 1987; Benjamin Fink, a 55-year-old alcoholic, died in April 1988; Bert Montoya died in 1988; Betty Palmer, 78 years old; James Gallop, 62 years old; and Vera Faye Martin, 64 years old.

Police dug Dorothea's motel yard and found seven bodies.  Photo: AP

Police dug Dorothea’s motel yard and found seven bodies. Image: AP

But Dorothea’s first victim was not one of the lodgers. Ruth Monroe, 61, a Dorothea salesman, died suddenly of a drug overdose in 1982, shortly before Dorothea was arrested for drugging three elderly patients. Ruth had just moved in with Dorothea three weeks before her death, but police were unable to determine whether it was murder or suicide.

Everson Gillmouth is believed to be the next victim. Mr. Everson began a friendship with Dorothea while she was in prison and fell in love with a seemingly gentle woman. After Dorothea was released, Everson moved in with her. In 1986, Everson’s body was found in a makeshift coffin near the Sacramento River.

Dorothea was tried in 1989 for nine murders. Prosecutors allege she pocketed more than $87,000 from the scam. In court, she sat completely motionless, emotionless and denied any murder charges.

The charges against Dorothea are mainly based on circumstantial evidence, which is her criminal past and the corpses at the inn. All of the victims died from a cocktail of various drugs, including the tranquilizer Dalmane. Meanwhile, Dorothea obtained dozens of prescriptions in the name of helping seriously ill tenants sleep. However, it is difficult to determine whether she poisoned the tenants or took a fatal drug overdose themselves.

Dorothea with a lawyer on a court in 1989. Photo: Nypost

Dorothea with a lawyer on a court in 1989. Photo: Nypost

In 1993, Dorothea was found guilty of only three murders and sentenced to life in prison. In prison, she spent time visiting church, reading, watching TV, and even wrote a cookbook called Cooking with a Serial Killerreleased in 2004.

Dorothea died at the age of 82 in 2011.

Tue Anh (According to Oxygen, LATimes)

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