Presentation on theme: "Belle Gunness The Serial Killer. A Serial Killer Experts don't agree on an exact definition of a serial killer but general definitions are based on numbers."— Presentation transcript:
A Serial Killer Experts don't agree on an exact definition of a serial killer but general definitions are based on numbers and patterns: two or more unrelated victims in distinctly separate incidents. Serial killers suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder and can appear normal or charming, sometimes referred to as the "mask of sanity." Sometimes there is a sexual element to the murders and they may have a commonality such as gender, occupation, appearances, race, etc.
Belle Gunness Brynhild Paulsdatter Størseth, later known as Belle Gunness, was born on November 11, 1859, in Selbu, Norway and died April 28, 1908 in La Porte, Indiana. In 1877, Gunness attended a country dance while pregnant. There she was attacked by a man who kicked her in the stomach, causing her to lose the child. According to people who knew her, her personality changed markedly. The man who attacked her died only shortly after. The cause of death was said to be stomach cancer. She soon moved to the US and was desperate for money.
The First Victim In 1884, Gunness married Mads Ditlev Anton Sorenson in Chicago who soon owned an unsuccessful confectionary store together. The store burned down in a mysterious fire, and the insurance money was collected. Years later in 1898, their home burned down and the insurance money was soon collected. On July 30, 1900, the only day that two life insurance policies on him overlapped, her husband was killed from “heart failure”. 8,500 dollars worth of insurance money was collected the day after his funeral by Belle.
Family #1 While married to Mads Ditlev Anton Sorenson, Belle also had four children, Caroline, Axel, Myrtle and Lucy. Caroline and Axel died in infancy, allegedly of acute colitis. The symptoms of acute colitis, which are nausea, fever, diarrhea, lower abdominal pain and cramping, are also symptoms of many forms of poisoning. Both children were insured and the insurance company was paid off.
Family #2 Belle met Peter Gunness, a Norwegian living in La Porte, and married him on April 1, 1902. One week after the ceremony, Peter's infant daughter died (of uncertain causes) while alone in the house with Belle. In December 1902, Peter allegedly died working in a shed when part of a sausage-grinding machine fell from a high shelf, split his skull open and killed him instantly. 4,000 dollars of insurance was collected.
Family #2 continued Jennie Olsen, Belle Gunness’ adopted daughter told a classmate that she had seen her mother kill her father. Jennie denied this statement to the Court, and with much persuasion, the charges for murder against Belle were dropped. Jennie soon “went to Lutheran College.” Her body was later found in Belle Gunness’ back yard.
Belle Gunness started putting ads in newspapers asking for wealthy, widowed men to come live with her on her farm. Many men came to her farm with pockets full of cash, and were no longer seen. Belle would order large boxes regularly that would be delivered to her home. Ray Lamphere, her handyman at the time, would often dig holes in the back of her yard as seen by her neighbors.
Gunness soon fired Ray Lamphere, and accused him of threatening her and her children on numerous occasions. Gunness pressed charges against Lamphere and set up a will leaving all her money to her children. Asle Helgelien, the brother of Andrew Helgelien who was one of the widows who came to see Gunness, grew suspicious when he had not heard back from his brother. Asle came to La Porte, Indiana to investigate his brothers disappearance.
Joe Mason, the new handyman, awoke to a fire in the middle of the night and jumped out of his window. There were four bodies found in the house once the fire was put out: one headless woman and 3 children. Upon further investigation, it was said that the woman in the fire could not have been Gunness because she died of strychnine poisoning, and she was only 5’3 and about 150 lbs, when Gunness was at least 5’8 and about 200 pounds. Investigators next step was, due to Mason’s suspicions of the wholes in the back yard, to investigate Gunness’ property
Victims Found Jennie Olson Small bodies of two unidentified children Andrew Helgelien Ole B. Budsburg Thomas Lindboe Henry Gurholdt, Olaf Svenherud John Moo Olaf Lindbloom There were many others who could not be identified. There were the remains of more than 40 men and children buried in shallow graves throughout her property.
Ray Lamphere Ray Lamphere pled guilty to Arson, but was proven innocent when charged with murder. On his death bed, he told a priest that Gunness was still alive, and that he buried 42 bodies in her back yard. Lamphere said that Gunness would charm her men, poison them, and then cut their heads with a butcher knife, and dump the remains in the hog pen in her back yard. Gunness was never found but the body believed to be that of Belle Gunness was buried next to her first husband at Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois.