Monday, October 31, 2011

Mugshot Monday

When you're down and out, don't you just wanna be coddled by a nice little old lady? You can always trust them, and they cook better than anybody else. Their homes are always clean, they're polite as can be, and a general sense of well-being and safety just washes over you when they smile.

Unless that little old lady is Dorothea Puente!

It's Mugshot Monday, so strap yourself in, because you might cringe a little.

Dorothea Puente was born and raised in California. Orphaned at the age of nine, she went to Fresno to live with relatives until she married at 16 years old. She had two daughters, one of whom she gave to family members and the other she gave up for adoption. Her husband got a little pissed off about this and wound up leaving her. She started telling everybody he'd died of a heart attack instead of admitting that she was dumped.

After hubby numero uno (yes. there are more coming.) left, she tried to forge checks for a while, but was caught and sent to jail for six months. Once she got out of prison, she found hubby numero dos and had a crazy 14 years with him.

Dorothea. Unloving mother. Not so devoted wife.
In 1960 she was arrested for running a whorehouse, and then arrested again for vagrancy as soon as she got out of prison. So 1960 was a tough year for poor Dorothea. She worked for a while in a nursing home, and then started running a boarding house (you can see where this is going already, can't you??? EXCITING!)

In 1966 she divorced hubby 2 and moved on to a two-year marriage with hubby numero tres. Disappointed with that, she found hubby numero quatro, but he was an alcoholic, and that didn't mesh with her flip-floppy in and out of prison lifestyle, so they were divorced after only a few months of marriage.

Hubby 4's alcoholism did give Dorothea a nifty idea though. She started prowling bars for older men to seduce! Yay! After she caught these fish, she'd forge their signatures to claim their social security checks. Of course, Dorothea, not having a great police record, was caught pretty quickly. She was charged with 34 counts of treasury fraud, but once she was out on probation, she started back in with her old tricks. The trouble was, these old men in bars noticed when their benefits went missing.
Can I buy you a drink, tiger?

In 1981, Dorothea finally figured it out. She began renting out an upstairs room on F Street in downtown Sacramento (my Sac-town friends, I smell a field trip), and only taking elderly or mentally unstable lodgers. Social workers praised her for taking in the tenants other landlords so often rejected.

Sweet of her, right? ONLY SHE WAS KILLING HER TENANTS AND TAKING THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY CHECKS!!!!!!! She stole from a couple of tenants, who complained, and were promptly done in. When the police investigated the deaths, they went along with Dorothea's stories that the tenants were old and in poor health.

Finally one tenant complained to the police about not getting his mail. It was a smarter move than complaining to Dorothea directly. She was sent to jail for theft for five years.

During her time in prison, she started corresponding with soon to be hubby numero cinco. After she was released from prison, Dorothea and new hubby moved into her old digs. A couple weeks later, she hired a handyman to move a large box for her. She said it was just full of old books and junk, and they dumped it alongside a road. Yup. There goes hubby 5.

BUT she still had that joint checking account from her fifth marriage! Good job, Dorothea! She continued to collect his pension checks. She even went so far as to write letters to his family saying he was too ill to write or call, but not to worry, because he was totally alive.

After she hired a homeless alcoholic named "Chief" (I probably could couldn't make this shit up) to tear the concrete floor out of her basement, folks started getting suspicious. Chief wheeled out loads of dirt from the basement, and then promptly went missing. Along with a string of elderly upstairs lodgers.

When a police officer stopped by to ask about the disappearance of one her tenants, and noticed all the disturbed soil, Dorothea was arrested for the last time. Police dug a total of seven bodies out of her basement. In downtown Sacramento. This house. Right here. --->

Dorothea Puente was charged with a total of nine murders. She wound up being convicted of three of them. She died in prison this year of natural causes. Whatever that means...

1 comment:

Camille said...

That would make one heck of a wild musical!