Northern California January 12, 2018
The Story Of The Serial Killer Who Terrorized This Northern California City Is Truly Frightening
California is no stranger to serial killers. Our state has had its fair share of violent murderers, most famously the Zodiac Killer, the Night Stalker, and the Golden State Killer (to name a few). If you are a true crime fanatic, chances are you can easily rattle off a few famous serial killers like these. The killer featured here committed some of the most heinous murders in Northern California, yet few people know her name. If you live in the area, you’ve most likely heard of her. However, she is relatively unknown to the rest of the country despite her terrible acts.
It's been three decades since her crimes shocked the city of Sacramento. If you lived near the area in the 1980s, you most likely know her name. Dorothea Puente may not have looked it, but she was one of California's most coldblooded killers.
Puente was convicted of killing at least nine people, most of which were the elderly and disabled boarders who lived in her care home at 2100 F Street.
She was accused of poisoning the food and drinks she served her victims in order to cash in their Social Security checks. It's estimated that she was stealing at least $5,000 a month from her boarders.
It's a little surprising it took so long for authorities to pin Puente, since all her life she was in and out of jail for different crimes. She was first arrested in 1960 for running a brothel and was sentenced to three months in the Sacramento County Jail.
She was also later arrested and served time for vagrancy, forging checks, and treasury fraud on separate occasions. She may have looked just like any other innocent elderly lady, but she certainly was not. She showed a lack of empathy during her entire life. She married and divorced several men and even gave up two daughters for adoption (another daughter she sent to live with relatives).
She rented the two-story Victorian care home sometime in the 1970s. The reputation she carried with her tenants was mixed. Some saw her as a generous person while others saw her as cold and cruel.
The timeline of her murders is a little shaky, but it is believed that the killings started shortly after she began renting the house. In 1982, Ruth Monroe (a friend and business partner) died suddenly in the home. Police ruled her death a suicide from an overdose but it is now believed that Ruth was probably her first victim. Another one of her first victims was her husband Everson Gillmouth. His body was discovered in a dumping site approximately a year after she killed him. By this time, Gillmouth's body was so badly decomposed that he could not be identified. During this time, Puente continued to collect his pension checks.
In 1988, a concerned social worker reached out to the authorities. One of her clients, Alberto Montoya, had disappeared and his last known address was the house on F Street.
It was at this time that Puente's crimes were finally discovered. Police found nothing in the home, but were able to uncover a human leg and foot buried in the backyard. They uncovered six more bodies as they continued digging in the yard.
Puente was not immediately under suspicion after the discovery of the bodies. She was allowed to leave the premises to buy a cup of coffee but she ended up fleeing the city.
Police found her just a few days later at a motel in Los Angeles. An elderly person she met at a bar recognized her from television and reported her to authorities.
Her trial began in October 1992 where she stood trial without testifying. After 24 days of intense deliberation, the jury convicted her of three murders and Puente was sentenced to life without parole.
Puente eventually died in prison of natural causes in 2011. It's crazy to think that Puente committed crimes her entire life and was only caught after the deaths of several innocent and helpless people. Puente's killings are especially horrific, considering her victims were the people she was supposed to be looking after.
Did you know the story of Dorothea Puente? If you found this information interesting, you’ll probably enjoy
5 Disturbing Unsolved Mysteries In Northern California. Be sure to check it out.