Belle Sorenson Gunness
(Killings between 1900 and 1908)
She did not poison her victims like many other female killers, she slaughtered them. Belle was a 42-year-old Norwegian immigrant who purchased a property in La Porte, Indiana, using her first husband's insurance after his death. Her husband and two of her children were said to have died mysteriously, although she was not suspected. After moving to La Porte with her children, she married Peter Gunness, who died after just nine months. She collected the insurance payment. Over the next few years, all the men that came vanished without trace. She became infamed for killing several of her husbands, ranch workers and adopted children.
She would place matrimonial ads in newspapers and promised men marital bliss and a life filled with love. Several hopefuls traveled to La Porte carrying their life savings with them. She would then drug them and cut them up as she cut her hogs. She would then wrap them up with oilskin and bury them in her farm. A letter she wrote reads – "My heart beats in wild rapture for you, My Andrew, I love you. Come prepared to stay forever."
There are various accounts of her background. She was said to be one of eight children and was born at Stoersetgjerdet in Norway. One story goes that she got pregnant with a man and he kicked her on her stomach in public and she lost her child. He disappeared soon after. According to her sister, Belle was said to be crazy for money.
In 1908 her farmhouse caught fire and burned to the ground and when it was put out, the remains of several people were discovered, men, children and a woman. The children were identified as hers. The woman was assumed to be Belle, although, there was no head. It was thought she died in that fire. Many butchered bodies were found around her property and the bodies were carved like turkeys. The heads were cut off, arms removed and legs sawed off at the thigh. However, Belle's ranch hand and lover Lamphere who was arrested claimed that he helped Belle fake her own death and run away. Officially, she was considered as dead.
She was said to have killed 49 people.
"I just wanted to see if you were asleep." - What she supposedly said to her last farmhand, Joe Maxson (who survived), when he awoke to find her standing over his bed.