By Ryan Green
Buried beneath the boarding house were seven bodies, all victims of the greed of Dorothea Puente. She took in the homeless, the addicted, ex-cons and mentally ill of society. In exchange for a roof over their heads she redirected their welfare cheques for her own use. As she got greedier so did the speed of her guests’ demise.
Dorothea was well known and liked in her community for her charitable work.
She was considered a sweet grey-haired old lady often caring for the area’s stray cats.
This outward persona hid a woman with murderous intent, she was not as old as she outwardly looked, being 59 when she was arrested but looking about 70.
There came a time when one of her guests, Bert Montoya, was missed and when questioned another guest recalled strange goings on up to his disappearance. There were holes dug in the garden, then filled in overnight. Guests were taken ill, then vanished overnight, with excuses given as to why they couldn’t be contacted. This gave the Sacramento police enough to revisit the guest house ready to dig up the garden.
The book documents the neglect that Dorothea suffered in childhood, born to alcoholic parents who left their seven children to fend for themselves. From a young age she relied on her looks for her livelihood. Dorothea was driven by the desire for a luxurious life, spending money on expensive clothes and perfume.
There were eventually nine confirmed and 6 unconfirmed victims of Dorothea Puente.
Dubbed by the press as ‘the death house land-lady,’ this book about the serial killer Dorothea Puente makes for riveting reading. It is a short and easy read for any true crime lover.