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Belle Gunness
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    (November 11, 1859- )
    Born in Selbu, Norway
    Nicknamed 'the Lady Bluebeard'
    Possibly died in 1908. Or 1931. Or neither.
    Birth name was Brynhild Paulsdatter Storseth
    Owned a farm in LaPorte, Indiana
    Killed at least 40 people, mostly suitors answering lonely hearts ads
    Her farm burnt down (April 28, 1908), after which she disappeared
    Her two husbands and several of her children died under suspicious circumstances (and while heavily insured).
    After being widowed for the second time, she corresponded with suitors who would visit her farm, bringing money to help pay her mortgage, then disappear.
    Shortly after the brother of one of her victims began asking questions concerning his whereabouts, her farm burned down.
    In the charred remains were the bodies of her three children and the headless body of a woman.
    Since the corpse weighed a good fifty pounds less than Gunness (and since an autopsy found that the woman had died from strychnine poisoning), it was believed that Gunness had tried to fake her death.
    Police digging at the Gunness farm uncovered remains of forty people.
    Esther Carlson, who was arrested in California in 1931 for poisoning a man for insurance but died before the trial, was tentatively identified as Gunness from photos by two people who had known her.
    When she lived in Norway, she was impregnated by the son of a rich family. He avoided a shotgun wedding by assaulting her, kicking her the stomach, causing her to have a miscarriage.
    To make her faked death more convincing, she had removed her dental bridge and planted it with the bodies.
    During the 20 years after her disappearance, the LaPorte sheriff's department received an average of two reports a month of Belle Gunness sightings.
    The 1950s novel, play and cult film 'The Bad Seed' were inspired by her crimes.

Credit: C. Fishel

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