There are vulnerable people in society who the rest of us have a moral obligation to protect and defend from those who would take advantage of them or abuse them. Of course, we often fail. But when someone dedicates their life to helping these people who society has basically cast out, it is an honorable thing. This is a person we can all admire as selfless and kind. We may admire them so much that we overlook some ominous signs of exploitation.
Dorothea Puente ran a boarding home for disabled and elderly people who had nowhere else to go. Many of them were mentally ill and incapable of caring for themselves. She came across as maternal and selfless, cooking and cleaning for her boarders without complaint. But she had a temper. And, she had a criminal history.
The crimes in Dorothea’s boarding house were shocking and heinous, so much so that she would earn the moniker “Death House Landlady.” It would take time for anyone to notice that tenants were missing and to connect the horrible, sickly sweet odor of decomposition to their disappearances.
Today, we’re finding out how Dorothea Puente progressed from being a thief to a serial killer and how she got away with murdering the people who depended on her while cashing their checks and spending their social security benefits on clothing and booze. We’re calling this episode “Death House Landlady,” because we can, and because it neatly sums up this story.
Full-time mom Candy Montgomery always did what was expected of her. She married, had two kids, and taught Sunday school at her church. Her husband Pat loved her and she loved him. But something was missing from Candy’s life: excitement. She took creative writing classes in order to express herself. She made close women friends to whom she could confide even her wildest desires. Still, something was lacking. Maybe an extramarital affair was the answer. Just some sexual exploration while Pat was away at work---nothing that would hurt anyone. She wasn’t the type to hurt anyone.
Betty Gore didn’t share Candy’s urges to find pleasure outside of her marriage. She adored her husband Allen, who made a good living and worked hard to keep her happy. Keeping Betty happy wasn’t an easy task. She suffered from depression and hypochondria. She was insecure. She cried when he had to travel for work, even if it was just a day or two. She didn’t do well on her own. Betty invested time and effort into her marriage, signing them up for the church’s Marriage Encounter program. And it was working. They were closer than ever.
How did the lives of these suburban moms intersect with a shocking and brutal ax murder in the middle of an otherwise normal morning? Join us at the quiet end for an extraordinary story of love, lust, and violence in the suburbs: Unleashed Rage: The Murder of Betty Gore.
n a cold, sunny morning in January 1957, Leonard Prescott, a 39-year old construction worker, was driving into the town of Willow Springs, Illinois, when he noticed two strange-looking objects underneath a bridge railing. He stopped to get a better look and told himself they must be department store mannequins. He drove off, but his mind kept returning to the flesh-colored figures. Were they naked, dead girls? He wasn’t entirely convinced, so he drove home and got his wife Marie. They returned to the bridge and got out of the car. The two bodies had a blue hue against the whiteness of the snow. One of the girls was on her side with her legs drawn up in a fetal position. The other girl was on her back, apparently tossed on top of her.
Marie screamed and began to sob uncontrollably. Shaken himself, Leonard helped his wife into the car and drove to the Willow Springs Police Station. A policeman accompanied Leonard back to the site. The girls looked like they were only in their early teens.
Joseph Grimes’ daughters Barbara,15, and Patricia, 13, had been missing for nearly a month. They were big Elvis Presley Fans and had gone together to see his film “Love Me Tender” on the night they disappeared, 3 days after Christmas.
Joseph was called to the station and escorted to the scene where he had the heartbreaking task of identifying his murdered daughters.
The heartbreaking disappearance and unexplained deaths of Barbara and Patricia Grimes shattered the innocence of the Chicago area forever. Things like this just hadn’t happened before. The case launched one of the biggest investigations in history. Over the years, there have been numerous leads but the case remains unsolved.
Today, we’re talking about an End to Innocence: The Abduction and Murders of the Grimes Sisters
When Cheryl Keeton was found dead in the middle of the highway in 1986, she was a talented, well-respected lawyer and the mother of three young boys. After her death was determined not to be an accident, her husband Bradley Cunningham became the prime suspect. Cheryl was Bradley’s 4th wife. They had been involved in a long and bitter divorce and custody battle. What investigators would learn from Bradley’s first 3 wives would solidify their suspicions. Then, Bradley’s 5th wife would find out what it was like to be on Bradley’s bad side.
Join us at the quiet end today as we examine the twisted mind of Bradley Cunningham and the events that led up to and followed the murder of Cheryl, in Murder Foretold: The Cheryl Keeton Story
Members of the Heaven’s Gate cult donned black outfits, new Nike sneakers, and purple shrouds on the day of their deaths. They each had a $5 bill and 3 quarters in their pockets. It was March 1997 and 39 cult members ritually ended their lives in waves. Each cleaned up after the last until all 39 were dead inside a San Diego mansion.
To us on the outside, this was a mass suicide. To families of some of the victims, it was 38 murders and 1 suicide. To the 39 people in the Heaven’s Gate cult, this was their destiny. Marshall Applewhite, their leader, had told his followers that there was a UFO in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet. This comet orbited the earth once every 2,000 years. He told them this was their signal to board the space ship which would take them into eternity. In order to catch this ride, they would have to die.
This tragedy was the culmination of more than two decades of the religious and social development of a religious group that had taken different names over the years. The deaths were the result of years of behavior modification.
At the quiet end today, we’re talking about the origins of the Heaven’s Gate cult, the beliefs of its leaders, and how it appealed to its followers with a religion that fused Christianity, New Age practices, and science fiction. At the time of their deaths, did any of the members have second thoughts or resist in anyway? We’ll talk about the death scene in the Heaven’s Gate mansion and consider the reasons for the dressing and positioning of the bodies.