Serial Killer Belle Gunness:
Belle Gunness (1896-1908) was responsible for killing 49 people on her small farm in La Porte, Indiana, just outside of Chicago. Her victims included ranch workers, vagrant females, adopted children and her many husbands.
An Accident In the Kitchen:
Peter Gunness, Belle's first husband, was supposedly struck and killed by a meat grinder which fell off a kitchen shelf. The 280-pound Belle did not morn the loss for long and quickly took up with various men she met through personal ads. The men never seemed to stay around long, each mysteriously vanishing without a trace.
One exception was ranchhand Ray Lamphere who became Belle's lover and helped her fake her own death after relatives of some of the missing men began questioning their disappearance.
Belle's small brick farmhouse was set on fire and in ashes authorities found the body of a woman they believed to be Belle. The fact that the woman seemed to weigh no more than 150 pounds and was headless seemed of no consequence. Various teeth, bones and parts of bodies were also found in the ashes, along with men's watches and other personal belongings of various men who had entered Belle's door.
Love Till the End:
Lamphere was arrested for arson and for the murder of Belle Gunness, but as more bodies were unearthed around the farmhouse, each cut up and wrapped in oil cloth, the murder case against Lamphere feel apart and he was found guilty of arson only. He later died in prison, but confessed to his prison cellmate beforehand, admitting to his love for Belle and his involvement in faking her death.
Take the Money and Run:
Authorities later determined that Belle's victims died mostly of poison and collectively contributed $30,000 to Belle's pocketbook. Belle was never caught for the murders and what happened to her was never known. On the record, her death is listed as April 1908, the last time she was seen alive.