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Serial killer landlady's Sacramento house draws tourists for charity

September 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A rare look inside a home with a bloody past: A Sacramento house has become a legend thanks to its former landlady and the murders she committed there.

Curious tourists can still be found outside the Sacramento home made famous in 1988 when police discovered landlady Dorothea Puente had killed nine of her boarding house tenants, buried seven of them in her yard and cashed in their Social Security checks after their deaths.

Trespassers today are jokingly warned of the same fate if they pass through the gates.

"Once you see it on TV, you're like it's part of history. You just want to check it out," said Lindsey Raines, a curious passerby.

Bought at an auction in 2010, the latest owner of the once notorious, now remodeled Queen Anne-style home, Tom Williams, decided to open up the landmark on F Street to a public tour for charity sponsored by the Sacramento Old City Association.

"She would drug them in here, which was her bedroom, then take them in there, into our bedroom now, and lay them on the floor to drain the bodily fluids," said Williams. "There were two layers of carpet, and it had soaked all the way through the floor."

To this day, it's unclear how Puente moved the bodies to the yard. She probably had help, but nobody knows who it might have been.

Like the rest of the house, the yard has been re-done and to add humor to an otherwise grisly past, Williams added a mannequin with Puente's likeness, complete with a shovel.

Daniel Mitchelle loves crime re-enactment dramas, which often feature the Puente case, and took the tour.

"It's just interesting to see the real thing, and so being able to come by and see this, it's just interesting," said Mitchelle.

But an open house of a crime scene, even one more than two decades old, makes others shake their heads.

"I wouldn't do it. No, I think it's kind of creepy," said Alberta Stefani, who avoided the tour.

Puente died in prison in 2011. Williams says he'd open his famous house for public tours again if the right charity asks.


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