Broken Hearts & Body Parts: Black Widow Serial Killer Belle Gunness

Step back in time to the beginning of the 1900s. It was a simpler era, but the murder plots weren’t any less diabolical.

A perfect example is the story of perpetual widow Belle Gunness. She put love above all else – the love of money, that is.

Actual photo of Belle Gunness.

Actual photo of Belle Gunness.

Belle was married several times and had many suitors and boyfriends. But mysteriously, the men seemed to vanish and perish. The cause of the deaths? They were all suspicious. One of her husbands died on the one day his old life insurance policy and his new policy overlapped. A very convenient coincidence… All told, she is estimated to have murdered up to 40 people, including her children.

Belle’s main ploy was attracting men to work on her farm through newspaper ads. Think of it as an olden day online dating profile. The burly, hard working men would show up to lend their strength, but then they’d disappear. Strangely, the pigs on the farm would have a bit more to eat…

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In 1908, Belle’s farmhouse burned to the ground. The headless body of a woman was found in the ruins and presumed to be dear Belle. Her lover Ray Lamphere was the prime suspect. Little did everyone know, this was all part of her grandest scheme. Belle needed everyone to believe that she died and there was only one surefire way to do that: by leaving these – her teeth – at the scene of the arson. She was never seen again.

Then in 1931, a woman named Esther Carlson was arrested in Los Angeles for poisoning a man for his insurance money. Esther was about the same age and build – a large and hearty woman. She died awaiting her trial and her body was cremated before an investigation could be made as to whether this woman was actually Belle Gunness.

Was a toothless Belle Gunness roaming around getting away with murder again and again? We may never know for sure.

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Watch the Belle Gunness story on the full episode of True Nightmares below and streaming free now on InvestigationDiscovery.com. Tune-in for new stories Tuesdays at 10/9c.

  • 66lima

    All happened in the town where I grew up.
    La Porte, IN.

  • Charlennag

    Yeah, it’s like all of these murderous losers like that in history all have ties to the carnival. Disgusting!