April 3, 2023
“I used to be a very good person at one time” – Dorothea Puente
There is a reason why Greed is one of the seven deadly sins. For it can lead a person to commit other heinous acts: lie, cheat, steal, and even murder. The thing about greed is that it consumes anyone and there is no such thing as enough. Even sweet looking grandmothers that share yummy homemade meals can be taken over by greed.
The Back Story – Abridged
Dorothea Puente was born January 9, 1929 in Redlands, California. Her early life was a struggle. She was sent to live in an orphanage in 1938 after she lost her father to Tuberculosis in 1937 and her mother in a car accident in 1938. Dorothea married for the first time in 1945 to a World War II soldier. This marriage was short-lived; he left her in 1948 and here is when her brushes with the law began. Dorothea was arrested and jailed for forging checks. In the 1960s she was again arrested for owning and operating a brothel. After this stay in jail for the prosecution ring, Puente became a nurse’s aide and first began running boarding houses. This paved road for her becoming an infamous serial killer.
In 1966, Dorothea divorced and remarried a younger man, Roberto Puente in Mexico. That marriage dissolved quickly after only two years. After her failed union, Puente began to manage a 16 bedroom care home in Sacramento, California. Puente, married again in 1977 to a violent alcoholic named Pedro Monalvo. Naturally, this marriage ended quickly but did not stop her from seeking out another partner. She frequented local bars in search of older men receiving benefits. It didn’t take long for Dorothea to be charged with 34 counts of treasury fraud. What she did was forge the signatures of the men she meat to steal their money. In or around this time Dorothea Puente became the (owner) of 1426 F Street. That is when fraud was not longer satisfying Dorothea’ greedy needs.
Dorothea Puente was well-known to social workers in the Sacramento area. They liked her because she was willing to room and board difficult cases; those with mental illness and problems with addiction. She took in those that many people would not notice if they went missing. Her tenants often complained that she was withholding their government issued money and mail. She often read all of their mail before giving it to them. Motivated by personal gain, Dorothea Puente began her killing spree in 1982. It is believed that her fraud was lucrative and earned her $5,000.00 per month and that was during the ‘80’s. Her desire for gain surpassed any attachment or familiarity she had for her victims. In April 1982, Ruth Monroe moved into the upstairs apartment above Puente.
Monroe was actually a good friend and business partners of Dorothea. She is also her first victim. Soon after moving into Puente’s building she was found dead in her room. It was determined that Monroe died of an overdose of codeine and acetaminophen. During this period in time, Ruth Monroe was struggling with depression due to her husband’s terminal illness. Due to this fact when police came to investigate; her death was ruled a suicide.
Some weeks later, police returned to the boarding house. A 74-year-old tenant, Malcom McKenzie accused Puente of drugging him and then stealing from him. Mr. McKenzie is the first of four people Puente is accused of drugging. She was charged and convicted of thief in August 1982. She was sentenced to five years in jail and served three of those five years. As she was in jail she developed a pen pal relationship with an older gentleman named Everson Gillmouth. When Puente was released from jail, Gillmouth was there waiting to pick her up in a Ford truck. Despite her conviction of thief she was able to continue her work at the boarding house. Also, she and Mr. Gillmouth began to make wedding plans. Before their wedding could take place, Dorothea sent letter to Mr. Gillmouth’s family letting them know he was ill. At the same time Puente hired a handy man to build her a large pine box to store “junk” in. After she filled up the box and shut it tight she asked the same handy man to help her move it to storage. She gave him money and a Ford truck in good condition. She stated that it the truck belonged to her boyfriend, and he didn’t need it anymore. Along the way to the storage unit Puente changed her mind and asked for the pine box to be dumped by a lake. This lake area was an unofficial dumping site of unwanted items. In January 1986 a fisherman found the pine box and became suspicious it, so he reported it to the police. The police opened the box a found an unidentifiable discomposed body of an older man. It took investigators three years to identify the discovered body as Everson Gillmouth.
Despite all the unusual activity going on F. Street, Puente was able to continue her room and board business running. Her tenants did file complaints about her to their social workers about how she ran her business and how she was treating them. Naturally they were upset about her going through their mail and with holding extra money from them for “expenses “. No less than 15 times was Puente verbally told to stay away from the elderly and to stop handling government check. However, Dorothea Puente’s questionable activities she was never suspected of true malice. That changed in 1988 when tenant Alberto Montoya, a disabled schizophrenic disappeared. A social worker that was over his case discovered that the boarding house was not licensed for the type of operation that was taking place. Then, when Mr. Montoya went missing she reported his absence and the boarding house to the police. Investigators arrived at the boarding house Puente initially told the officers that Montoya was on vacation. However, when an investigator noted that there was a plot of dirt on the property that had recently been upset; he requested permission to dig at that location. Even when investigators first starting digging on the property, Dorothea Puente was still not suspected of any wrong doing. Dorothea asked if she could go buy a coffee the police investigators stated that she could do so. When, she was gone seven bodies were discovered to be buried at the boarding house grounds. Also, Puente took her coffee run as an opportunity to flee to Los Angeles. She was only in hiding in Los Angeles for about five days. Even in that short amount of time Puente still managed to befriend an older man. Fortunately, the gentleman recognized her from television, and he turned her into the authorities.
It took five years for Dorothea Puente to go to trial after she was charge with six counts of murder. Throughout the duration of the trial Puente denied that she killed anyone. Per journalists covering the case and court transcripts, Puente and her defense team stuck to the notion that all the tenants died of natural causes. Dorothea did admit that she was a thief, but she was not a killer. By the use to forensic evidence it was determined that each person was drugged with sleeping pills before they died. The court prosecutors argued that she was cold, greedy, and manipulative. That she drugged each of her victims and them suffocated them to their deaths. She was then accused of hiring homeless men and convicts to bury the bodies; then of course continued to cash their government checks long after she knew they were gone. It took the jury several days of deliberation the jury found Dorothea Puente guiltily of three murders. She was sentenced to three back-to-back life sentences in federal prison. She died in prison on March 27, 2011, at the age of 82.
The Haunting of the Puente Murder House
During the time Dorothea Puente was active, her house of full of fear, mistrust, and death. Her case sent shock waves through the community of Sacramento. It is no wonder that this location continues to be extremely active with paranormal energy. Despite its intense history, it is not always the most well-known haunted location in America. The Puente Murder House came to a worldwide consciousness when Travel Channel’s popular show Ghost Adventures went to investigate. During filming the show the Ghost Adventures Crew was able to interview investigators that worked on the case in the 1988. The information given by the now retired officers was crucial in collaborating evidence they would obtain during their paranormal investigation. The GAC was also able to have the services of psychic couple Mike and Marty Perry. During a session on location Mike believed that he was able to channel the spirit of one of Puente’s victims. Mike noted during his channeling the spirit shared with him that an area in the house used to have a wall up; that has since been knocked down during renovations. This turned out to be turned and it was a detail that was not a part of public records. Also, Marty was able to draw out Dorothea perfectly without seeing an image of her in the past.In 2011 the home was bought by married couple Barbara Homles and Tom Williams. They were aware of the history of the house and wish to fix up the old Victorian Bungalow to give it new life. The first week after Barbara, Tom, and mother Peggy Holmes moved in; activity paranormal in nature began to occur. Peggy believes that on the first night they moved in, Dorothea Puente herself came to her. Peggy explained to a news reporter that she was awakened in the middle of the night by the smell of heavy, sweet perfume and the presence she felt lead her to believe that it was the home’s former owner. Peggy then continued on to the reporter that she told the spirit to go away, and she fell back to sleep. She believes that the spirit of Dorothea has not been back since is because she knows that Peggy is not afraid of her. Peggy and the other house residents have also reported seeing light orbs, hearing footsteps, and seeing shadows. Prior to and since the airing of the Puente Murder House Ghost Adventures episode; there has been a consistent line of paranormal research team having the honor to investigate the historic house. These teams have been able to gather more evidence that the GACwas not able to. One team shared their evidence on YouTube, and they believe that made contact with an unidentified victim of Puente. Class A EVPs, video, and psychic evidence has been gathered by various teams over the years.
The Puente Murder House was a real life house of horrors, driven by greed. The spirits that are still trapped in these walls are willing to reach out for help. It is terrifying to think that Dorothea Puente still holds power over them and is keeping them forever trapped in those walls. I have faith that one day a paranormal research team will be able to break down that barrier and set them free.