When people imagine a serial killer, a lot of things come to mind. When people hear “killer,” they tend to go to the most immediate, visceral, and simple version of what it takes to kill someone.
The predominant image is a tall and thick man, a convict with tattoos and a sinister look.
Someone immediately identifiable as a person who’s racked up a body count and could go on to kill many more if not for the bailiff and guards at the trial. But real serial killers can be anyone: even sweet, old ladies.
Dorotea Puente was a serial killer who defied the typical archetype of the modern American killer.
She was a woman, and during the span of her crimes, she was pretty old, in her late 50s and early 60s.
She lived a very long life and led several people to their deaths, all in the effort of cashing in their checks and living off their remaining welfare.
Despite being such a contrary-looking figure, she was every bit as capable of a killer as the life sentence inmates she was sent to join at the end of her trials. Her deceptive looks made her quite a bit scarier.
10 /10 Early Life
She was born Dorothea Helen Gray in January of 1929 in Redlands, California. Her early life, unfortunately, seemed to indicate the path she was destined to take.
Both her parents were alcoholics, and her father threatened to commit suicide in front of his children numerous times.
He died of tuberculosis in 1937, and the mother died the following year after losing custody of her children. She died in a motorcycle accident.
9 /10 Lost Youth
Dorothea suffered sexual abuse in the orphanage where she and her siblings were sent.
She was married at the age of 16 to a WWII veteran and had two daughters – but because of her traumatic past, she sent them both away, one to live with relatives in Sacramento and the other she placed for adoption.
She was divorced after suffering a miscarriage in 1948. So before she was even 20, she went through a whole lifetime of suffering and upsets, which surely tinted her view of the world.