Episode 006: Dorothea Puente

on December 3, 2010 in Podcast Episodes, Serial Killers by

Detective John Cabrera had been asked by a social worker to look into the disappearance of Alvaro Montoya, a developmentally challenged schizophrenic. Montoya was a tenant of Dorothea Puente, a frail, grandmotherly-type, who seemed much older than her 59 years.

Before heading to the boarding house, Cabrera pulled Puente’s file and saw numerous previous arrests for prostitution and fraud. He had also heard dark stories about Puente’s boarding house. The rumor was that you could get a hot meal, but the lady running the place was brutal. Any disobedience was punished with heavy verbal abuse and maybe even a slap. And anyone who didn’t fit in would find him or herself buried under the garden. Neighbors reported a horrible smell coming from the yard.

Cabrera took these stories with a grain of salt, but decided to pay a visit to Puente’s boarding house. After noticing the recently turned soil on the property, they uncovered the body of Leona Carpenter. Seven bodies were eventually found. Alvaro Montoya was one of them.

Puente denied all knowledge and was not a suspect initially. The body had been in the ground too long to be Montoya, and was female in any case. An excavation team was dispatched to the house the next day, and TV crews began to show up once the word got out that a body had been found.

At 8:30am, Puente walked up to Cabrera wearing a pink dress, red coat, and purple pumps, carrying a matching pink umbrella and a purple handbag. In a quivering voice, she asked if she was under arrest. Not yet, answered Cabrera. She asked if he would escort her down the street to the Clarion Hotel for a cup of coffee. The TV crews filmed the two of them departing.

Cabrera watched Puente meet with some old friends and felt she was not a flight risk. And even if she did run, she couldn’t get far. So, he returned to the dig at her house. When the second body was found, Cabrera knew he had been duped and rushed back to the hotel to arrest Puente.

It was too late. Dorothea Puente was gone.

You can also download the episode directly.

And feel free to use the comments below for episode discussion.

Dorothea Puente by Julie Scheeres in TruTV.com

Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters by Peter Vronsky.
The Serial Killer Files by Harold Schechter
Tender Murderers: Women Who Kill by Trina Robbins
Serial murder and media circuses by Dirk Cameron Gibson

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