When we hear somebody say “Serial Killer,” our twisted little minds typically drum up Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer, Ed Gacy or Dennis Radar, notice anything there folks? All men. Well I got news for ya, not all of these vicious murderers were men! I’m going tell you about a twisted female serial killer named Belle Gunnes. This chick was one of the most shrewd, cold-hearted, female serial killers that I have ever researched. I’m kind of envy her vicious skill set!
Belle was born in Norway in 1859. Not much can be found about her younger years, other than the fact that she was raised in poverty on a small farm. In 1878, something must have snapped in old girl. Legend said that she worked herself to the bone for three years to turn her little farm into a booming business. At the end of that 3 years, she’d been more than successful. She then sold everything that she owned and went off in search of new life.
In 1881 she changes her name and headed for the United States. She winds up settling in the Mid-West. During her early days in Chicago, Belle ran a “baby farm” – kind of a pseudo foster care situation – out of her house. A record number of babies, 21 in all, mysteriously disappeared while in her care. To this day, no one is entirely sure what happened to them. They may have been murdered or sold to the highest bidder.
After that, in 1884, this twisted tramp snagged herself a husband. The lucky guy, Mads Sorenson. He was head over heels for this chick, he’d do anything that she wanted, without question. Within their first year of being married, Belle talked Mads in to opening a little candy store. They dumped a ton of cash into the business but it just didn’t take off like she thought it should have. So, sometime within the first year that the little store was open, it mysteriously burns to the ground.
So Belle and Mads pocket the insurance money, go off and buy a new family home. While they lived in this home, their family participated in the census. Records show that at that time, Belle, Mads and their 4 children were living there. But it wasn’t long after, that 2 of the 4 kids die from acute colitis, we think. I say that because the symptoms of colitis are very similar to being poisoned.
Just a short while after these two kids drop dead, Mads croaks from something that kind of resembled a heart attack. That was on July 30th 1900. Belle stated that he’d been feeling ill so she’d given him some “medicinal powders” to relieve his suffering. Yeah, your eyebrows raised yet, well if they’re not, listen to this: Mads dropped dead on the only day that both of his life insurance policies overlapped. Coincidence? Yeah, I seriously doubt it! As a matter of fact, so did Mads family. In fact, they had become more than a little bit suspicious that Belle was behind all of this death!
So, folks are starting to look at her funny, and she’s feeling the walls closing in around her. Belle takes the insurance pay off, from both policies, and gets the Hell out of town. It wasn’t long before she landed in LaPorte Indiana where she “just happened” to run into an old friend by the name of Peter Gunnes. Gunnes, who’d been married when they first met, was now a widower too. He was elated to find out that Belle had moved into town, and now having a few more things in common, he was eager to hook up with her.
Gunnes’ wife had died during childbirth and this poor dude was struggling to take care of an infant and another young daughter. Well it was Belle to the rescue right! Poor bastard! So, yeah, in 1902, Belle snags another husband, but the honeymoon didn’t last. Only weeks into the marriage the infant turns up dead while Belle had been taking care of it. Poor Peter was heartbroken, but he wouldn’t be for long, cause he turns up dead just a few months after the infant.
Well, this time there was an investigation because the circumstances looked kind of funky to everyone around. Belle’s statement on Gunnes was that he had knocked a pot of brine off of the stove on himself while reaching for his slippers. When he fell to the floor the sausage grinder fell off of the shelf and hit him in the head. Yeah, I know it sounds like bullshit, but regardless, she got away with it, and, she got paid again thanks to the life insurance policy.
Well, the authorities may have bought in to her explanation but the Gunnes family, not so much. They’re watching this tramp like a hawk. And, not quite a year later, Gunnes’ brother took custody of his only remaining child.
So, Belle’s single again and she’s on the prowl. But after all these “suspicious” deaths, nobody in the area is crazy enough to start dating Belle, and there wasn’t any matchmakers.com back in the day either! Well, she may have been crazy but that didn’t mean that she wasn’t smart. Old girl starts running personal ads in all of the major MidWest newspapers. The ad stated that she was a “comely widow” and that “Triflers” need not apply. Old Belle wasn’t looking for no trifling man, she wanted a man with money!
Believe it or not, men actually started to respond to her ad! The first one that showed up was a man named John Moe from Minnesota. He shows up with enough money to pay off Belle’s mortgage as a show of good faith. What a dumb-ass! That’s alright though, he wouldn’t stay stupid long, because he mysteriously disappears about a week after he arrived on her doorstep.
The next dumb bastard to answer the ad is definitely the smartest out of the bunch. George Anderson from Missouri came to court Belle. During their first dinner together Belle brought up the issue of her, now fictional, mortgage. Anderson agreed to pay it off if she’d marry him. So, she agreed. Well, later that night, Anderson was asleep in the guest bedroom. He wakes up in the middle of the night to see Belle hovering over his face while holding a candle. He later stated that the expression on her face was so sadistic, that he actually screamed when he saw her. Well, when he screamed, Belle hauled ass, and so did Anderson. As soon as he could get dressed and gather most of his clothes, he ran from the house straight to the train station. Anderson left town, and never came back for the rest of his belongings, and never contacted Belle again. So, that makes Anderson the only intended victim of Belle’s that would survive her murderous plotting.
Now, with all of that said. I’ve seen a photograph of Belle, “comely” isn’t exactly the word that I would use to describe her. This bitch was butt ugly! I mean beat the Hell up with the ugly stick, ugly! So, in knowing that, imagine this haggard bitch standing over you in the middle of the night with her face lit by candle light. I bet Anderson had nightmares for years. That poor dude probably needed some intense counseling.
But apparently there were a lot of men back in the day that had an ugly chick fetish. So, on to the next idiot that responds to the ad. His name was Ole Budsburg, he was from Wisconsin. Budsburg was an elderly widower, Loneliness just got the best of him I guess. Anyway, he was last seen alive at the LaPorte savings bank on April 6 1907, and guess what he was doing there! I’ll tell you! He mortgaged his property back in Wisconsin, leaving the bank with several thousand dollars in his pocket.
Back at home in Wisconsin, Budsberg’s two sons had no idea where there Father had disappeared off to, so they’re freaking out! Well, they start doing a little investigating and eventually they found out that he’d answered Belle’s ad. I guess they got one good look at her picture and became more that a little concerned. So, they decide to write Belle a letter to see just what the Hell was going on. A few weeks later they get a letter back from Belle, she tells them that she’s never met their father. Yeah, you got it, he disappeared too!
There were tons of idiots that answered this ad, and none of them were ever seen again. Belle’s farm house was like a fortress, the doors and windows were always locked and the curtains drawn shut. Other than the idiots that answered her ads, the only company she ever had were the delivery men that came to fill her recurring orders for massive trunks. Nevertheless, Belle was never lonely for very long.
The last of her victims was Andrew Heelgeleen from South Dakota. Belle must have worked him hard too because there were a ton of letters sent back and forth between the two of them before he ever came face to face with her. The last letter between them was the one that hooked him and reeled him in. In the letter Belle writes: “My heart beats in wild rapture for you, My Andrew, I love you. Come prepared to stay forever.” Yeah, she wasn’t playing either, she meant every word of it, especially the “plan to stay forever” part! So anyway, Heelgeleen shows up at her doorstep, and guess what! A week later he’s missing!
Now through it all there stands 1 man. No, not the one that got away, Belles farmhand, Ray. Ray was secretly infatuated with Belle. What is it with all these men digging this ugly chick! That says a lot about Ray, now doesn’t it? This dude did any and everything that Belle ever asked of him. This poor defective bastard would sit back in the shadows being eaten alive by jealousy every time a new dude answered her ad. But he’d always get his taste of revenge, trust me. Well, eventually, there came a day when Belle decided that Ray’s mental instability was a risk to her livelihood. When she fired him in 1908 he went stark raving mad!
So in the meanwhile, Heelgeleen’s family was becoming suspicious, just like all of the others had. Two of his brothers start tracking him down. Eventually they show up in town and start asking questions. We’ll apparently these dude’s families weren’t the only one’s that were suspicious of Belle. More than a couple of folks suggested that they go out to her farm and have a little conversation with her. So they did, several times. They interrogated her with a barrage of questions and accusations every time. But Belle always seemed to have some lame-assed explanations or excuses in response. Well, these two brothers weren’t buying her bullshit. They knew that she wasn’t telling them everything she knew about their brother’s disappearance.
Again, Belle starts feeling the walls closing in on her. So, one afternoon she goes into town and has a new will drafted. In this will she names her remaining kids as the sole heir to her estate. Well, that’s a fairly normal thing to do right? Yeah, but a few weeks later, her farm mysteriously catches on fire. Her newly hired farm hand wakes up in a house full of billowing smoke. He jumps from the second floor window and dies. Her children were unable to escape, they perished in the flames.
Now, Belle, was ugly as hell, but she was smart as a whip. She’d started filing false reports about Ray since the day she fired him. Poor bastard! She’s starting to shift all of this madness on to him and the dude “supposedly” knows nothing about this latest deadly tragedy. In these reports Belle stated that he was a threat to her and her family. So now, with a fabricated trail of threats filed by her, the house has burned to the ground and supposedly, no one has survived, including her. Needless to say, there was an investigation.
Authorities are sifting through the ash and rubble that was her farmhouse. The bodies of her children were recovered along with the decapitated body of a woman. Now, there was no way that this body belonged to Belle, it was of average height and weight and Belle stood 6 feet tall and weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds. But here’s the kicker, even though the woman’s body was missing its’ head, a set of teeth were found and identified. Belle’s dentist testified that the teeth were hers as he had done some extensive gold plating on Belle’s damaged teeth.
So, poor heartbroken Ray is arrested and charged. Well, they find the poor bastard guilty of arson and murder, but just after his conviction he becomes ill. On his death bed Ray starts talking. He admitted to a Priest to having been an accomplice in many of the murders that Belle committed. He even revealed her instrument of choice. Ray stated that Belle would poison the men’s coffee. When they passed out, she would cave in their head with a meat chopper. Belle would then drag their bodies downstairs to her basement and dismember them. Ray would then help her gather the pieces and haul them out to the pig pen. He even stated that he’d been watching on the day of the fire. He claimed to have witnessed Belle as she hacked off the head of her new maid and dressed the body in her own clothes before setting the house on fire. He admitted that he saw her leave, and she never even glanced back over her shoulders at the mayhem she left behind.
With Ray’s dying breath, he insisted that Belle was still alive out there somewhere. It’s believed that this chick murdered between 25-40 people, but authorities had only been able to identify the remains of 12 after they’d been recovered from the pig pen. Footnote here folks, just in case you ever need to know, Pigs can consume a human body in under 8 minutes, just putting that out there. Anyway, prior to the fire, Belle had withdrawn all of her money from the bank.
In 1931 a woman named Esther Carlson was arrested in Las Angeles after poisoning a man for money. Some people that had known Belle in the past, identified her and Esther Carlson as the same person. But there would be no justice for her victims. “Esther” became ill and died while she was in jail awaiting trial.