Belle Gunness – Bluebeard of Northwest Indiana

Belle GunnessBelle Gunness - Black Widow of Northwest Indiana is a woman whom history has not yet found the right niche. A quick search of the internet will tell you, that the “Bluebeard of LaPorte” was America’s first female serial killer (and one of the most prolific). A more thorough search, and in depth reading will find accounts from LaPorte Indiana’s 100th Anniversary of the Belle Gunness Murders which have people describing her as a prolific foster mother. Indeed, Jennie Olson (one of her foster children), eventually ended up returning to live (and ultimately die) with Ms. Gunness.

The Belle of Northwest Indiana was one of the first and most notorious “black widows”. Her first husband, Mads Sorenson, died of “natural causes” which earned her $8,000 in insurance money (equivalent to $217,000 in modern currency). His family was sure that she had poisoned him, but it was never proven. She then moved to LaPorte and ran an ad that she was looking for a husband. Many suitors responded, and she milked cash from many of them. Young Jennie Olson would see them come in during the day but they always “left at night”. Jennie suspected foul play and eventually confronted her about it. In the end, this beloved foster child was one of the first bodies discovered on the property.

All of the above is easily learned on the internet and is the information that has piqued my interest. I will be conducting more research, hopefully including a visit to the farm land (if I can secure permission) as well as some LaPorte are stores which she is still thought to frequent. Additionally, I will be looking at other possible killers that are thought to have been her “post mortem” (her death was thought contrived). What have you heard about Belle Gunness? Have you ever been to any of the locations? Most importantly, do you have any northwest Indiana ghost stories about Belle Gunness?

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  • Jennifer

    I read about the alleged conspiracy about the medical examiner too, I also remember reading somewhere that the dentures/teeth found actually didn’t match up to Belle’s mouth. I think the biggest controversy I kept finding was the guy who ki…nda had the hots for her, worked for her if I remember right and threatened her more than once, they assumed right away he had started the fire. If you come across any articles about the California incident, I’d love to read them. From different things I had read up on the case I honestly wasn’t sure she died in that fire at all, and from what I had read she was a very intelligent woman, and I do believe she did relocate. Oh and the first husband, I remember reading the meat slicer I believe it was, fell off the shelf and whacked him in the head and that was how he died, but he was labled an “accident” Oh and the evp’s, I’d love to hear them! Now that would be interesting!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the comments. I am definitely leaning towards more writing focusing on the groundskeeper. What a story he had. Additionally, I found this site which has the DVD they show at the LaPorte Historical Society for sale:

      That is not my work and I do not get a commission

      Thanks again.

  • Anonymous

    I have just acquired the coroners inquest for the Belle Gunness murders and will be writing about that shortly. Additionally, I spent time at the Belle exhibit in LaPorte County’s museum.

    • Jennifer Holt

      Ohhh now that would be some great reading! I’ve read a few different discrepencies in the coroner’s inquest!! Can’t wait to see what you write next!! I liked the Belle exhibit, I thought it was interesting, especially how the bystanders started writing their names on the wood! It literally was THE SPOT to be at while all the digging was going on! Did you find out if there is a new house on the old foundation?

      • Anonymous

        I don’t know the answer about the house yet. The shed was the “in spot” that’s for sure. Love the wall at the exhibit. The address for the real shed is also there. Apparently, McClung road was briefly called Guness Rd. for a while but the residents protested. The Museum has additional materials not in the packet available for reading.

  • 219

    I work for a local service company and have worked in the home that was built on the foundation of the Gunness house. The owners are very reluctant to allow “ghost hunters” or anyone of such to roam their property. They have constructed a fence around the property, though very nice people, will prosecute any trespassers.