Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On the Exhumation of Indiana Serial Killer Belle Gunness: New Questions Arise

more digging in the case of Belle Gunness, the more questions there are. In a piece
that I wrote on the matter way back in November 16th , I commented that there appears to be a human skull in the photo to the right. That might be because there is one, but everyone's an expert (I'm not) and an anthropologist (ditto). From November 16th's comment from someone who wandered into the store:

Anonymous said...

Where do you see a skull in the photo? Most of the light-colored areas are the zinc which lined the casket. Sorry. No skull.


And yet there is a skull in the Gunness plot in Forest Park, Illinois photo [click-to-enlarge]. It's never easy to admit when one's wrong, but this isn't one of those moments. In late-February, the Post-Tribune did a piece that--lo-and-behold--there were bones of children found in the grave of Belle Gunness, along with the expected find of an adult-skeleton minus a skull. Yet, there it is, and in other photos--what could be a child's skull above the adult-skeleton. The forensic team even found another human skull at the former location of the Gunness farm:
But [University of Indianapolis lead researcher Andrea] Simmons, who speaks about the case Saturday at the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso, has found a problem. The deeper the case gets, the more questions arise. Why were the bones of children found in her casket? Whose skull was found on the property? "We're finding every time we investigate something, it opens up a whole new question," Simmons said. ("Cracking the Belle Gunness Mystery," The Post-Tribune, 02.28.2008)
And that's how investigations like this play-out. It's possible that there will be no answers, it being 100 years since the Gunness farm burned-to-the-ground as a mob of authorities and vigilantes rushed to the residence to arrest the portly serial killer, the black widow of LaPorte. It was 1908.
In case you don't know, the charred-corpse identified as that of Gunness was found in the remains of the cellar of the ruined farmhouse...without a head. Ever since that time it has been a source of wild speculations, namely that she got-away and started a life elsewhere. One good theory has the "Lady Bluebeard" chopping-off the head of a female maid, and there is evidence to support this. There are a good number of theories, which isn't that hard to believe. A century ago, people didn't have social security cards and photo identification was a rarity outside of passports, criminal and military records, and the like. Gunness lured her widower victims to her farm through Norwegian-language newspapers in the big cities, the myspace or facebook directories of the ass-end of the Victorian-era.
Some individuals were social ghosts in 1908, and the "Wild West" was just ending. Back then, it was easier to be someone else, a strange echo of today's phenomena of "identity-theft." Forget being ripped-off. Someone could murder you, take everything you owned, and simply vanish becoming you or someone else. 100-years-ago, it was far more widespread, and vice and labor, criminal and social violence were rampant. If Gunness recalls anything-at-all, it's the danger of almost no regulations in our society. It's a reminder of what a lawless society looks like, and what can happen when nobody is looking.

So here's what we have kids: an additional-skull found on the original site of the Gunness farm, and the bones of children in the grave of the serial killer along with what appears to be a headless skeletal-corpse, presumably that of the killer or a luckless ringer.