A featured home on the Sacramento Old City Association Home Tour this past weekend stirred some controversy because of its macabre history. One of the five stops on this year's tour was the former boarding house run by Dorothea Puente, convicted in 1989 of murdering three elderly residents after police discovered nine bodies buried on the property.
Retired detective John Cabrera, who worked on the case, guided tour attendees through the infamous house, revamped as a Queen Anne-style home by new owners Barbara Holmes and Tom Williams, reported the Sacramento Bee.
Police began investing Puente, 64 at the time, and her illegal boarding home in 1988 following the disappearance of a mentally disabled elderly man, reports Los Angeles Times. Puente had a previous conviction of drugging elderly victims to rob them and was on parole when she was arrested for the murders in 1989.
She also had an earlier conviction for forging checks. According to reports, Puente murdered her victims and cashed their Social Security checks, notes Los Angeles Times, and she reportedly used some of the money to get a facelift.
Police discovered seven bodies at the boarding house and later charged Puente with nine counts of murder after finding two more bodies. Puente was convicted of three murder charges (the jurors were deadlocked on the other six charges) and in 1993 she was sentenced to life. Puente died in prison in 2011 at the age of 82.
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On the tour, Cabrera described details of the investigation, pointing out the locations where the bodies were buried, areas where evidence was discovered and the room used by Puente to store the bodies. Speaking to the Bee, the tour attendees appeared to be unfazed by the murders that occurred at the site, with some remarking on the beauty of the house. Cabrera said, “I love this house. It’s happy. This veil of darkness has been lifted.”
The Sacramento house tour was just a one-day event, but other serial killers and murders have inspired regular tours around the country. In Milwaukee, the Dahmer Tour covers a mile-long stretch of the city where Jeffrey Dahmer found seven of his 17 victims, including places on 2nd Street such as the now-closed Club 219. Chicago has its own serial killer tour, which takes visitors to the site of H.H. Holmes’ “Murder Castle,” and a separate tour exploring the sites of several infamous murders.