Belle Gunness Postcard

Vintage Belle Gunness postcard
A 1908 postcard featuring a collage of images associated with the Gunness investigation

Historians refer to the years 1905 – 1915 as the “Golden Age of Postcards” in America. Advances in printing and photography, as well as the expansion of Rural Free Delivery mail, were just a few of the factors which led to the widespread popularity of postcards during this period.

Back then, cars and telephones were distant dreams for most people, and they relied on the postal service to stay in touch with distant friends and relatives. It was quite common to send “news from home” via postcard – and there was no bigger news story at the time than that of Belle Gunness.

Gunness, born Brynhild Paulsdatter Størset in Norway, was a serial killer whose grisly crimes were revealed after her LaPorte farmhouse was destroyed by fire. A subsequent investigation found four bodies believed to be Belle and her children inside the charred ruins, plus the dismembered remains of at least eleven others buried in the yard and pig pen. It was discovered that the Widow Gunness had been luring lonely men to her farm, robbing, and murdering them for years, all without arousing suspicion. Her luck had recently run out, however, when the brother of one of her victims was able to trace the missing man to her.

Ray Lamphere, Belle’s handyman/side piece, was convicted of arson but claimed he’d acted at the behest of the murderess: burning down the house with her children inside had been her desperate attempt to mislead investigators. Despite the fact her dentist had identified dental work on a jawbone found in the fire as belonging to Belle, Lamphere insisted the remains were that of yet another victim. According to him, Belle had murdered a housekeeper for the express purpose of faking her own death before disappearing into the dark LaPorte night, probably to kill again.

Lamphere died in prison soon after his conviction, but Belle Gunness lived on in the public consciousness. There were sightings of the Lady Bluebeard all over the United States for more than twenty years after her official death.

The full extent of Belle Gunness’s crimes may never be known. She is believed to have killed as few as 14 and as many as 4o people, including both her husbands and the step-children from her first marriage. Some of her victims still remain identified.

Author: IndianaInfamy.com

Writer, photographer, book hoarder, rabble-rouser Contact me on Twitter (@IndianaInfamy) or by email (@IndianaInfamy.gmail.com).

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