“You didn’t have to face what I had to face,” Hilma Marie Witte told her mother, Marcie O’Donnell. Referring to the dismemberment of her murdered mother-in-law, Elaine Witte, she continued, “I just finished the head.”
Inspiration strikes in the strangest of places.
Belle Gunness was a lady fair
In Indiana State.
She weighed about three hundred pounds,
And that is quite a weight.
That she was stronger than a man
Her neighbors all did own;
She butchered hogs quite easily,
And did it all alone.
But hogs were just a sideline
She indulged in now and then;
Her favorite occupation
Was a-butchering of men—Anonymous, “The Ballad of Belle Gunness”
“My mom said I could strangle her or use my crossbow. It was up to me.”
– Hans Dieter (John David) “Butch” Witte, describing the conspiracy to kill and dismember his grandmother Elaine. Sentenced to a twenty-year manslaughter term for taking part in the murder, Butch was released in 1996.
“There is altogether too much cunning and humbug in this land. Honesty, sincerity, and righteousness last the longest. Where they are found to be on both sides everything will be all right.”
– Serial killer Belle Gunness, in an excerpt from a love letter she wrote to Andrew Heiglein. Heiglein was lured to her LaPorte farm under the guise of marriage, then robbed and murdered.