Belle Sorenson Gunness Case Analysis Early life Belle Sorenson Gunness was the daughter of Paul Pedersen Storset, who was a stonemason, and Berit Olsdatter. She was born on November 22, 1859 in Selbu, Norway, originally named Brynhild Paulsdatter Storseth, and was the youngest of 8 siblings and lived on a very small cotter’s farm. Belle was a very large women being around six feet tall and weighing over two hundred pounds. Some say she was so muscular that she was sometimes mistaken for a man. Her family was very poor and this made Belle wish to have money when she became older, not wanting to live the way she did as a child.
Due to this, she was picked on during her schooling which made her have a very rough childhood. People described her as being malicious and a liar. When Belle was only 18, she became pregnant, which ended in a miscarry after being kicked in the abdomen by a man who attacked her at a county dance, the man who came from a rich family was never prosecuted but got stomach cancer shortly after and died. After this traumatic event, her personality changed dramatically, according to people who knew her and family friends.
After this, Belle took service the next year on a large, wealthy farm and served there for three years as a servant in order to pay for a trip across the Atlantic to live in America. She came to the United states in 1881 and worked again as a servant. Her motive for coming to the US was to escape the life in poverty that she was living and become well off. In 1881, she finally made her trip to america, starting her new life in Chicago Illinois, and changed her name to the more American name; Belle. Only a few years later she married her first husband named Mads Sorenson in 1884.
Mads was a small business owner and he moved him and Belle to a house with a confectionary store which he managed, While she worked as a nurse who performed abortions on young women. While they lived there, Mads business was very unsuccessful. It is said the the couple had four children, Caroline, Axel, Myrtle, and lucy. In 1884, the Sorensons house and sore mysteriously burned down while afterwards, the couple collected the insurance money for the suspected arson, but no one was ever prosecuted.
The First Kill At only the age of 24, Belle made her first kill. ut before this, two of her children, Caroline and Axel died during infancy, of acute colitis which has symptoms of nausea, lower abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fever which are similar symptoms of different forms of poisoning. Although Belle was never accused of poisoning her children, there are suspicions that she was responsible for their deaths. Coinsedently, both children had life insurance, and the companies paid out. But her first known murder was of her husband, Mads, on July 30, 1900. On that day, Mads two life insurance policies overlapped on that same day of his death.
When the doctors examined his body, they found what looked to be strychnine poisoning, But prior to that, the sorenson family doctor had been treating him for a case of enlarged heart so instead he concluded that Mads had died of a heart failure. Shortly after her husband’s funeral, the applied for the life insurance money, and they also paid up. She was awarded with $8,5000. The relatives of Mads sorenson were suspicious of his death so they accused her of poisoning him. Then then demanded an inquest, but whether the investigation actually occurred is unclear.
Belle then used the insurance money to buy a farm on the outskirts of La Porte, Indiana, on McClung Road, in 1901. And moved there with her remaining two kids, and a recently adopted 10 year old girl named Jennie Olson. Only a year later, she got married to Peter Gunness on April 1, 1902. Peter had two daughters and shortly after the wedding, Belle was alone with one of them in the house as she died of uncertain causes. Out of fear of Belle, Peter send his other daughter away to live with relatives, being the only child to have survived Belle. In December of 1902, another “tragic accident” occurred under Belle’s roof.
Peter was reaching for something in the kitchen when he was suddenly scalded with a brine. When Belle was questioned about his death, she stated that a sausage cutting machine fell on him from a high shelf on accident and caused his death. Peter’s life insurance company then paid for his death awarding Belle with another $3,000. During this time, Belle was pregnant but she did not notify anyone of this during the investigation. In 1903 she gave birth to her son Phillip, and that year she also hired a farm hand named Ray Lamphere. During her years living at the farm, she out articles in newspapers looking for suitors to marry.
The article she wrote said: “Personal — comely widow who owns a large farm in one of the finest districts in La Porte County, Indiana, desires to make the acquaintance of a gentleman equally well provided, with view of joining fortunes. No replies by letter considered unless sender is willing to follow answer with personal visit. Triflers need not apply. ” (Wikipedia) They would move to her farm to marry her only to never be found again. Once her farm burned down in 1908 investigators found the remains of over 40 different people, including her children.
They also found the body of a headless woman which they believed to be Belle. But investigators later ruled out the possibility of her matching the corpse because the charred body was a lot smaller than how big Belle actually was. Behavioral Belle did many gruesome things in order to get the wealth she always dreamed of. Being born in poverty, I can see where her need for riches comes from. The early life she lived in Norway was never what she wanted for herself, so she was willing to do whatever it took to get the life she thought she deserved.
She was very materialistic and cared more about the luxuries in life more than anything. Belle did many suspicious things for money, and some of her neighbors say that even after giving birth to her supposed children, they looked older than a regular newborn would, suggesting that she might have stolen them, only to kill them off later for life insurance money. Due to all the struggles she faced as a child, I believe that this was a big factor in the things she did as an adult. From early on, she was forced to act like an adult even when she was young, being forced to get a job to help support her family.
Also, the servant job she had during her teen years added to her feelings of being the lessor to the people around her. And to add to this, being unable to protect herself and her unborn child when she was attacked by the rich boy who went without punishment added to these feelings. This caused a lot of trust issues when it came to the way Belle looked at people and you can see this in her behavior because there was not one person of significance in her entire life. From the day she was born, she always was considered inferior to everyone around her, and as she was growing up, she was determined to be superior to everyone around her.
Being so untrusting in people, this gave her the abilities to manipulate whoever she wanted, and due to this, she was unable to form committed relationships. She proves this with her abilities to lure men into her life and rid them of their wealth and kill them without any excessive punishment. Her article she put in the papers stated that she wanted a wealthy men to come seek love with her. When she did this, she would ask them for the money up front then marry them after they had already paid up. With that being said, her main target was wealthy single men.
She would then act out their “Happy” marriage for a while, then kill them off to collect whatever money and life insurance dollars she could. She did this in a way where every time it looked like an accident or act of nature. Relatives of the men who disappeared on her behalf would sometimes come investigate the disappearance but would mostly come out empty handed due to Belle’s manipulative skills. Her locations for all her crimes would be in her own home, here she could easily work out accidents to happen to them to cause their deaths.
Belle, although, could have been a little more carefull with the way she worked in my opinion. She would always kill her husbands within a year or two of them being together, and if they had kids, she would rid her house if them even sooner. I think this factor raised a lot more suspicion when it comes to her case. If she would have waited 5 years or more to kill them, it would have looked a lot less set up, and it would have been a little safer for her when people began to look into her methods. But Belle did not work this way.
She needed their wealth to become her own as soon as possible and this did cause some problems for her especially with the death of her second husband Peter. She was almost announced guilty but then she made it known that she was pregnant with his child and this made people feel sorry for her, so she walked away without prosecution. This brings up her manipulation abilities because it is not even known if she ever actually had kids of her own bringing up the idea of fake pregnancies and stealing children and calling them her own. All in all, Belle was very crafty with the ways she went about committing the murders.
She had the wrong type of mindset that made her deadly. Her need for money poisoned her mind into doing whatever it took to achieve what she thought was the life she deserved. The End OF Belle Although there is no certainty on what happened to Belle, some say that it was her headless body found in the fire, but this isn’t the probable fate of her. She was never apprehended and there was never a trial on her. She was allegedly seen in cities all around the united states and some have reported seeing her in California where she lived out the rest of her days.
It i noted that three days after the fire, she was seen by a paper boy in the kitchen of her friend Elizabeth Smith in La P Detectives all over America have reportedly seen her in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. All the way up to 1931 she was even seen living in Mississippi where she supposedly owned many acres of land, as she became an American tail and lived out the rest of her life without a trace left behind. There is only one thing sure about Belle’s fait though, that she took all her secrets with her to the grave. National Headlines
There were many aspects of Belle and her tragedies that made news all around America, like the amount of murders she committed and got away with, and the fact that she was never caught. But I think the most interesting part about it is the mystery of It, and everyone around America thought so too. When the body parts began to turn up, it made national headlines and everyone was talking about Belle and her horrors. People everywhere were talking about the terrors that took place on the murder farm, and even 100 years later, investigators were still out to find the truth.
In 2007, the forensic team from the University of Indianapolis dug up the headless body that was presumed to be Belle’s, in effort to see if this in fact, was the body of Belle. The team tried to get DNA off an envelope found at Belle’s farm, that was licked and sealed shut by her. Unfortunately there was not enough viable DNA from the envelope to match it to the body. Due to this, the legend of Belle lived on and to this day, no one knows where she actually ended up. She will forever