Serial killer's home a tourist attraction
A former boarding-house run by a California woman convicted of killing her elderly tenants and burying them in the yard became a tourist destination over the weekend.
The Victorian duplex in Sacramento that had been operated by Dorothea Puente was one of five featured houses on the Sacramento Old City Association's home tour on Sunday.
The house has been renovated since the 1980s, when authorities dug up seven bodies in its front and back yards. Still, visitors could see the room where Puente drained the body fluids from her victims.
Authorities said Puente drugged and killed her victims and stole their Social Security checks.
She was convicted in 1993 of three murders. The jury didn't reach verdicts on six other murder counts. Puente was sentenced to two life sentences and a concurrent 15-year-to-life sentence before she died in prison in 2011 at 82.
The home tour - an annual event - features a different neighbourhood each year and serves as the primary fundraiser for the non-profit Old City Association, which focuses on restoring homes and neighbourhoods in Sacramento's central core.
The featured homes included the governor's mansion.
"What we wanted to show was not this infamous home, but to show that the current owners had turned it back into a loving family home," said William Burg, the association's president.
Burg said the group sold between 800 and 900 tickets for US$20 ($24.25) to US$30 ($36).
Among those who took the tour was John Cabrera, the Sacramento Police Department's lead homicide detective on the case. Cabrera, now retired, pointed out where evidence and bodies were found.
The room where Puente took her victims had a bookshelf, day bed and two carpets when Cabrera walked through the house during the investigation.
"I pulled the carpet and saw there were stains," he told the Sacramento Bee. "I knew right away it was body fluid."
A female mannequin representing Puente stood guard at one corner of a patio deck during the tour. It wore a red coat and held a green shovel.
The home's current owners bought the property in 2010. The renovations included the removal of a wall separating the dining room from the kitchen.
"I love this house. It's happy," Cabrera said of the changes. "This veil of darkness has been lifted."