May 14,2008 00:00
LAPORTE, Ind. -- Forensic anthropologists and a team of graduate students are trying to determine whether a wealthy Indiana woman who lived 100 years ago was a serial killer.
Belle Gunness, dubbed "Lady Bluebeard," is suspected of killing as many as 30 people at her hilltop farm in LaPorte, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday. Authorities discovered at least 11 dismembered bodies buried on the farm after a fire destroyed the farmhouse in April 1908.
Investigators now say they believe Gunness set the fire and faked her own death because officials were about to discover her murder spree, the Tribune says. Witnesses at the time reported that the burned farmhouse reeked of kerosene.
Forensic anthropologist Andrea Simmons and a team from the University of Indianapolis obtained permission to exhume the bodies of Gunness' children to find out if they were bludgeoned to death before the fire.
Over the years, suspicion has grown that Gunness escaped the fire and the woman buried in her grave was another of her victims.
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