Evidence from Dorothea Puente Case Preserved at Center for Sacramento History

SACRAMENTO -- Inside the Center for Sacramento History, there is a collection from one of the city's most disturbing and intriguing investigations -- the case of Dorothea Puente.

"It's our only one that deals with murder," archivist Kim Hayden said. "Certainly we don't have a lot of serial killer collections."

Puente was the grandmotherly woman who ran a boarding house in downtown Sacramento. Thirty years ago, seven bodies were dug up in her side yard. Puente was accused of murdering nine people, poisoning them for their social security checks.

“She doesn’t look the part, so shes fascinating to people," Hayden said.

Hayden spent months processing thousands of pieces of evidence related to the case, including a shovel used to dig up human remains.

"Which is gross," Hayden said.

Drugs Puente used to knock out her victims, forged licenses and photo of Puente the day she was arrested.

"In her sweet red coat," Hayden told FOX40.

What's most interesting to Hayden is a note written on the back of an envelope. A tenant slipped it to police as they questioned him about Puente.

"He went and turned his TV up real loud and then scribbled it on the paper and then showed it to the detective," Hayden said.

It said, "She wants me to lie to you." Hayden says it's just one example of Puente's scheming.

Another piece in the collection is a calendar from Puente's home. Puente tried to cover her tracks by writing down when one of the victims left the house.

"She's written, 'Bert left when I was at church,'" Hayden said.

Detectives ultimately caught Puente. She drugged and killed people for their money. Most of the people she targeted were not capable of protecting themselves.

"Sadness of these people who were sort of cast of from society, sort of forgotten people were killed and really only known about because they were killed," Hayden said. "And that's sad."

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.