DNA May Shine Light on Killer

Headless body's ties to Indiana serial killer in doubt for a century
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2008 2:20 PM CST
Belle Gunness with her children Lucy, Myrtle and Phillip.   (Shutterstock.com)
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(Newser) – Authorities in Indiana are hoping DNA evidence will help them close the case of a woman who killed at least 25 people in the early 20th century before possibly faking her own death. A woman's headless body was found in the burned-out basement of Belle Gunness' house in 1908, and suspicions that the body wasn't hers soon arose, LiveScience reports. She may have fled West and continued killing.

Gunness, who came to be known as "the Black Widow," "has got to be the most prolific female serial killer in history," says biology grad student and ex-prosecutor investigating with DNA from envelopes Gunness posted and material from the exhumed headless corpse. "She clearly killed 25 people, arguably 40, in less than a decade but we're not sure when she died."