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Gertrude Baniszewski
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    (1929-96 16, 1990)
    Birth name was Gertrude Van Fossan
    Tortured and murdered 16-year-old Sylvia Likens, a girl she was boarding (1965)
    She killed 16-year-old Sylvia Marie Likens.
    She spread vicious rumors about Sylvia, saying she was a slut and that she was pregnant.
    She falsely accused Sylvia of pregnancy when her own 17-year-old daughter really was pregnant.
    She burned the message: 'I'M A PROSTITUTE AND PROUD OF IT!' on Sylvia's stomach. She also branded a large number 3 on Sylvia's chest.
    Sylvia's corpse was emaciated, and covered in more than 100 bruises and wounds. The coroner's examination showed that Sylvia had been systematically beaten and malnourished for weeks.
    She led a band of kids, some as young as 11, to emotionally and physically torture Sylvia.
    She dropped out of high school when she was 16.
    Her first marriage ended after a decade. Her second marriage only lasted three months. After it ended, she remarried her first husband and then divorced him again after seven years.
    She was a chain smoker who had asthma and bronchitis.
    She had been pregnant 13 times before she was 40, giving birth to seven children.
    She paddled Sylvia, and Sylvia's younger sister Jenny, without their pants on.
    Her personal hygiene was horrible and her home was described as a 'cesspool.'
    When she was told of Sylvia eating too much at a church supper, she made Sylvia eat a hot dog that her band of children loaded up with condiments. This made Sylvia vomit, and she forced Sylvia to eat her own vomit.
    She would paddle Sylvia and Jenny when their parents sent their boarding check late.
    When two visiting neighbors noticed Sylvia had a black eye, she bragged about how she'd given her the injury. Right before bragging, she threw a glass of hot water at Sylvia.
    The neighbors that witnessed her admission of abuse didn't report it to the authorities.
    Her own children were encouraged to be abusive to Sylvia, and they also bragged about hurting her.
    She often tied up and/or locked Sylvia in the basement and kept her from using the bathroom, forcing Sylvia to urinate and defecate on herself.
    She often kicked Sylvia in the genitals, and Sylvia's autopsy showed that her pubic area was horribly mauled.
    She once pressed a lit match to Sylvia's fingers when she thought Sylvia was stealing.
    She and her boyfriend would put cigarettes out on Sylvia's body.
    Sylvia's autopsy showed that she had to endure so much torture that she broke every one of her fingernails backward in pained clawing, and she'd bitten her lower lip so hard it was partially severed.
    Twice, she forced Sylvia to do a striptease in front of the band of kids, and then shove an empty soda bottle in her vagina.
    She and the kids would tie Sylvia up and force her to bathe in scalding hot water.
    She made Sylvia eat excrement and drink urine.
    When she suspected Sylvia was going to die, she made Sylvia write a note to her parents saying it was a band of boys that killed her in the middle of the night. She then discussed having someone drop Sylvia's corpse off in the waste lot with the note when she finally died.
    She beat Sylvia across the mouth when she couldn't swallow toast because of how sick she was from the abuse.
    She was deeply depressed and addicted to pills.
    After Sylvia died of brain swelling, internal hemorrhaging of the brain, and shock, she blamed all of Sylvia's torture on the kids.
    Although sentenced to life in prison in 1966 for the murder and torture, she was granted parole in 1985.
    She loved her father very much and watched him die of a heart attack when she was 11 years old.
    Her first husband abused her, and later a boyfriend did too.
    She suffered six miscarriages.
    She suffered from asthma, bronchitis, and nervous tension.
    She was born into a lower-class family.
    She died of lung cancer.

Credit: Erin

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