This is my first posting regarding the book I am writing: "Aunt Belle," about serial killer Belle Gunness, my great-grandmother's sister.
I have just last week come to Norway to wrap up the research on this book, which has been the adventure of a lifetime! Since 1994, I have searched microfilm, traveled twice to Chicago, Illinois, and La Porte, Indiana, interviewed many people related to the story, and have become good friends with many descendants and relatives of victims. It has been a kind of healing experience.
Not that I needed to feel guilty about the horrible deeds of my pathological ancestor, but I was devastated to learn that I was related to someone like that . . . I believe anyone would be.
Belle Gunness was an infamous serial killer at the turn of the century (from 1902 to 1908), and was labeled the "Black Widow," and "Lady Bluebeard." She had something against men from the country of Norway, land of her birth. It was a puzzle I knew I had to solve from the beginning, but was still clueless, until November of 2007, upon my second visit to La Porte, Indiana, the location of her pig farm. You'll need to read the book to discover the surprise I uncovered.
I plan to have it completed by the end of this year, 2009. In April of 1908, after the ashes were cold from the fire that leveled her farm house, bodies began to be found . . . first in the house, and, one by one, all around the farm, under small mounds of dirt.
Authorities stopped digging after the 27th body was unearthed. However, estimates are as high as 50 victims, based on letters received after the news broke . . . letters stating that the last time many families saw a particular loved one, he was headed to La Porte, Indiana, to marry a nice widow woman with a pig farm.
You can Google "Belle Gunness" or "Suzanne McKay" and you will learn more about her, and about me and my book, as well as an exhumation we had in November of 2008, complete with forensics team from Indiana, at the family gravesite in Chicago, to exhume the "body" of Belle, conduct DNA tests, and prove that the body in her grave is NOT HER!
Ah, but you'll just have to read my book to find out everything. So, stay tuned, and learn of updates concerning the status of the book.
Tomorrow, I'm headed up north to the little town she was born in, and I'll be touring the farm where she lived much of her girlhood as an "indentured" dairy maid; meeting with a historian specializing in her life, and two cousins of mine, whom I have never met before. My one son, who lives in Norway, is going with me and will act as interpreter.
I plan to post more about my trip on Friday, May 29th, when I return to my son's residence in Honefoss, Norway.
Feel free to comment. I appreciate your interest.