Modern Hypotheses

Belle is believed to have netted more than $200,000 in insurance payments and stolen savings, roughly $6 million today, and to have had a hand in as many as 50 murders – 10 times that of her contemporary Jack the Ripper.

Comparatively, the case for Esther as Belle is more compelling than the early 1900’s sightings of Jesse James, Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy put together.

Unfortunately, attempts to analyze DNA from the remains of the headless female in the Sorensen grave, as well as from the body of Esther Carlson, who was buried in California, remain ongoing and have thus far been inconclusive.

Meanwhile, recent psychological profiles of Belle suggest that she was not suicidal; that she was certainly a survivor and gifted liar, probably cunning and psychopathic enough to have killed her own children to evade the law; and that she probably would continue killing for money, if alive.

Given the psychological clues and physical evidence, experts generally agree that Belle Gunness eventually died somewhere other than in La Porte, Indiana – perhaps in Los Angeles, plying her trade until the end.

The head of one of Belle Gunness' victims