On January 14, 1980, St. Louis, Missouri police were called to a scene where a car bomb had been successfully detonated. Killed instantly in the blast had been 59-year-old dental laboratory owner Sophie Marie Berrera. During the time of the bombing, Sophie had been embroiled in a heated legal battle with an area dentist who had defaulted on more than $14,000 worth of laboratory fees. Little did investigators know that their number one suspect in the Berrera car bombing case had been making murder a cottage industry for nearly three decades.
Dr. Glennon Engleman seemed to have it all, a nice family and a career as a well-respected dentist within the community. The kindly dentist had a reputation as being one of the best and had even provided treatment for some of his poorest patients free of charge. Engleman had the American Dream but looks can be very deceiving.
Investigators believe that Engleman’s killing career began as early as 1958. After three years of marriage, Engleman and his first wife, Ruth Ball, filed for a divorce. The divorce was on mutual terms. Ball had continued to be a patient of Engleman, and from time to time the pair also still had sex. When Ball remarried another patient of Engleman’s named James Bullock, he was found shot in front of an art museum. Investigators believed that it had been Ball’s vengeful ex-husband who may have had something to do with the murder.
Engleman’s former wife, Ruth Ball, was able to collect $65,000 on Bullock’s life insurance policy and investigators pressed further to convict both Ball and Engleman for the conspiracy to murder the ill-fated Bullock. When investigators received backlash from the press for such harsh treatment of a grieving widow, police were forced to back off and Engleman and Ball walked away from the crime $65,000 richer.
By 1963 Engleman had been remarried and had his sights set on starting up a successful drag racing track. With the help of Eric Frey, who had recently married one of Engleman’s former girlfriends, the pair began work on the track. Construction was quickly halted on the project when Frey and a large amount of dynamite were found on the bottom of a well at the site.
Frey’s death was ruled to have been a tragic accident and his widow was made the beneficiary of Frey’s $25,000 life insurance policy. Sinking more than $16,000 of the money into Engleman’s drag racing scheme, but by 1964 the business went belly up and Engleman would have to find a new woman who would lead her husband to his doom.
Engleman was not an attractive man but he was a smooth talker. Using his gift of gab, Engleman was able to seduce women, most of which were his own patients or dental assistants, into having their husbands murdered for financial gain. In many of his later murders, Engleman handpicked men for women who had been under his spell to marry and both would walk off with the life insurance policy.
Money wasn’t the only motive that drove Engleman to kill. His job as a successful dentist more than paid his bills. Engleman had once told reporters, “It takes a certain kind of person to be able to kill another human being.” No words could ever ring truer. While many murderers may be motivated by greed, to kill multiple human beings without the slightest bit of remorse takes a certain kind of brain chemistry. It takes a person who derives pleasure from the kill to continue on repeating the act.
It would be nearly a decade after Frey’s “unfortunate accident” before Engleman would attempt to kill again. This time Engleman convinced his dental assistant, 24-year-old Carmen Miranda, to marry a man named Peter Halm. While Miranda didn’t have much interest in Halm, Engleman used his charms to persuade Miranda into marrying him anyway. Shortly after the marriage, Halm was murdered and Engleman walked away with $10,000 of Halm’s $75,000 life insurance policy.
In 1977, Engleman would orchestrate his most heinous crime, the murder of an entire family. Once again using his legendary charms, Engleman seduced a female patient named Barbara Boyle. Both Engleman and Boyle worked together to find her a wealthy man to marry and then murder him for the insurance money.
Boyle was successful and in 1976, Boyle married Ronald Gusewelle. There was only one problem, while Gusewelle had a considerable amount of wealth in his own right, it was Gusewelle’s parents, Arthur and Vernita Gusewelle, who possessed most of the family fortune. Engleman broke into the Gusewelles’ farmhouse and shot both Arthur and Vernita in cold blood. Upon their untimely deaths, Gusewelle inherited half of the family’s farm.
Throughout their marriage, Boyle had taken out multiple life insurance policies on behalf of her husband. Just two years after the shocking murder of his parents, Gusewelle returned home to find his wife standing in the garage with a stack of towels and a man holding a gun. Gusewelle was greeted by two bullets – one to the chest and another to the head – before he was bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer. Boyle was later sentenced to 50 years for her hand in the murders but was released in 2009.
It wasn’t until after Engleman’s arrest for the car bombing that investigators were finally able to close the case on these murders. Though Engleman admitted to many others, prosecutors could only connect him to five. Engleman died in prison in 1999 from diabetes-related complications. Several horror movies, including The Dentist, were later made based on the crimes of Dr. Engleman.