Paula Pace Baniszewski, Marshalltown, Iowa (fired Oct 2012) [Indiana torture slaying participant]

Discussion in 'Hanky Panky' started by TMP, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. TMP

    TMP Himself

    baniszewski paula pace.jpg
    baniszewski paula pace 1966.jpg baniszewski paula pace BCLUW yearbook.jpg

    Paula Place (Marshalltown, Iowa) formerly known as Paula Baniszewski, teachers aide at BCLUW High School [BCLUW Community School District], Conrad, Iowa, fired "for providing false information on her application"

    Note: BCLUW = Beaman-Conrad-Liscomb-Union-Whitten

    In the 1960's Paula Baniszewski was a key participant in the infamous "Indiana torture slaying" memorialized by a book of that name:

    indiana torture slaying.jpg
    This truly one of the most hideous contemporary "true-crime" stories around. I read it several decades ago, and the title immediate came back to me as I read the HuffPo article. Click on the book cover or the link above for more info about the book -- best avoided if you have a weak stomach. It's horrific, really. If you have the stomach for it, click on the book cover or link above for the complete story.​

    An Iowa teacher's aide was fired Tuesday after school officials recently learned she was the member of an Indianapolis family who tortured and killed a girl in the basement of their home in 1965.

    Paula Pace had worked for the BCLUW consolidated school district based in the central Iowa town of Conrad since 1998. She was a teacher's aide at the district's high school.

    Superintendent Ben Petty said the school board fired Pace for providing false information on her application. Petty said he could not comment further about the case. The board made the decision after meeting in special session to discuss the matter.

    The district was notified by Grundy County Sheriff Rick Penning, who said his office received an anonymous telephone call last Wednesday informing him that Pace was Paula Baniszewski, formerly of Indianapolis, who had been convicted of manslaughter for participating in the torture and murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens in 1965.

    How horrific is horrific? This will give you a clue ...

    Indy Star: StarFiles: The 1965 murder of Sylvia Likens - 1965 torture slaying remains one of Indianapolis' most notorious crimes (Oct 5 2012)


    Sylvia's body was malnourished and covered with sores, burns and bruises, many of them old. She had been branded in one spot by a hot metal object, and the words "I am a prostitute" had been etched on her stomach.


    Gertrude was frail and underweight, but she had two weapons she used for corporal punishment -- a fraternity-style paddle and a thick leather belt left behind by her ex-husband, John Baniszewski -- an Indianapolis police officer.

    Gertrude began using the paddle on Sylvia and Jenny for various offenses such as exchanging soft drink bottles for change at a nearby grocery. When she suspected Sylvia of stealing she used matches to burn the girl's fingers.

    Sometimes Gertrude felt too weak from her asthma to discipline the girls properly so 17-year-old Paula helped.

    Neighborhood children began to crowd the home to participate in the torture. The children took turns practicing their judo on Sylvia, hurling her against a wall. Some began kicking and beating her. Others extinguished their cigarettes on her skin. As Gertrude and a gang of teen-agers watched, Sylvia was forced to undress in the living room and insert an empty Coke bottle into her vagina.

    After the beatings, Sylvia was forced into a scalding hot bath so she would be "cleansed of her sins." She was severely beaten and burned for wetting her mattress while asleep and Gertrude decided that Sylvia was no longer fit to live with her children.

    Near the end, Sylvia was no longer permitted to leave the house. She was thrown down the cellar stairs and locked in, given crackers for food and refused the right to use a bathroom. Gertrude Baniszewski announced to her children that Sylvia was a "prostitute, and she's proud of it; so we'll just put it on her stomach." She took a large needle and began to carve the words "I'm a prostitute and proud of it!" into Sylvia's stomach. Richard Hobbs, a neighbor boy, finished the etching.


    Paula Pace, Paula Baniszewski, Conrad, Iowa, Marshalltown, BCLUW High School, BCLUW Community School District
  2. TMP

    TMP Himself

    Times Republican: BCLUW employee suspended after past murder revelations (Oct 20 2012)

    A BCLUW School District employee named Paula Pace is actually the former Paula Baniszewski, who served years in prison decades ago for her role in a murder in 1965 in Indiana. Her identity was reported by members of the Conrad community Friday who said she is on suspension with the district.

    Times Republican: Former manslaughter convict fired by BCLUW school district: School board votes unanimously for termination (Oct 24 2012)

    Paula Pace has been terminated as an employee in the BCLUW School District after 14 years of work ... The BCLUW School Board held a special meeting Tuesday night that included a closed session hearing on the employment status of Pace. The board came out of that 30-minute closed session and voted 7-0 to terminate Pace.

    WCF Courier: UPDATE: BCLUW school aide fired after call about '65 killing (Oct 24 2012)

    Officials with the BCLUW School District late Tuesday fired Paula Pace, a 14-year veteran, after information surfaced about her violent criminal history. The now former teacher’s aide at the high school in Conrad served time in prison as a result of her involvement in a 1965 murder in Indiana. Her name then was Paula Baniszweski, and she was convicted of manslaughter for the death of a 16-year-old girl. The heinous crime involved several people, including Pace’s mother and brother, who tortured the girl in Baniszweski’s basement. Pace at the time was 17. The murder inspired books and a movie, and remains, according to the Indianapolis Star, “one of the most notorious and gruesome crimes in the city’s history.”
  3. TMP

    TMP Himself

    Note: The first of these two Des Moines Register articles contains a lot of background information on the 1965 Indiana murder case, including a 36-photo slideshow.

    Des Moines Register: Update: Teacher's aide convicted of 1965 manslaughter fired from BCLUW district [SLIDESHOW] (Oct 23 2012)

    A Central Iowa school board tonight fired teacher’s aide Paula Pace for falsifying information on her job application, a move that came less than a week after district officials linked her to the 1965 torture and murder of an Indiana teenage girl. After the emergency school board meeting, BCLUW School District Superintendent Ben Petty declined to comment on Pace or clarify the specific information Pace falsified on her application about 14 years ago.

    Des Moines Register: Central Iowa school aide, tied to 1965 murder, fired for falsifying job info (Oct 23 2012)

    Paula Pace, known 47 years ago as Paula Baniszewski, pled guilty to manslaughter and served two years in prison after her family abused and murdered 16-year-old Sylvia Likens. An anonymous caller tipped Grundy County Sheriffs to Pace’s past last week, the Associated Press reported. No one answered the door this afternoon at Pace’s Marshalltown home; her telephone was disconnected.
  4. TMP

    TMP Himself

    New York Daily News: Iowa teacher’s aide fired for leaving a detail off her resume — her role in the 1965 torture death of a teen girl (Oct 24 2012)

    Paula Pace’s victim died from a brain hemorrhage and extreme malnutrition. School board boots her following emergency meeting after they learn shocking details of manslaughter conviction.

    Paula Pace was “a sweet lady” who “helped out any student she could” at BCLUW High School in Conrad, former student Thaddeus Lawler told the Des Moines Register.

    But before she was Paula Pace, she was Paula Baniszewski. She spent two years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter for the 1965 murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens.

    Fox News: Iowa teacher aide fired after school officials learn of role in 1965 killing (Oct 24 2012)

    Paula Pace had worked for the BCLUW consolidated school district based in the central Iowa town of Conrad since 1998. She was a teacher's aide at the district's high school.

    Superintendent Ben Petty said the school board fired Pace for providing false information on her application. Petty said he could not comment further about the case. The board made the decision after meeting in special session to discuss the matter.

    The district was notified by Grundy County Sheriff Rick Penning, who said his office received an anonymous telephone call last Wednesday informing him that Pace was Paula Baniszewski, formerly of Indianapolis, who had been convicted of manslaughter for participating in the torture and murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens in 1965.

    ABC News: Teacher's Aide Fired for Revelation of Role in Grisly 1965 Killing (Oct 24 2012)

    An Iowa teacher's aide has been fired from her job following the revelation that she was a member of an Indiana family notorious for torturing and killing a girl in their basement in 1965.

    "A week ago today we got an anonymous report that the now Paula Pace was the previous Paula Baniszewski involved in this 1965 murder case in Indiana and it was a real attention-seeker out there, a heinous crime," Grundy County Sheriff Rick Penning told today.

    Paula Baniszewski was 17 years old in the summer of 1965 when a 16-year-old girl names Sylvia Likens and her sister came to stay with Baniszewski's family. In the months that followed, Likens was beaten, burned, malnourished and branded with a hot needle. Her body was found in the basement of the home in October of that year.

    The case became one of the most infamous crimes in Indiana and has been the subject of several books and movies.
  5. TMP

    TMP Himself

    Reading the story of Lauren Cavenaugh in Texas remind me of this case. Here is an update from 2015:

    Looking Back On Indiana’s Most Infamous Crime, 50 Years Later

    The torture and murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens instantly became the state’s most heinous crime. And while almost all of the participants are dead, the memory of what occurred—and how little they paid for it—certainly isn’t.

    21 October 2015

    It was called the most terrible crime ever committed in Indiana, and half a century later, that title still holds. On October 26, 1965, police found Sylvia Likens’s emaciated corpse—covered with more than 150 wounds ranging from burns to cuts—sprawled on a filthy mattress in the Indianapolis home of 37-year-old Gertrude Baniszewski, mother of seven and the architect of the girl’s gruesome death. The details of her demise, revealed at the 1966 trial, defy belief. Sylvia’s carnival-worker parents boarded her and her sister Jenny with Baniszewski for $20 a week. But when one of their checks arrived late, Baniszewski took ...

    Gertrude Baniszewski
    Time Served: 20 Years

    Originally found guilty of first-degree murder, Gertrude (or Gertie, as she was sometimes called) was sentenced to life in prison—a judgment confirmed by a 1971 retrial. During her years at the Indiana Women’s Prison, she was considered a model prisoner and earned the nickname of “Mom.” In spite of widespread public outcry, she was paroled in 1985. She moved to Iowa, changed her name to Nadine Van Fossan, and died of lung cancer on June 16, 1990. She never took responsibility for her crimes, claiming she “couldn’t remember” her actions. “I never thought she was insane,” Bumppo says. “I thought ...

    Paula Baniszewski
    Time Served: 7 Years

    When Gertrude, a sickly asthmatic, didn’t feel up to “disciplining” Sylvia, she relied on her oldest child, Paula, to help out. Which she did, enthusiastically. She was 17 at the time, and it was rumored that she and Sylvia disliked each other from the start. In 1966, Paula was convicted of second-degree murder, but when her conviction was overturned in 1971 on a technicality, she pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter rather than face a retrial. She got 2-to-21 years but, in spite of attempting a prison break, was paroled in March 1972 and released completely in March 1974. She changed ...

    Stephanie Baniszewski
    Time Served: Years

    The second-oldest of the Baniszewski children, Stephanie was 15 at the time of the crime. Though she admitted to participating to some degree in Sylvia’s abuse, she was granted a special trial and then all charges against her were dropped, likely because she agreed to turn state’s evidence against her family. She reportedly changed her name, married, had children, worked as a teacher, and now lives in Florida.

    John Baniszewski
    Time Served: 2 Years

    The third-oldest of the Baniszewski children and an active participant in Sylvia’s torture, John was 12 when she died. Convicted of manslaughter, he became the Indiana State Reformatory’s youngest inmate, serving just two years before being released. He changed his name to John Blake and drifted aimlessly before experiencing a religious epiphany that, he said, helped him see the error of his ways. Allegedly the only member of the Baniszewski clan to show public remorse for his deeds, he made no attempt to hide his past and even spoke about it publicly on occasion. Reportedly a lay minister and real-estate ...

    Marie Baniszewski
    Time Served: None

    Fourth-oldest of the Baniszewski children, Marie was 11 when the torture took place. No charges were brought against her. She testified during the trial, becoming the sole member of the Baniszewski family to cry on the stand during questioning. She reportedly still lives in Indiana.

    Shirley Baniszewski
    Time Served: None

    Fifth-oldest of the Baniszewski children, Shirley was the youngest of the family to actively participate in Sylvia’s torture. Although the 10-year-old heated a needle that was used to burn the victim, she was never charged with any crime. Her whereabouts today are unknown.

    James Baniszewski

    Time Served: None

    Because he was only 8 at the time, James was not arrested nor called to testify, although some reports suggested he played a role in the crime. Of all the Baniszewski offspring, the least is known about him.

    Dennis Lee Wright Jr.
    Not Culpable

    The youngest of the Baniszewski children, Dennis was a newborn when Sylvia met her fate. He was the son of Gertrude’s lover, Dennis Lee Wright Sr., who abandoned the family shortly after his namesake’s birth. Supposedly, he was placed in foster care and was later adopted by the White family, who changed his name to Denny Lee White. He died in 2012 in California.

    Coy Hubbard
    Time Served: 2 Years

    A neighborhood kid and Stephanie Baniszewski’s boyfriend, Hubbard was a full participant in Sylvia’s torture. His “contributions” included using her as a practice dummy for judo flips and punches and shoving her down the basement stairs. Convicted of manslaughter, he served only two years before being released. His attorney, Forrest Bowman Jr., remembers running into him in the early 1970s when he stopped at a near-downtown gas station where Hubbard happened to work. “He was very effusive and said, ‘Come inside, I want to introduce you to my boss,’” Bowman recalls. “I said sure. That was the last contact I ...

    Richard Hobbs
    Time Served: 2 Years

    Another neighborhood kid who tortured Sylvia, Hobbs performed the infamous act of helping to carve the words “I am a prostitute and proud of it” into her stomach with a large needle. The macabre task was begun by Gertrude, but when she became too fatigued to finish, Hobbs stepped in. Convicted of manslaughter, he served a short sentence and died of cancer in 1972 at age 21.

    Lester C. Likens

    Sylvia’s father was a carnival worker who decided to leave his kids with a third party while he and his wife, Betty, were on the road. His only “crime” was that he didn’t vet the Baniszewski home more thoroughly before leaving two of his daughters in Gertrude’s custody. “We [he and Gertrude] got to talking, and she said she would take care of the children and treat them like her own,” he recalled at the trial. Lester apparently believed her, because during several subsequent trips to the house—the last on October 5, just weeks before his daughter’s death—he noticed nothing ...

    Betty Likens

    Visibly devastated, Sylvia’s mother gave only short responses on the witness stand at the trial. She divorced Lester in 1967, remarried, and died on May 29, 1998, at age 71. She was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, where she shares a headstone with her brother.

    Dianna Likens

    In the midst of the ordeal, Sylvia’s sister Jenny—who was also boarded at the Baniszewskis’—reportedly called their older sister Dianna for help. Believing that the girls were simply grumbling, Dianna initially ignored the plea. But her suspicions were raised when Gertrude wouldn’t let her in the house for a visit. She then spotted Jenny, who said she wasn’t allowed to talk to her and ran away. Dianna contacted social services, but when a worker showed up at the Baniszewski residence, Jenny told her (on threat of punishment from Gertrude) that Sylvia had run away. No further action was taken. Dianna ...

    Jenny Likens

    Perhaps because she was crippled by polio, Jenny didn’t suffer nearly as much abuse as her sister Sylvia did. From the beginning, she had opportunities to tell neighbors what was going on, but she didn’t because she feared she would make things worse. Indeed, one of the enduring mysteries of the case is why neither she nor Sylvia sought help before things escalated. “I speculate that there was never any experience in Sylvia’s life, up to the time she went into Gertie’s house, when she learned that people would come to her aid,” says Bowman, Hubbard’s attorney. “She wasn’t conditioned ...