Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dorothea Puente, Killing for Profit

Deadly Fiancée

Authorities alleged that Puente committed her first murder in the spring of 1982, when 61-year-old Ruth Munroe died of a drug overdose shortly after she moved into 1426 F Street with Puente, bringing all her earthly belongings and $6,000 in cash.

Ruth Munroe
Ruth Munroe

Munroe was Puente's business partner in a small lunchroom business, according to the Bee, and she'd written her husband — who was terminally ill and residing at a Veterans Administration Hospital — that she was excited about the partnership and optimistic about the future.

But a scant two weeks after she'd moved in, she ran into a friend at a beauty parlor and blurted out: "I feel like I'm going to die." When the friend asked her why, according to the reports, Munroe told the woman, "I don't know."

Three days later, Munroe was dead of a massive overdose of Tylenol and codeine. The coroner wrote it off as suicide, not having enough evidence to classify it as a homicide.

A month later, however, Puente was arrested and charged with drugging four elderly people and stealing their valuables. One of the victims, a 74-year-old-man, told the Sacramento Bee that Puente doped him, then looted his home as he watched in a stupor, unable to speak or move.

A judge sentenced Puente to five years in the California Institution for Women at Frontera. She was released after three years, in 1985, and ordered to stay away from the elderly and to not "handle government checks of any kind issued to others," according to the Los Angeles Times.


We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'