Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dorothea Puente, Killing for Profit

Easy Money

The easy money she got from hooking was a hard habit for Puente to shake.

In 1948, she stole checks from an acquaintance to buy a hat, purse, shoes and panty hose. She was convicted of forgery, served four years in jail, then skipped town when she was on probation.

Dorothea Puente in orange jumpsuit
Dorothea Puente in orange

In 1952, she married her second husband, Axel Johansson. Johansson was a merchant seaman, Norton writes, and when he returned from long absences, he'd sometimes find other men living with his wife. Neighbors complained of taxis dropping off strange men at all hours of the night. The couple fought, separated, made up, separated, and remained married for 14 more years.

In 1960, she was convicted of residing in a Sacramento brothel. She told authorities she was just visiting a friend, and didn't know it was a whorehouse, according to reports.

In 1968, Puente, 39, opened a halfway house for alcoholics called "The Samaritans," and married 21-year-old Robert Jose Puente. The couple argued constantly, and the marriage ended a year later, as did the halfway house when she ran up a $10,000 debt, the Bee reported.

Soon afterward, she moved into, and began managing, the boarding house located at 21st and F streets in Sacramento, and in 1976, she married one of the tenants, Pedro Angel Montalvo, 52.

"She wanted new pantyhose every day," Montalvo told the Bee. "She thought she was rich."

In 1978, she was convicted of forging 34 checks she'd stolen from her tenants, the Los Angeles Times reported. She served five years on probation and was ordered to undergo counseling; a psychiatrist who interviewed her diagnosed her as a schizophrenic and a "very disturbed woman."


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