THE TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
She looked like everyone’s grandmother: white-haired, plump, bespectacled, and kindly. Only Dorothea Montalvo Puente’s eyes, black and hard behind her glasses, hinted at the evil that lurked within. She was the rarest of murderers, a female serial killer—probably the most cold-blooded ever recorded in the annals of crime.
This shocking story of the gruesome murder of seven men for profit comes from bestselling author William P. Wood, the Deputy D.A. who had earlier prosecuted Puente for drugging and robbing elderly people. He knew intimately the malice that coursed through her veins, and thought he had seen the last of this callous and calculating woman. But her chameleon-like deviousness helped her reappear as a sweet, benevolent landlord—and later allowed her to escape police custody as they stood in her yard surrounded by the gaping graves. The Bone Garden chronicles the discoveries that ignited a media firestorm and transfixed a nation, putting an entirely new face on evil in this country.
|Publisher:||Turner Publishing Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
WILLIAM P. WOOD is the author of eight novels and one nonfiction book. As a deputy district attorney in California he handled thousands of criminal cases ranging from disturbing the peace to murder. He put on over 50 jury trials, many with multiple defendants.
Read an Excerpt
Many people in the crowd knew about Dorothea Puente. Some had lived briefly at 1426 F Street, then left or been thrown out. They moved among the crowd, spreading tales of the tyrannical woman. She alternately cared for them and terrorized them. The former tenants and people who had heard other, more terrible rumors, all shivered with loathing and anticipation. For a long time many of them had believed people were dying strangely behind the gray walls, the high windows, the wrought-iron fence at 1426 F Street.
Every so often, Puente peered down from a second-story window at the crowd and the TV news trucks wedged tightly into the street.
By 8:00 a.m. the police had returned in force. They planned to dig up the entire L-shaped yard that ran from the driveway of 1426 F Street, around the house in a narrow course to the right, and ended against the next-door neighbor’s wooden fence.
The long police barricades kept the growing crows, somewhere near three hundred, across the street. The whole block of F Street was closed off at either end. The loud rumble of TV trucks’ generators, a backhoe working the yard, and the massed voices thickened the air. The rain that had started on Friday, Veterans Day, tapered into a persistent dreary drizzle, fanned by a cold wind from the gray sky.
Inside 1426 F Street only a few tenants remained. Some had left when the police began seriously asking questions the day before. But Puente stayed. She was up early, around six, and ate a simple meal of eggs and toast. She was agitated and started drinking, too. Although she hated drunks, Puente often drank heavily, mostly in private, sometimes in bars, but usually only with people she trusted, like the man who joined her for breakfast, Mervin John McCauley. He was her longtime friend and sometime victim. They had vodka and orange juice cocktails.
They ate in the second floor kitchen, separated from the tenants who had their own stove downstairs. McCauley was like Puente, in his early sixties. He had a scraggly gray beard, and his thin body trembled because he was an antique alcoholic. He waved his bandaged hand and chain-smoked as they drank and talked.
It was an uncomfortable morning for them both. They could hear the people outside and the loud noise, the men moving around the yard and the machinery. Puente swore to McCauley. Her face was still unnaturally tight from a recent cosmetic operation so she looked like she was half-grimacing. She wore a blue dress. Her white hair, nearly pinned back, and her glasses combined to make her look kindly.
Puente kept getting up to refill their glasses. McCauley was little help. She had to do something soon.
The police had already found on body in the backyard. It was, the police discovered, an elderly woman, wrapped in a cloth and a blanket, secured with duct tape. Puente knew the woman’s name was Leona Carpenter.