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 • Laurel
 • Marshall County
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Gertrude Nadine Van Fossan Baniszewski
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Birth: Sep. 19, 1928
Indianapolis
Marion County
Indiana, USA
Death: Jun. 16, 1990
Iowa, USA

Gertrude Baniszewski was a notable murderess from Indiana. Not much is known of her childhood, except that she was close to her father who died of a heart attack in 1939, when she was just 11 years old. She was the 3rd of six children. In 1945, at age 16, she dropped out of High School to marry 18 year old John Baniszewski, who was a Deputy. They had 4 children together. John and Gertrude divorced after 10 years, in 1955. Then she was briefly married to Edward Gutherie, they divorced after 3 months, he didn't want to take care of another man's horde of children. John and Gertrude remarried and had two more children together, they divorced in 1963. At age 37, she moved in with 23 year old Dennis Lee Wright, they had one child together, a son, Dennis Lee Wright Jr. Dennis Sr. abandoned both Gertrude and his infant son, shortly after his birth. Altogether, Gertrude had 13 pregnancies, 6 miscarriages, and 7 surviving children. She was left destitute in a rundown house in Indianapolis, with 7 children to support on her own. A couple she had been acquainted with, Lester and Betty Likens, was working with a traveling carnival in Florida, and asked her to take in their two daughters, Sylvia-16, and Jenny-15, while they were away on carnival tours. They told her they'd pay her $20.00 a week. Gertrude agreed. Lester Likens said the girls needed firm discipline and encouraged Gertrude to straighten them out. Gertrudes eldest child, Paula, was 17 and pregnant at the time. Her youngest being the baby, Dennis. Neighborhood children frequently hung out at her place. One summer in 1965, Sylvia became the object of severe abuse and torture, which some of the neighborhood kids watched or participated in. Sylvia Likens died on October 26th, 1965, from her injuries. In May of 1966, Gertrude went to trial, pleading innocent of all charges, denying any knowledge and participation in her death. She was found guilty of first-degree murder, originally sentenced to life in prison without parole. On an appeal, there was a second trial, she was sentenced 18 years to life in prison. She spent her incarceration at the Womens State Correctional Center in Indiana. Gertrude was paroled on December 4th, 1985, after 19 years of Imprisonment. She changed her name to Nadine Van Fossan, using her maiden name as her last name, and moved to Iowa. She lived out her last days in Obscurity, almost as a recluse. She died 5 years after her release, at the age of 61, from lung cancer. 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Hugh Marcus Van Fossan (1889 - 1939)
  Molly Myrtle Oakley Van Fossan (1896 - 1984)
 
 Spouse:
  John Stephan Blake (1926 - 2007)*
 
 Children:
  John Stephan Blake (1953 - 2005)*
  Denny Lee White (1964 - 2012)*
 
 Siblings:
  Gertrude Nadine Van Fossan Baniszewski (1928 - 1990)
  Gerald Franklin Van Fossan (1932 - 1997)*
  John O Van Fossan (1937 - 1989)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Note: Sylvia's Sister Jenny passed away in 2004, at the age of 54.
 
Burial:
Graceland Cemetery
Laurel
Marshall County
Iowa, USA
 
Created by: Bonnie Fortney- Wichita,...
Record added: Oct 29, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 22543954
Gertrude Nadine <i>Van Fossan</i> Baniszewski
Added by: Mark
 
Gertrude Nadine <i>Van Fossan</i> Baniszewski
Added by: Bonnie Fortney- Wichita, Kansas
 
Gertrude Nadine <i>Van Fossan</i> Baniszewski
Added by: Sylvia
 
 
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