Writer: Serial killer Dorothea Puente still manipulating from Chowchilla prison

From Chowchilla's Central California Women's Facility: Serial killer Dorothea Puente is still trying to manipulate people.


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The 80-year-old Puente, who Sacramento police say killed nine people and buried their bodies in the yard of her boarding house, talked with SacTown Magazine senior editor Martin Kuz for a series of interviews stretching over six months. Puente was convicted of killing three of the people in 1993.


"She never explicity gave me a reason for why she decided to talk after so many years of not talking publicly," Kuz said Friday on the Capital Public Radio program "Insight." But he suspects she had motives.


Kuz said that during the course of their talks, Puente asked him to help her order food and beauty-care items through the prison vendor, amounting to about $115.


"I think in the end, perhaps she thought she could manipulate one last person," he said. "I knew, when I did not oblige, that she'd essentially cut off contact, and that's exactly what happened."


Their last conversation was in April.


During their interviews, Kuz learned that prisoners in Chowchilla refer to her as "Miss Dorothea" or "Miss D."


"Time after time, prisoners would walk by and say hello to her or pat her on the shoulder. It's evident they know who she is. Some of that has to do with the notoriety she carried when she came into prison. She has the ability to connect with people, and that's what made her such a diabolical predator."


Kuz said Puente helps other prisoners with suggestions about how to work the prison's social services network and offers legal advice on their court cases.


"She even shares her tamales with her fellow inmates. She makes for, in most respects, a model prisoner," Kuz said.


You can listen to the "Insight" interview here.


Kuz's article appears in the current issue of SacTown Magazine.