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(Weekend Archive Episode originally aired May 11, 2018)
Gertrude Baniszewski (1929–1990), also known as Gertrude Wright and The Torture Mother, was an Indiana divorcee who oversaw and facilitated the prolonged torture, mutilation, and eventual murder of Sylvia Likens, a teenage girl she had taken into her home. The case is unique in that, while Baniszewski did play an active role in Likens’ death, the majority of the torture that eventually brought about Likens’ demise was carried out by Baniszewski’s teenage children and other neighborhood children. Although Baniszewski did instruct the children on several occasions, it was later discovered that they took a large degree of Likens’ torture into their own hands, in what would later be called a Lord of the Flies scenario come to life. When she was convicted of first degree murder in 1965, the case was called “the single worst crime perpetuated against an individual in Indiana’s history”.
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