On a slow Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 1988, I got a tip from the police watch commander that if I was interested in “bodies,” I ought to take a short drive to 14th and F streets in downtown Sacramento, just a couple of blocks from our newspaper office. So off I went, and I got there just as they found the leg of the first victim. I’ll never forget the police homicide officer on the scene pointing to the slab of concrete covering the yard of the old Victorian and saying they would start digging the next day. And dig they did, eventually uncovering a total of seven bodies (another victim found along the Sacramento River in 1986 was credited to Puente), beginning the most compelling story I would ever cover. While there were dozens of stories written by Sacramento Union staff writers, these are my stories written as the regular daytime police reporter that unfolded over the historic saga. When this hit, the Union had just gone to a tabloid format, with a graphic front page. Since this story fit that format perfectly, newsstand sales soared as a result.
1426 F Street in March 2014. Notice the creepy mannequin of Dorothea under the stairs. At least the current owners have a sense of humor about it all.
The F Street Boardinghouse Murders
Dorothea Puente Murders/November 1988