University of Indianapolis researchers who are waiting for DNA test results that may identify the decapitated body of serial killer Belle Gunness have decided to exhume the 100-year-old remains of three children in hopes of finding a few more clues about the widow accused of murdering as many as 30 men, women and children, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The children, uncovered in an Illinois cemetery, are believed to have died in a house fire at Gunness’ LaPorte, Ind., farm that put authorities on the trail of the serial killer. After the blaze, police found 11 dismembered bodies buried on the property.
There has been suspicion that Gunness staged her death because her crimes were about to be uncovered, the Tribune reported.
The exhumed bodies are believed to be those of Lucy and Myrtle Sorenson, ages 9 and 11, and Phillip Gunness, 5, all of whom Gunness was raising on her farm.
"We couldn't have asked for anything better than this," forensic anthropologist Stephen Nawrocki told the Tribune of the condition of the bones of the 5-year-old boy. "This is going to come out just beautifully."
The decision to exhume the children’s remains came after the researchers discovered the bones of two juveniles inside the casket believed to contain Gunness’ headless body.
If the three children that Gunness was raising are not missing those bones, it's likely she killed more children than originally believed, the Tribune reported.
"I think the right thing is to try to reassociate those remains," Nawrocki told the Tribune. "I sort of see it as a humanitarian effort to make things right after 100 years."
When the fire first occurred, authorities believed Gunness was an innocent victim; however, after a man showed up insisting his brother had come to the farm to marry Gunness and disappeared, authorities searched the farm. It did not take them long to begin finding dismembered bodies. One of the victims was Gunness’ teenage adopted daughter.
Over the years, suspicion grew that Gunness escaped the fire and faked her death by placing a decapitated body double in the burned building.
The research team meticulously photographed the site and placed all the bones in individual bags to take them back to Indianapolis to be analyzed.