Netflix's latest true-crime docu-series focuses on four harrowing stories of serial killers and con artists and their unsuspecting victims in the Worst Roommate Ever.


Over the course of five episodes, the doc will explore how four supposedly harmless roommates turned into living nightmares, from manipulative swindlers to cold-blooded murderers.

One of the cases revealed in the series is that of Dorothea Puente – an elderly woman who ran a boarding house and was later convicted of murdering several of her lodgers.

But, who exactly was she? And what happened to her?

As the series airs on Netflix, here’s everything you need to know about Dorothea Puente, including details of her sentencing.

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Who is Dorothea Puente from Worst Roommate Ever?

Dorothea Puente is a convicted serial killer who ran a boarding house in California's Sacramento and was found guilty of murdering several boarders before fraudulently cashing their social security cheques.

At the age of 64, Puente – who was born Dorothea Helen Gray – was tried in 1993 for the murders of nine people after police found seven bodies buried in the garden of her home and two more bodies, including that of a former boyfriend, were found in the Sacramento River later on.

Puente, who'd had a troubled upbringing in South California according to the Los Angeles Times, went on to marry three times and already had a chequered legal past as a young woman, having been arrested for buying women's accessories with forged cheques in 1948.

In 1960, she was arrested for owning and operating a brothel, using a bookkeeping firm in Sacramento as a front. She was sentenced to 90 days in Sacramental County Jail and a year later, was committed to DeWitt State Hospital, where doctors diagnosed her as a pathological liar with an unstable personality, as mentioned in Carla Norton's book Disturbed Ground.

Over the years, Puente took on several different names, from Teya Singoalla Neyaarda to Sharon Johansson (after her divorce from second husband Axel Bren Johansson), a change she made to hide her previous delinquent behaviour and reinvent herself as a caring, religious woman. She went onto marry Roberto Jose Puente, however their marriage lasted 16 months, with Dorothea citing domestic abuse as the reason, and she used the surname Puente for over 20 years.

Dorothea Montalvo Puente is brought back to Sacramento from the LA area
Dorothea Montalvo Puente is brought back to Sacramento from the LA area Getty

In the 1970s, Puente ran a boarding house in Sacramento, which had a reputation for taking in recovering alcoholics, the mentally ill, the elderly and drug addicts – however, in 1978, she was charged and convicted of illegally cashing 34 state and federal cheques belonging to her tenants and was given five years' probation as well as a fine of $4,000 in restitution payments. She was later accused by pensioner tenants of drugging and stealing from them, for which she was convicted of three theft charges and sentenced to five years in prison.

In 1988, a social worker began looking into the disappearance of a mentally disabled man and became suspicious of Puente's unlicensed boarding home. Police then investigated and found disturbed soil on the property before discovering the body of 78-year-old tenant Leona Carpenter. They went on to find six other bodies and as police didn't consider Puente a suspect initially, she was allowed to leave the property and fled the property. Puente was arrested in Los Angeles and denied killing the victims, claiming that they all died of natural causes, the Los Angeles Times wrote.

The victims found in Puente's garden ranged from the ages of 51 up to 78, according to the case files for The People v. Dorothea Montalvo Puente. According to those files, she is thought to have killed her victims by drugging them with prescription medications she had been given by doctors and then continuing to collect their government support cheques.

What happened to Dorothea Puente?

While Puente pled not guilty to all nine murders, the jurors found her guilty on three of the murders but could not agree on the other six after deliberating for 24 days. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Puente was serving life-without-parole sentences for the first-degree murders of two people and 15-years-to-life for a second-degree murder conviction before she died at the age of 82 in March 2011 at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla.

Worst Roommate Ever is available to stream on Netflix now. Read our guide to the best series on Netflix. For something else, visit our TV Guide our check out dedicated Documentaries hub.


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