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Remembering Sylvia Likens

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posted on Jul, 10 2009 @ 07:22 PM
I need to share some of my confused and heart broken feelings for a moment if you please listen. Do any of you remember the story back in 1965 in that faithful day of October 26 in Indianapolis? I will type the story and what happened and then I will post a couple sites on youtube that I would love you to see after you read the history of that terrible three month ordeal that poor girl went thru. Here is the story:

Sylvia Likens
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Sylvia Marie Likens

Born January 3, 1949(1949-01-03)
Lebanon, Indiana, USA
Died October 26, 1965 (aged 16)
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Sylvia Marie Likens (January 3, 1949 - October 26, 1965) was an American murder victim from Indiana. She was tortured to death by Gertrude Baniszewski (née Van Fossan), Gertrude's children, and other young people from their neighborhood. Her parents, carnival workers, had left Likens and her sister Jenny in the care of the Baniszewski family three months before her death in exchange for twenty dollars a week. Baniszewski, two of her children, Paula and John, and two neighbor youths, Coy Hubbard and Richard Hobbs, were charged and convicted of the crime. Her torture and murder were described by the prosecutor in Baniszewski's trial as "the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana."[1]

posted on Jul, 10 2009 @ 07:30 PM

Sylvia Likens was the third child of carnival workers Betty and Lester Likens. Her birth came between two sets of fraternal twins, Diana and Daniel (two years older), and Jenny and Benny (one year younger). The marriage of the Likens was unstable and the family moved many times. Sylvia was often boarded out or forced to live with relatives while her parents were working.[2]

Sylvia made a little cash through odd jobs. She baby-sat and did ironing (coincidentally, the same jobs Gertrude Baniszewski held). Also like most in her age group, Sylvia enjoyed music. Her favorite rock group was, unsurprisingly in that era, The Beatles. She also enjoyed singing herself. During her early time with the Baniszewski family, she would sing to Stephanie Baniszewski, who returned the favor. Sylvia's favorite tune had a lyric about "a thousand stars in the sky."[3]

In her sixteen years of life, Sylvia had known no fewer than fourteen addresses because the family moved so frequently. In the past, she had been left at a grandmother's house or boarded out when Lester and Betty did not find it feasible to take Sylvia and Jenny along with them.

In 1965, Sylvia and her sister Jenny, who was disabled from polio,[4] were living with their mother in Indianapolis when the elder woman was arrested and jailed for shoplifting. Lester Likens, who had recently separated from his wife, arranged for his daughters to board with Gertrude Baniszewski, the mother of Paula, a girl with whom the Likens girls had become acquainted. Although Gertrude and her seven children were poor, Lester Likens, as he reported in the trial, "didn't pry" into the condition of the house, and encouraged Baniszewski to "straighten his daughters out".[5] He agreed to pay her twenty dollars a week.

posted on Jul, 10 2009 @ 07:31 PM
Abuse and death

Baniszewski, described by the Indianapolis Star as a "haggard, underweight asthmatic"[5] suffering from depression and the stress of several failed marriages, began taking her anger out on the Likens girls, beating them with paddles after payments from their parents failed to arrive on time.

Soon, Baniszewski focused her abuse on Sylvia. Baniszewski accused her of stealing candy she had bought from a grocery store and humiliated her when she admitted that she had once had a boyfriend. She kicked Likens in the genitals and accused her of being pregnant. Paula Baniszewski, who was in fact pregnant at the time, became enraged and knocked Likens onto the floor. Likens became convinced that she was pregnant, although medical examination proved that she was not and could not have been.[6]

Likens was then falsely accused of spreading rumors through Arsenal Technical High School of Stephanie and Paula being prostitutes. That supposedly prompted Stephanie's boyfriend, Coy Hubbard, to physically attack Likens. Mrs. Baniszewski encouraged Hubbard and other neighborhood children to torment Likens, including, among other things, putting cigarettes out on her skin and forcing her to remove her clothes and insert a Coke bottle into her vagina.[5]

After beating Sylvia to get her to admit to stealing from school a gym suit Baniszewski would not buy for her, and without which she was unable to attend gym class, Baniszewski kept her out of school and did not allow her to leave the house. When Likens urinated in her bed, she was locked in the cellar and forbidden to use the toilet. Later, she was forced to consume feces and urine. Baniszewski began to carve the words "I'm a prostitute and proud of it!" into Sylvia's stomach with a heated needle, although Richard Hobbs finished the carving when Baniszewski was unable to. Hobbs, with the help of 10 year old Shirley Baniszewski, also used a heated eyebolt to burn the number "3" into Sylvia's chest. [5]

Likens attempted to escape a few days before her death after overhearing Baniszewski's plan to have her dumped in a wooded area nearby, but was caught by Baniszewski as she reached the front door. As punishment, she was tied in the basement and given only crackers to eat. On October 26, 1965, after multiple beatings, she died of brain hemorrhage, shock, and malnutrition.[5]

As Stephanie Baniszewski and Richard Hobbs realized that Sylvia was not breathing, Stephanie attempted to give Sylvia mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before realizing it was a lost cause.

posted on Jul, 10 2009 @ 07:32 PM
Gertrude Baniszewski

Baniszewski sent Richard Hobbs to call the police from a nearby payphone. When they arrived, she handed them a letter she had forced Sylvia to write a few days previously, addressed to her parents. This letter stated that she had agreed to have sex with a group of boys in exchange for money, they dragged her away in their car, beat her up, burned her multiple times, and carved the inscription into her skin.[5] Before the police left, however, Jenny Likens approached them, saying: "Get me out of here and I'll tell you everything."[8]

During the highly-publicized trial, Baniszewski denied responsibility for the death, pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. She claimed that she was too distracted by her ill health and depression to control her children. Attorneys for the young people on trial (Paula and John Baniszewski, Richard Hobbs, and Coy Hubbard) claimed that they had been pressured by Baniszewski. When Marie Baniszewski, Gertrude's eleven-year-old daughter, was called to the stand as a witness for the defense, she broke down and admitted that she had been forced to heat the needle with which Hobbs carved Sylvia Likens' skin and that she had seen her mother beating and forcing Sylvia into the basement. In his closing statement, Baniszewski's lawyer said: "I condemn her for being a murderess... but I say she's not responsible because she's not all here!" and tapped his head.[9]

On May 19, 1966, Gertrude Baniszewski was convicted of first-degree murder, but was spared the death penalty and sentenced to life in prison. Her daughter Paula, who had given birth to a daughter named Gertrude during the trial, was convicted of second-degree murder and also given a life term. Richard Hobbs, Coy Hubbard, and John Baniszewski were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 2-to-21-year terms.[5]

The boys would spend two years in prison. In 1971, Paula and Gertrude Baniszewski were granted another trial. Paula pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was released two years later.[5] Gertrude Baniszewski, however, was again convicted of first-degree murder. She came up for parole in 1985, and despite a public outcry and petitions against her release, the parole board took her good behavior in prison into account, and she was set free.

Gertrude Baniszewski changed her name to Nadine van Fossan and moved to Iowa, where she died of lung cancer on June 16, 1990. When Jenny Likens, who was then married and living in Beech Grove, Indiana, saw her obituary in the newspaper, she clipped it out and mailed it to her mother with the note: "Some good news. Damn old Gertrude died. Ha ha ha! I am happy about that."[10] Jenny Likens Wade died of a heart attack on June 23, 2004 at the age of 54. The house at 3850 East New York Street that Sylvia Likens was tortured and murdered in stood vacant and run-down for much of the 44 years since the murder, and was finally demolished on April 23, 2009.[11] It is planned for the property to become a church parking lot.[12]

After the Jonesboro school massacre, John Baniszewski, now known as John Blake, gave a statement claiming that young criminals were not beyond help and describing how he had managed to turn his life around.[13]

posted on Jul, 10 2009 @ 07:44 PM
I retrieved the story here:
You can also check the Indianapolis Police Department and they can give you transcripts of what took place in court.

Now I have a couple videos I would like for you to see. The first one is this video and it is on youtube. It is the photos of the house and Gertrudes children and neighbors that took part of the torture of poor Sylvia (film is called "Sylvia Marie Likens - a life, a case, a legacy in pictures" and it is 4 mins and 51 secs long so please watch it):

The second video is an actual video of someone going through the house and even the basement where most of the tortures, starvation, and eventual death took place (film is called "Sylvia Likens (an american crime) ONLY VIDEO OF THE INSIDE OF THE HOUSE" and it is 6 mins and 49 secs long so please watch this as well):

posted on Jul, 10 2009 @ 07:47 PM
the wikipedia site that I gave has a portrait of Sylvia Likens of what she looked like. The first video I gave may have a couple scenes that may be disturbing so be cautious when viewing it. The second video like I said earlier is what the house where the torture took place. It is abandoned and as of April of this year, the city torn down the house. This video was taken in October of 2008 so it was made (and we get to see the inside of the house) before the demolition took place.

posted on Jul, 10 2009 @ 07:55 PM
The reason for me as to sharing this is because I don't want to feel alone in my battle from within as to why God would allow a precious little girl to endure hell so long (three months) and why Gertrude and her kids as well as the neighbors turn on her and treat her less than an animal. I remember reading also that Gertrude would make Sylvia eat out of a diaper of Gertrudes youngest child (she was an infant). There were a number of neighbors who witness the crime but nobody did a darn thing about it. Sylvia and Stephanie were good friends and that is how she got to know the family. Her and Stephanie would sing to the lyrics of "a thousand stars in the sky". I bet as Sylvia lay in her bed in the last hours of her life, she would look up into Stephanies face as Stephanie sees the swollen and hard to recognize Sylvia and see her singing to the lyrics of the same song they both sang before the tragedy started to take place.
I am in tears and I am forever a changed person. I can't even think straight sometimes and I feel I am so lost and hurt from a tragic event that took place over 44 years ago. Thank you guys for reading this story and viewing the clips I posted. Now I feel I am not alone in this and maybe I can talk to somebody that may be more together than I am after seeing these things take place to poor Sylvia.

posted on Jul, 11 2009 @ 07:09 PM
God bless you Sylvia. Your cries at night were heard and you are home now.

*cries to himself*


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