Woman who buried tenants in yard dies in prison

Landlady Dorothea Puente gestures as the verdict of guilty on two counts of first degree murder and one count of second degree murder is read against her in a coutroom in Monterey, Calif., Thursday afternoon, Aug. 26,1993. The jury deliberated for a record 24 days in the serial murders of nine of her tenants. The jury deadlocked on six counts of murder.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

March 27, 2011 4:43:43 PM PDT
A California woman who was convicted of killing her elderly tenants and burying them in her backyard has died in prison.

State Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton says 82-year-old Dorothea Puente died at around 10:15 a.m. Sunday of natural causes at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla.

Authorities say Puente drugged her elderly tenants and stole their money. She escaped to Los Angeles while investigators were unearthing bodies at her Sacramento home in 1988, but was caught a few days later. Authorities would eventually find seven bodies buried at the home.

Puente was convicted in 1993 of three murders -- the jury did not reach verdicts on six other murder counts. She was given two life sentences and a concurrent 15-year-to-life sentence.