Murder, Mystery & Makeup - Gertrude Baniszewski - The Worst Lady I've Heard Of

hi guys how are you today my name is bailey

syrian and today is monday

which means it’s murder mystery and makeup monday

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syrian and every

monday i sit down and talk about true crime

story that’s been heavy on my

noggin and i do my makeup

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this story has been

recommended to me so many times to the

point i was like okay you guys win

i didn’t wanna do it but you guys kept asking

i didn’t know what to do i caved i gave in

alright gertrude van

fawson have you heard of her

gertrude okay

she was born september 19th 1925

no i’m sorry 1929 and she was the

third of six children

she was born in indiana and honestly not much is known

about her childhood

except that her family was like working class

she loved her her father

and it’s said that she was indifferent towards her

mother and then at age age

eleven she actually witnessed

her dad dying

he had a massive heart attack and

attack and died this is a personal opinion

i believe that she had to have a fucked up

childhood for the things that she does

later on in this

story there’s no way that she had a

quote unquote like pretty normal

childhood no there’s no way i nope just

throwing that out there

so at age 16

gertrude she

dropped out of high

school and she married

a man named john banasuski

so he was actually two years

older than her and he was from pennsylvania and then he

would become a

later on a police officer

and the two of them john and gertrude

ended up having four children

paula stephanie

john and marie

sadly though the home was pretty damn toxic

john was pretty abusive

towards gertrude and he would like take his

anger out on her he

would beat her pretty

often in front of

the children and then

after ten years of

marriage gertrude finally

took the kids

and she was able

to to leave to get out

and then gertrude

quickly got married

again to another man and his name was edward

has anyone noticed there’s always a lot of

edwards in these stories

anyways so she’s so

she married this

edward guy that

marriage only lasted

three months

so okay so when she got a divorce from this

edward guy gertrude actually goes back to her

first husband john

and she remarries him

when they got remarried

gertrude and john had two more children together

shirley and james

and then they got divorced for the

second time not long

after gertrude

started dating another man

and his name was dennis lee

right and dennis was 22 years old

gertrude was like yeah getting it and then

unfortunately gertrude got pregnant by this 22 year old

and shortly

after that not shortly

nine months

nine months

after that she gave

birth to the

child and as soon as she gave birth

dennis he was like

peace out bye

so then she filed

a paternity

suit and requested that dennis

help pay for this

child and you know that

never goes well

for some fucking reason

the court sided

with gertrude but dennis

never paid anything nothing

changed so by the

age of 37 gertrude was a single

mother of seven

children she had been divorced

three times yeah

so it’s just she’s not feeling

too good i guess

about herself and

where she’s at

in life gertrude was five foot six and she only weighed

about 100 pounds

and she smoked constantly and she had really bad asthma

and she heavily

relied on child support

from john to pay her

bills and take care of her children

so now we move on to somebody else who is

like a different person

story but they’re

still involved her name is

sylvia lichens and she was born january 3rd 1949

her parents

they worked in a carnival

actually they were considered more

like lower class they

were kind of struggling to pay the bills and whatnot

the lichens family had five children so they had daniel

diana they were fraternal twins

sylvia and jenny

and then benny

so jenny and benny

fraternal twins and then

sylvia was like the only one who wasn’t a twin jenny

who is sylvia’s

younger sister she

had polio she had gotten polio as a

child and she suffered a limp

so she had to wear like a leg brent brace and

sylvia was really overprotective of her younger

sister so as a

teenager sylvia

would also just kind of work odd jobs

ones that you can as a

teenager like babysitting

and then she

would give that

money to her

parents just to kind of help them out so on july 3rd

sylvia’s mom was

arrested because she was caught shoplifting and they

ended up putting her in jail this

caused some stress to the

lichens family

it was just mainly

cause they couldn’t work like

they needed the money

why did she do that

when she went to prison it just put

their dad in a really hard spot

he couldn’t really take care of all the kids

so their father

tried to find

boarding for the two girls so that they

could return to the carnival

circuit and continue making

money so the

oldest lichen

daughter was

married so she

wasn’t able

to go on the carnival circuit with them and help out

she just was living her own life and then they had

to boys who

would also join them or

their dad to make

extra money on the carnival circuit

dad didn’t think that the carnival

would be saved for the youngest

daughters and he wanted them to stay in

indiana and not go with them so that’s

why he was looking for somewhere for them to stay

okay so while in

school sylvia

meets gertrude’s

daughter stephanie

and they meet in high

school and they kind of become just friends

she invited

sylvia over for like a

sleepover when

sylvia’s dad

would go to pick up

sylvia from the

house he began to

speak with stephanie’s mom

gertrude he was talking to her

about you know they’re trying to find somewhere that

sylvia can go just like venting to her i

guess gertrude was like hey why doesn’t

sylvia just stay here

and just pay me 20

a week and honestly it

sounded great

for sylvia’s dad i mean

sylvia wouldn’t have to change

schools and she would

be with people that she’s familiar with so it just

sounded like a really good idea

and also it seemed like gertrude had a little bit of a

crush on sylvia’s dad

and was just

kind of saying that to please him or something

that’s just an observation i have no idea so both

sylvia and her

sister jenny

would be staying with gertrude and her

tribe of children

at first everything was

going great i mean

sylvia and jenny helped with the house

hold chores and they were

treated fairly

in the house

they would even

attend sunday

school service

but as time went on

things just kind of

started going

south because

because sylvia’s father

the twenty dollars a week remember

that they agreed on it just like wasn’t showing up the

twenty dollars and this was kind of pissing gertrude

off like hey i’m

watching your kids

you promised

twenty dollars a week

and it’s not happening

so this is just making gertrude more and more

angry because like

where’s her

twenty dollars

bitch she then

started to just take her

anger out on

the kids so in one of the first

disciplinary actions gertrude

beat the lichen

sisters with a

quarter inch paddle saying

quote well i took care of you

two little bitches

for a week for nothing end

quote and then there was another occasion

where the two

sisters got beat

or at least hit 15 times it said

by the paddle for eating too much at church dinner

so this gertrude lady’s a real bitch

for some strange reason most of the anchor kind of

or the abuse

centered on

sylvia paula

the oldest of gertrude’s children

was jealous

of sylvia’s appearance

she thought

sylvia was really good looking and really pretty

and like why wasn’t she pretty

so she would also pick on

sylvia as well

so not only

is sylvia getting beat by this

awful gertrude

lady kids are also being really mean to her as well

so one day sylvia had come home from

school and she was talking

to her sister

about how she had a boyfriend at

school and this made the

oldest child

annoyed or angry so

she decided to kick her in the

lower region

and accused her of being pregnant

and on another occasion gertrude

would beat sylvia for stealing

candy when in reality

she purchased it

but most of all gertrude

would deny sylvia food

sylvia would be left to like

eat out of the garbage cans

so sylvia decided to collect the recycling items

inside the house but also just like out in

different garbage can areas

so that she can turn it in and get

money for it

of course gertrude

caught her doing that and then

punished her

pretty heavily

for that on another occasion

sylvia was forced

free a hot dog

covered with like a

bunch of condiments

and when she

threw the hot dog back up she was made

to then eat it

again sylvia was

falsely accused of

spreading rumors

about the two oldest kids

holla and stephanie at

school i don’t know but like why

this was happening

i guess like

stephanie or even paula

would like come home

and then tell gertrude oh yeah this is what

sylvia did today

uh huh like i just don’t

understand that the two kids were like oh yeah

sylvia’s talking

about how were

sluts and when gertrude finds this out she was livid

so stephanie

tells her boyfriend his name is coy

and she tells him like oh yeah

so sylvia called me a prostitute

so then her boyfriend stephanie’s boyfriend coy

then went and beat up sylvia

more people are in on this

stephanie and paula the oldest kids they

would actually take turns

with gertrude attacking

sylvia like it just

absolutely makes no

sense what kind of fucked up

sorry so like one time paula beat

sylvia to the

point that she

broke her own wrist

and then once paula

got her cast on from

breaking her wrist

she then used that cast

to beat the shit out of

sylvia some more

but this time with the cast

what the hell

kind of sick this was just like a continuing

cycle like it just didn’t seem like it was gonna stop

anytime soon the

older sisters as well as

their friends

would tell their

classmates that

sylvia was spreading

nasty rumors

about them and

their families and i

think in order to deflect any of some

sylvia’s claims

about the abuse

i’m not even sure anymore because then they

wouldn’t fight

classmates over

they would invite friends over and just

beat up or even sexually

abuse sylvia

they even said it was

sylvia’s best friend

her name was anna at

school they told

anna that sylvia had been talking crap

behind her back

so then they invited

anna to come over to the

house and beat up sylvia

while the family

watched when i was reading this i seriously

didn’t think this was real

but it’s real

the kids would just invite

their friends over they

would practice karate

on sophia they

would kick her they

would beat her poor

sylvia her skin was covered in

cigarette burns because they

would put cigarettes out on her skin

yeah sylvia was made to

strip down in

front of the family and the neighborhood kids

and they inserted

things into her

lower area just

sexually abusing her and it’s so

awful eventually

gertrude forbid

sylvia from

going to school

after sylvia

admitted that she stole a

tracksuit from

school and she

stole it because she needed it for

school and gertrude refused to buy it for her so she

ended up stealing it gertrude

found it and then just beat the crap out of her like

this girl this poor girl

so sylvia and jenny

were terrified to tell anybody

about what was

going on at the

house they thought that it

would only make the abuse

worse and gertrude told them if you tell anybody i’m

gonna kill you

they believed this so they didn’t want to say anything

so the kids

ended up telling nobody what was

going on which

i know as people you and i sitting here

listening to this

it’s like it’s so

hard to believe that they didn’t tell anybody like why

wouldn’t you tell anybody

but we also don’t know

their thought process

we weren’t experiencing what they were experiencing

so the lichens family they

would come back and they would

visit from time to time

they didn’t notice anything weird

about the kids

which is so

strange to me but they didn’t during the time of them

visiting nothing

would happen

the girls wouldn’t tell the family and

they didn’t suspect that anything was happening as well

which is strange me

cause i feel like you

would see the scars and what not but they didn’t

so sylvia and

jenny would go to like a local park

and it was at this

local park that they ran into

their oldest

sister and her name was

diana and she was there

and sylvia told her

sister that she was hungry

and diana was like oh

here have like this sandwich

gives her a sandwich and then one of the

other children

from gertrude’s family saw her told gertrude

and of course

poor sylvia was punished

so they choked her they beat her

they threw her into

scalding hot water to

cleanse her of her sins

so sylvia on occasion

would like pass out or

faint from the pain

and gertrude this

would make gertrude mad so then she

would end up just like

bashing her head

against the wall to wake her up

you guys what the fuck

when they ran into

diana again weeks

later they told her

about the abuse that was happening

but their sister

diana she didn’t believe it and she didn’t say anything

i don’t know

what the sam hell is

going on over there

i don’t know why she didn’t believe her but she didn’t

so a local father had

phoned the high

school to tell

them that there was this girl with sores all over

her body at gertrude’s

household so a

nurse was sent to investigate to see if there’s any

child abuse

going on hallelujah

somebody said something

thank god well

gertrude told a

nurse that sylvia had run away for a week

and that the sores were from her poor personal hygiene

skills gertrude

would then go on

to say that

sylvia was just a rotten

child she was a terrible

influence on the

other children in the

household so she would get

punished on occasion

but it was nothing major

and they left so they made no

other attempts to

contact or investigate more

they just didn’t feel like they needed to

which is like so unbelievable in

october diana

remembered the

older sister

she went to go

visit her sisters at gertrude’s house

and then when she got there she

knocked on the door

and gertrude

answered and

she refused to let her in to see the girls because

the lichens family the mom and the dad

told gertrude

well this is what gertrude

said so i don’t even know if this is true or not but

it was because the

lichens parents told gertrude to not let

jenny or sylvia see

their older

sister diana

due to the abuse and the repeated kicks to

sylvia’s lower region

she began to wet the bed

as punishment she

would be thrown into the basement

there and that’s

where gertrude

would keep her tied up gertrude

would just leave her down there naked

starving and dehydrated

occasionally she

would be tied up to the banister of the basement

stairs down

in the basement area there was no bathroom so

sylvia would just go

standing up

and when this happened it would

piss gertrude

off pretty much

everything sylvia did just piss gertrude

off when sophia would

like wet herself

standing up in the beach

gertrude would get

sylvia’s hands

and feet tie them together

and then she would

throw her into

super hot water

in like the bathtub and give her a bath that way

just to get her

clean again

so this sometimes

would happen

numerous times a day because she

would pee herself a couple of times a day

i mean where else was she posed

she’s supposed to go gertrude

so gertrude

would just keep

sylvia locked up down in the basement

and honestly this

abuse would just continue over and over and over

again there was no end to it

then there’s more of course

so gertrude

would have the neighborhood kids come over

and she would charge them

five cents for them to come over and

abuse sylvia five cents to come into the home

and abuse her the

story is awful

i’m not even sure why none of

these kids coming into the home said anything ever

how long has this been

going on and

nobody said anything i mean that’s like a little

come on nobody said

a word it’s just kind of unbelievable to me they

should all be held accountable

so at this point

sylvia was extremely malnourished

and the other children from gertrude

would torture her by offering her food and then they

would quickly just take it away

never in my life

have i ever wanted food

someone dead more than this

whole family

sorry you’re supposed to forgive people

but sometimes the lord really makes it hard to forgive

really challenging you

so gertrude and her kids plus

their boyfriends

just did some more

awful shit like

one time they etched the words

quote i am a prostitute

and i am proud and

quote onto her

stomach okay

they edge that into

her stomach

and one of the fourteen

year old neighborhood boys his name was like richard

fuck you richard just took

turns etching

this into her stomach

gertrude’s kids thought it’d be a

great idea to

brand sylvia with an s

but instead they made it into a

three are they

stupid yes yep

and then gertrude

would just sexually

abuse sylvia

tease her about not being able to get

married now that she’s

branded and

her body is garbage

at this point this is what gertrude

saying this is why

it’s so hard for me to believe

that gertrude had a normal upbringing

now there isn’t much info

about how gertrude was raised

but she had to

learn this abuse somewhere

you’re not just born with this abuse

you learn it from people

i mean this is all an opinion i’m not a doctor it just

is so strange to me that someone this extreme

is trying to say that like her

childhood was whatever

and you’re probably wondering why i even care

about how gertrude was raised

it just gives you a better

understanding of why they are the way

they are and that’s what really kind of gets my mind

going is like trying to find out why

someone is the way they are

so that’s why i

normally like to give a background

story on people

because it does play a big role

so gertrude

made sylvia

write a letter to her parents

and this letter

would be her saying that she’s running away with a

local group of boys

also gertrude

just wanted to

cover her own ass

because in this letter she made

sylvia write that

she was raped and

her body was mutilated

by these boys that she went

she ran away with

gertrude’s plan was to hand this letter to her parents

when they came by the

house to see

sylvia and jenny what gertrude was really

going to do was take

sylvia to the front

area nearby

and leave her

there to starve to

death she was sick of

sylvia and just wanted to get rid of her

so she made her

write this letter

so the parents

would be like

oh she ran away

stupid i’m so mad

anyway so the letter pretty much just said like

hey i went with a gang of boys in the middle of the

then they beat me up and they

rape me left source on my face and all over my body

and they also put on my stomach i am a prostitute and

proud of it so then on

october 25th

sylvia tried to escape

when she heard

gertrude’s plan to drop her off at the forest and

leave her there

she heard gertrude saying this

so she’s trying to make an escape but

sadly she was

caught before she made it off the property so they

just punished her

again pretty hard

and they beat her

until she blocked out

later that evening

sylvia banged on the walls of the basement and

screamed as loud as she could

in hopes that like the neighbors

would hear her or something and a neighbor

would later testify that she

heard these

noises of like

screaming and

someone yelling for help but that they stopped so

she decided

not to call the police because she assumed like oh

they must have

just been playing or it was handled or something

so the abuse continued but

sylvia was very weak at this

point she had

tried to crawl up the stairs

get out but

couldn’t make it instead gertrude was at the top of the

staircase and pretty much beat her

back down to the base

gertrude hit

sylvia’s head really hard at this time

sylvia stopped breathing

in an effort to

clean her up one of the kids

tried to give her a warm

like soapy bath

and that’s when she realized that

sylvia was indeed dead

so she tried to give her

mouth to mouth

gertrude was certain that sophia

was just faking it

and she just told her to like just let her

go like she’s

just faking it

and then she realized

that sylvia was indeed dead

gertrude told

like stephanie’s boyfriend

he needed to go call the police

but from like a

local pay phone

so he leaves the

house and he goes

and calls the police

so police do arrive and gertrude told them that

sylvia ran away and this is how she returned

and that when she

found her she was tending to her all day trying to

clean her up and get her better

jenny who is

sylvia’s sister

now mind you this is a side note

jenny really

wasn’t even getting abused at all it was just towards

sylvia anywho but

jenny was able

to talk to one of the police officers on the scene

and she said or she’d like

whispered into one of the police officer’s

ears get me out of here and i’ll tell you everything

police were able to get

jenny out of there and talk to her and she explained

everything that had been

going on inside that

house and based on

jenny’s testimony

police then were able to arrest gertrude

three of her kids plus

two of the boyfriends


five neighborhood children

were arrested and

charged with causing injury to a person

they were released to

their parents but

all had to appear in

court and give a

statement which is

horseshit if you ask me

so gertrude

initially refused any involvement

she only admitted that she

had made sylvia

sleep in the basement

when she was wetting the bed

because she just didn’t want to ruin her mattress

gertrude would

become like really agitated when police officers

would question

her further asking more questions as to what happened

they pretty much were telling gertrude

that sylvia’s body and like her internal damage it just

doesn’t line up with her story

so the autopsy revealed that

sylvia had over

150 wounds on her body

she was incredibly thin and malnourished

there were burns cuts bruises and severe muscle damage

all of her fingernails had been

bent backwards and she was missing the top

layer of skin

on her face neck

chest and knee

the official

cause of death

blunt force

trauma to the head

so gertrude paula

which was gertrude’s

daughter and then john the son they were

going to be

tried for first degree murder

and one of the kids her name was stephanie

do you remember stephanie

her charges were

dropped due to insufficient

evidence but she did

agree to testify

against her family at

trial richard

hobbs and coy

hubbard they were

charged with premeditated

malice they were like the boyfriend slash

neighbor kid gertrude’s

defense was that she was not responsible for the kids

because the

other children

were responsible for the children

because she was too

depressed to be able to take control of the household

so the kids were to

blame not her she was just depressed

fuck off the

trial and decision

of the jury lasted 17

days and gertrude was convicted of

first degree murder think

god richard

coy and john

were all convicted

of manslaughter

gertrude and paula

they were giving life sentences

during a retrial

hers was changed to voluntary manslaughter

and her sentence was reduced to

two to 21 years

she would only

serve three years in prison

and then she was let out coy and john

they were sentenced to 18

months at a juvenile

detention facility

richard would have a mental break

the weight of the

crimes hit him and then he

began smoking

really heavily and he died of lung cancer at 21

i’m laughing because

he must have

been smoking a lot to die of lung cancer at 21

good bye i know you’re supposed to

forgive but they’re making it really difficult anyways

so coy was in and out

of prison all of his life he died at 56 years of age

of a heart attack and during the retrial for gertrude

she was still convicted of

first degree murder but her sentence was

changed to 18 to life in prison she was a

model prisoner she worked in the sewing room and the

other inmates called her mom

and then guess what

her parole came up in 1985 and she

changed her name to nadine

van fawson this

upset a lot of people

they made a petition

to keep her in prison

and it had about 4

500 signatures but

guess what she was still

granted parole

she moved to goddamn iowa

where she lived for five years

until she died of lung cancer in

1990 paula she also

moved to iowa

after her release

and like back

close to her mom

she changed her name and get this she became a teacher

here’s an idea idea

alert people who have done terrible things

i don’t think you

should be allowed to change your name

right anyways

paula was a

teacher for a

minute then

the school district

they did discover her past now she was arrested

and all that and they did fire her

but the fact that she got through and was even a

teacher for a

small amount of time

is not okay so john

he changed his name to john

blake he worked several jobs

and get this

he became a minister

he said that

he took full responsibility for what he did and

he should have been handed a harder sentence

that’s what he said

of course he’s saying that because he’s out of prison

if he were in prison he’d be asking for forgiveness

but now that he’s out he’s like yeah i

should have gotten a harder sentence i

learned my lesson

jenny she went on to

marry a man and have some children

and jenny is sylvia’s

sister remember

so jenny never blamed her parents for the

abuse that her and her

sister endured

she said that they

were just trying

to make ends mean they did the best that they

could at the time good for her

she’s able to like move forward i don’t know

trying to see

some kind of positive here okay so in two thousand one

a memorial for

sylvia was erected

in indianapolis

and there was actually a

movie made it was called an american

crime and it was

about the whole

story i tried to

watch it last

night it had a lot of well

known actors in it and

stuff but i just

couldn’t do it it was too much

research in this

story was just not okay

so that is the

awful story

about this gertrude

devil woman

i shouldn’t hate anybody but

lord do i hate this

woman and her

whole family i’m

sorry but they

should all be in prison

none of them

should have been able to change her name

the story was just really

upsetting i’m sure it’s

upsetting to you as well there’s a lot more details

about the abuse that poor

sylvia had endured

it’s just like it’s a fucking lot

thank you so much for hanging out with me

today i’m sorry if i seem a little down

but this story is

definitely a downer

and rest in

peace to poor

sylvia who had to go through all that

for no damn reason i hope that you have a wonderful day

today you make good choices

please be safe out there

please please please be safe out there

and i’ll be seeing you guys later bye

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