SACRAMENTO — Police were searching in Las Vegas today for the white-haired manager of a Sacramento boarding house that has yielded seven bodies buried in shallow graves under its lush landscaping.
Police Sgt. Bob Burns, fending off criticism over a police decision to allow the manager to walk away from the scene Saturday, said authorities received word that Dorothea Montalvo Puente, 59, may have joined a relative in Las Vegas.
He said that Las Vegas police were investigating the whereabouts of Montalvo and that the U.S. Border Patrol has been alerted, although "we don't have any evidence right now that she fled to Mexico."
Puente is suspected of killing her boarders for their Social Security, disability or welfare checks. (Story, Page 3.)
According to sworn statements that police filed to obtain the warrant, Puente twice denied killing her missing tenants, saying, "I have never killed anybody."
The affidavits said, however, that one of her tenants, John Sharp, handed a detective a note that said, "She's making me lie."
Sharp later told police that one resident disappeared after he had caused a drunken ruckus and that "Dorothea told him that she would take him upstairs and make him better."
About four days later, police said, Sharp "smelled a very strong odor of what he thought was death in the kitchen area." Puente told him the stench was caused by faulty sewers.