John Baniszewski Sr. was a sheriff living a simple life until his ex-wife committed a heinous act. As a result, the spotlight was shone on him. He is the ex-husband of Gertrude Baniszewski, the woman behind the chilling torture and resulting death of Sylvia Likens in 1965. Sylvia and her sister Jenny were left in her care when her parents went on a carnivore, agreeing that Gertrude would receive a $ 20 fee per week for the care given. Unfortunately, Gertrude Baniszewski, her children and several neighborhood friends turned against the girls.
Keep reading to learn about what transpired and the resulting conviction.
John Baniszewski Sr. Bio
John Baniszewski Sr. was born in Youngsville, Pennsylvania, in 1926 and died in 2007. He was of Polish descent. Details of his early life are unknown. When he was 18, he married Gertrude Baniszewsk in 1945 and had four children with her. John had a volatile temper and would occasionally beat his wife. The two remained married for ten years before their first divorce in 1955.
Gertrude went and married another man but divorced three months later. A few weeks later, she and John Baniszewski remarried and had two more children. They divorced for the second time in 1963. John Baniszewski would later take custody of his children after his ex-wife was convicted of the murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens. Details of where he lived after that are not available.
John Baniszewski Sr. Children
John had six children with his ex-wife Gertrude Baniszewski. They were Stephanie Baniszewski , John Baniszewski Jr, Paula Baniszewski,Marie Baniszewski, James Baniszewski, and Shirley Baniszewski. Paula was her mother’s accomplice and was charged with second-degree murder for the death of Sylvia Likens. Paula served seven years in prison. She would later change her name to Paula Pace and worked for a school system in Iowa under force pretense. She got fired in 2012 when an anonymous person revealed her real identity.
John was also active in Sylvia’s torture and served two years in prison. He later changed his name to John Blake and became a lay minister and real estate agent. He died of cancer in 2005.
Stephanie works as a teacher and lives in Florida. All charges against her were dropped probably because she chose to testify against her family. Marie, Shirley, and James were not charged.
John Baniszewski Sr. Ex-Wife
After agreeing to take care of Sylvia and Jenny Likens, she started torturing the girls when the agreed $20 weekly fee was delayed. She later focused her hate on Sylvia and forced her sister Jenny to watch and participate. She also allowed her children and neighborhood kids to watch and join in. No one reported what happened. Upon her death, Sylvia had suffered emaciation, her corpse covered with over 150 wounds resulting from burns, cuts, and more.
Gertrude was convicted of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison. She was paroled in 1985 and moved to Iowa, where she changed her name to Nadine Van Fossan. She died of cancer in June 1990 without taking responsibility for her crimes.
The torture and murder of Sylvia Likens remain one of the most chilling crimes of all time, and, sadly, the people behind it went free after serving at most 20 years of jail time.