A landlady suspected in the deaths of seven tenants whose bodies were unearthed in the yard of her boardinghouse was returned here Thursday, hours after her arrest in a Los Angeles motel room.
Dorothea Montalvo Puente, 59, accompanied by Sacramento detectives, arrived in handcuffs at Executive Airport and was taken to the Police Department for questioning. She ignored reporters' questions as she crossed the tarmac."I have not killed anyone. I told you that. I have not killed anyone. The checks I cashed, yes," she told KCRA-TV before landing in Sacramento.
It was not immediately known when she would be arraigned.
Puente was taken into custody after a five-day hunt Wednesday night by police who tracked her on a tip provided to a TV station.
"She was real cool, real calm. It looked like she almost expected it," said Officer Paul Von Lutzow.
Police believe Puente killed tenants of her Sacramento boarding house for their Social Security benefits. They have a list of two dozen people who are missing and who might have lived at the eight-bedroom house at one time or another.
Police tracked her to the Royal Viking Motel on the basis of a tip provided to CBS by a disabled pensioner who met her in a bar and took a liking to her, said CBS assignment editor Gene Silver.
Von Lutzow, who said the woman identified herself using an alias, Donna Johansen, told The Associated Press that the man who alerted the news media had made a date to go shopping with her Thursday.
"During a lengthy conversation, she told him she was from the San Francisco area and he put two-and-two together and called," Von Lutzow said.
"He wanted me to wait until the next day because he had a date with her," Von Lutzow said.
The man, Charles Willgues, 67, of Los Angeles, said today in an interview that he became suspicious after Puente quizzed him about his Social Security benefits.
"She seemed so nice and sincere. She really was very believable," Willgues said, adding that she also had suggested that they live together.
"I kept looking at the woman. Something just didn't seem right. I felt like I had seen her before," he added, explaining why he called the TV station.
The white-haired Puente, clad in a red jacket and pink house dress, bowed her head as officers walked her to a patrol car. She declined to answer any reporters' questions, but appeared somewhat dazed.
Puente, who has a criminal record dating back to a 1948 conviction for forging checks, has been charged only with the murder of Alvaro Montoya, 52, a mentally disabled transient who lived in the house. His disappearance caused Volunteers of America counselor Judy Moise to contact police, leading to the diggings.