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  Sylvia Likens
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   Author  Topic: Sylvia Likens  (Read 3985 times)
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Sylvia Likens
« on: October 15, 2009, 03:05:37 pm »
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Sylvia Likens was born on January 3, 1949 in Lebanon, Indiana.

When Sylvia was sixteen years old her father arranged for the young girl and her fifteen year old sister Jenny to stay with Gertrude Baniszewski.  Mr Likens would send Gertrude $20 a week for keeping the girls.

After their second week with the Baniszewski family (consisting of seven children) the two girls received heir first punishment, both girls had to lie across a bed and expose their bare buttocks so Baniszewski could spank them with a paddle.  The $20 arrived the day after their punishment.

While with their own family, the Likens girls would collect empty soda bottles and recycle them for money.  The week following their first punishment, Gertrude accused Sylvia of stealing and gave the young girl another paddling. 

Sylvia was at the receiving end of three recurring accusations. One of them was that she was dishonest, another was that she was physically unclean, and the third, was that she was sexually promiscuous.

During one Church supper Paula (Gertrude’s eldest daughter [17 years old]) told her mother that Sylvia had pigged out at the buffet.  This outraged Gertrude who decided on a fitting punishment for the girl.  Gertrude passed a frankfurter around the kitchen table and her children and herself loaded numerous condiments on top and the Sylvia was forced to eat it.  She did so, and vomited almost immediately afterward.  Gertrude then forced the girl to eat the vomit.

Gertrude heard from one of her children that Sylvia had once let her boyfriend sleep in the same bed as her (this occurred when the Likens family lived in California).  This prompted the woman to scream at Sylvia "You're going to have a baby!" and subsequently kicked the young girl in her crotch.  Sylvia's imagined pregnancy outraged the genuinely pregnant Paula Baniszewski. Paula knocked Sylvia onto the floor saying "You ain't fit to sit in a chair."

It is alleged that as revenge, Sylvia told some of her fellow students at School that the two oldest Baniszewski girls, Stephanie and Paula, were "prostitutes."

Stephanie's boyfriend, Coy Hubbard, heard this and beat Sylvia.  And when she got home, she received another paddling from Gertrude.

A young thirteen year old girl named Anna Siscoe was a friend of Sylvia's until Gertrude told Anna that Sylvia had said that Anna's mother was a hooker.  Gertrude encouraged Anna to take revenge and so Anna viciously attacked the older girl. During the attack, Sylvia supposedly clutched her stomach, saying "Oh, my baby!"

Gertrude whispered similar things about Sylvia making sexually-oriented slanders into the ears of her daughter Paula as well as a girl named Judy Duke and more fights resulted.

Gertrude would often encourage the neighbourhood kids to beat Sylvia.  Paula Beniszewski quickly discovered the enjoyment of beating Sylvia with anything that was at hand (dish, bottle, or can etc.) In attacks Sylvia's younger sister Jenny would be forced to hit her sister.  Jenny would eventually comply but so as to not hurt her sister too much she would use her left hand (she was right-handed).

The next month (October) Gertrude discovered that Sylvia had stolen a gym suit (Gertrude refused to buy the girl one for gym class) and so the woman slapped and kicked the girl, then whipped her with a belt.  Sylvia was no longer allowed to go to school.  Later that day Gertrude would continue to accuse Sylvia of being promiscuous and punished her by scolding the girl and again kicking her in the crotch.  Then seeming to remember Sylvia's stealing, she lit a match to Sylvia's "sticky fingers" and gave her another whipping.

After this first incident with fire, the family and neighbourhood children would then burn Sylvia with cigarettes and lit matches.  On ne occasion Paula broke her hand whilst beating Sylvia, and then after her arm was placed in a cast she continued to beat the young girl with it.

Hurting Sylvia became the best game for all the kids in the neighbourhood.  They would kick her, hit her, flip her around through Coy Hubbard's judo tricks or imitations of them, and burn her.

One day Gertrude was still convinced that the small amount of money that Sylvia had acquired at the beginning of her stay could only have been obtained by either stealing or prostitution.  And as yet another punishment while several kids were at the house, Gertrude forced a weeping Sylvia to perform an awkward striptease in front of the bunch. When Sylvia was fully nude, Gertrude made the weeping girl shove a soft drink bottle up her vagina.  Gertrude’s daughter Stephanie came home from school and unaware that it was her own mother that had made Sylvia do the striptease she ran up to the naked girl slapped her in the face and then ordered her to go to her bedroom.

One night in October, either through anxiety or weakened control due to her numerous and never ending kicks in the crotch, Sylvia wet the bed.  It was now that the family decided she was too dirt to live among human beings and so was ordered to live in the basement with the dog.  As a further punishment for wetting herself, Paula told Sylvia she was forbidden from using the toilet and so she had to befoul herself.

While this torment was going on, the family began a regimen of tying the "dirty girl" up and forced her into their old-fashioned bathtub after they hot filled it with scolding hot water. Sometimes she was put in the tub by Gertrude and Paula and on some evening’s fourteen-year-old Ricky Hobbs was there to help.  After the baths Paula would rub salt into Sylvia's wounds.

Sylvia was often kept nude or nearly so for days at a time.  The neighbourhood kids' games with her intensified to include pushing her down the stairs to the basement, then forcing her back up just to throw her back down again.

One day, Gertrude and one of her sons, twelve year old John, allowed the now starving Sylvia up from the basement and told her to try to eat a bowl of soup with just her fingers.  Sylvia tried but her attempts infuriated John who grabbed the bowl of soup away from her.  Gertrude and John then forced the young girl to faeces and urine.

One weekend Gertrude decided to allow Sylvia to sleep in a bed upstairs.  This came with a condition though; Gertrude told John, Coy, and Stephanie to tie Sylvia to the bed so she couldn't use the toilet during the night.  "You can't go to the bathroom," Gertrude said, "until you've learned not to wet the bed."  Sylvia wet the bed that night.

The next morning began with Sylvia being forced to once again strip for everyone and again insert the coke bottle up her vagina.  And then to once again punish Sylvia for calling her two daughters prostitutes at school, Gertrude told the young confused girl "You have branded my daughters so I will brand you".

It was then suggested that Sylvia should have a "tattoo".  She was then tied down and gagged while Gertrude heated a sewing needle and carved an "I" then an apostrophe and part of the letter "M" before handing the needle to Ricky Hobbs and telling him to finish the job.  Unsure of how to spell a certain word, Gertrude wrote the message onto a piece of paper and Ricky finished his job.  The "tattoo" on Sylvia's young belly read: "I'M A PROSTITUTE AND PROUD OF IT".

A few moments after Ricky had finished carving the message; he along with Paula, Stephanie and ten year old Shirley Baniszewski decided that Sylvia hadn't endured enough and so started about branding the letter "S" (either for Sylvia or Slave).  Ricky burned the first curve and then he and Shirley called for Sylvia's sister Jenny and ordered her burn the second curve.  Jenny refused to burn her sister and so little Shirley was allowed to finish the branding.  However the ten year old was confused and accidentally got the burn the wrong way so now rather than an "S" burned onto Sylvia's chest it was now a "3".

In front of Randy Lepper, Shirley, Ricky, and Jenny Gertrude proceeded to taunt Sylvia about the words burned into her stomach. "What are you going to do now Sylvia?" Gertrude said. "You can't get married now; you can't undress in front of anyone. What are you going to do now?"

The weeping, mutilated girl choked out between sobs: "I guess there's nothing I can do. It's on there."

That evening, Sylvia was again relegated to the basement where Coy Hubbard flipped her against the walls. Later, Jenny visited her sister who told her: "I'm going to die. I can tell."

Sylvia was allowed to sleep upstairs that night and the next afternoon she was bathed by Gertrude and Stephanie; however, this was a normal, luke-warm bath rather than a scalding one.

After the bath Sylvia was forced by Gertrude and Paula to write a letter to her parents.  She began to write "Dear Mom and Dad".  Gertrude was unhappy with this opening and so told the girl to start again.  A segment of the letter:  "To Mr. and Mrs. Likens:

I went with a gang of boys in the middle of the night. And they said that they would pay me if I would give them something so I got in the car and they all got what they wanted ... and when they got finished they beat me up and left sores on my face and all over my body.

And they also put on my stomach, I am a prostitute and proud of it.

I have done just about everything that I could do just to make Gertie mad and cause Gertie more money than she's got. I've tore up a new mattress and peaed on it. I have also cost Gertie doctor bills that she really can't pay and made Gertie a nervous wreck and all her kids. . . .
"

Gertrude had planned to hand the letter over to a police-officer and tell him that Sylvia had been absent from her house for a few days, then wandered into the backyard, clutching this letter.

Gertrude discussed having someone drop Sylvia in a waste lot. She told John and Jenny that they were going to do this chore that but, before they could, Sylvia made an escape attempt. The hideously mutilated and weakened girl ran to the front door. Gertrude ran after her, catching her just as Sylvia was about to make it to the porch. Then the grown woman dragged her to the kitchen and offered the girl some toast. The sick youngster said she couldn't swallow. Infuriated, Gertrude beat her across the mouth with a curtain rod.

John once again tied Sylvia up in the basement.  Gertrude then went into the basement and offered the young girl some crackers.  Either from the continued pain of the branding or as act of defiance Sylvia told Gertrude "Give it to the dog, it's hungrier than I am."  Sylvia was punched several times in the stomach for not accepting the food.

The next day (Sunday October 24th) Gertrude and John both beat the girl.  Gertrude swung at Sylvia with a chair but it broke before it hit her. The frazzled woman then tried to hit Sylvia with the paddle but hit herself instead, blackening her own eye.  And then later in the day Coy stopped by the house and hit Sylvia in the head with a broomstick, knocking her unconscious.

That night Sylvia repeatedly pounded on the floor of her basement-prison with a shovel; neighbours were disturbed and considered calling the cops to complain about the noise but did not.

The next day Sylvia was shown a rare act of kindness and was taken upstairs for another luke-warm bath.  When Stephanie and Ricky took Sylvia out of the bath tub they realized that the young was not breathing.  Stephanie attempted to resuscitate her but failed.  Gertrude told Ricky to call the police.  When the police officers arrived Gertrude was frantic and handed the police officers the letter she had forced Sylvia to write just days before, hoping that it would absolve her of blame for the condition of Sylvia's battered and mutilated body that had been moved to a bare mattress in one of the bedrooms.  Before the officer could read the note a terrified Jenny Likens whispered to the police officer "Get me out of here and I'll tell you everything."

Her autopsy showed that she was covered with bruises and small burns that numbered over 100. There were also large areas where the outer layer of skin had peeled off.  It also showed that Sylvia's genitals were almost completely swollen shut and that she was a virgin.
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Re:Sylvia Likens
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2009, 04:17:12 pm »
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OMG I usually don't read posts this long, but this... OMG...

I feel bad for that girl, I can't imagine what she's been through... and I can't imagine people being as cruel as them to actually do that...
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Re:Sylvia Likens
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2009, 04:46:08 pm »
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It is important that young Sylvia is not forgotten.  The justice system failed her and those around her failed her.  We can't forget.  She only lived with the Baniszewski's for four months.

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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2009, 04:50:13 pm »
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Hmmm wow... It's really sad how this can happen to someone... But it's like... it's sad that it happened with this girl, but at least her story came out. There are more people who have had to endure this but whose stories never came out as much as Sylvia's did.
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Re:Sylvia Likens
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2009, 04:54:50 pm »
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Sylvia's story isn't unique, of course not, but it's also not very well known.

No person who has been murdered should be forgotten.  Their stories should always be known.

I strive to keep Rikki's memory alive.  And I will strive to keep Sylvia's memory alive.
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Re:Sylvia Likens
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2009, 06:34:02 am »
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This account was like a horror film or something - I didn't want to read on but I sort of felt I had to.

There is certainly evil in this world.  I can't understand how anyone could have so sick a mind.  It's very sad that such an innocent life was abused so badly.

Just a question - why did the father sell the daughters to Gertrude? Did they live a normal life before that? Was Gerturde any relation or neigbour to them?
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Re:Sylvia Likens
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2009, 06:45:10 am »
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He and his wife worked at a circus and they had to go to work in another state and so since Sylvia and Jenny knew the Beniszewski girl it was offered (by either their father or Gertrude) that they stay there.  Mr and Mrs Likens had five children and they couldn't travel far with Jenny due to a limp she had because of Polio.  He said he would pay her $20 a week for there upkeep.  The thought was that since Gertrude already had seven children two more wouldn't make a difference and she would be recieving money.

The Liken's family moved often due to working in the circus.
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Re:Sylvia Likens
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2009, 06:48:08 am »
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I see.  So the Likens parents weren't cruel to Sylvia and Jenny?
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Re:Sylvia Likens
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2009, 06:53:55 am »
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No evidence suggests so.  Given that it was th 1950's-60's there was spankings but nothing much.

The parents of thekids in the neighborhood knew that Sylvia was being beaten/whipped but they assumed shehad misbehaved and so was being punished.  Many people had the chance to save Sylvia by calling the police (or the police doing follow-ups) but they didn't want to "pry".
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Re:Sylvia Likens
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2009, 03:55:48 am »
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I have read about and watched a film on Sylvia, very sad and tragic case..

just search an american crime on you tube it is in 9 parts. The first parts link didnt work
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Re:Sylvia Likens
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2009, 05:48:29 am »
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That movie is OK but it is not true to what happened.

The most accurate depiction is in 'The Girl Next Door' which is a fictional story but uses Sylvia's story more so than the previous film.
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« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2009, 06:13:53 am »
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Really I thought it was true! Have you a link to this other film?
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Re:Sylvia Likens
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2009, 06:32:34 am »
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The Girl Next Door is only very loosely based on Sylvia's murder but I think it helps to show how terriied Sylvia must have been.

I shall post the link later on, providing I remember where I saw it.
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2009, 02:56:10 pm »
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Excellent I shall be eagerly awaiting it
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« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2009, 01:25:51 pm »
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Yes. Will have to watch it when have more time. The trailer is certainly very disturbing and it looks similar to the other film
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