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Torture Mom: A Chilling True Story of Confinement, Mutilation and Murder (True Crime)

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In July 1965, teenagers Sylvia and Jenny Likens were left in the temporary care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a middle-aged single mother and her seven children. The Baniszewski household was overrun with children. There were few rules and ample freedom. Sadly, the environment created a dangerous hierarchy of social Darwinism where the strong preyed on the weak. What transpir In July 1965, teenagers Sylvia and Jenny Likens were left in the temporary care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a middle-aged single mother and her seven children. The Baniszewski household was overrun with children. There were few rules and ample freedom. Sadly, the environment created a dangerous hierarchy of social Darwinism where the strong preyed on the weak. What transpired in the following three months was both riveting and chilling. In October 1965, the body of Sylvia Likens was found in the basement of the Baniszewski home, where she had been imprisoned. She was starved, beaten, burned and had the words "I am a prostitute and proud of it" carved into her stomach. Gertrude Baniszewski oversaw and facilitated the torture and eventual murder of Sylvia Likens. While she played an active role in Sylvia's death, the majority of the abuse was carried out by her children and other neighbourhood youths. The case shocked the entire nation and would later be described as "The single worst crime perpetuated against an individual in Indiana's history". *CAUTION: This book contains descriptive accounts of abuse and violence. If you are especially sensitive to this material, it might be advisable not to read any further


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In July 1965, teenagers Sylvia and Jenny Likens were left in the temporary care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a middle-aged single mother and her seven children. The Baniszewski household was overrun with children. There were few rules and ample freedom. Sadly, the environment created a dangerous hierarchy of social Darwinism where the strong preyed on the weak. What transpir In July 1965, teenagers Sylvia and Jenny Likens were left in the temporary care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a middle-aged single mother and her seven children. The Baniszewski household was overrun with children. There were few rules and ample freedom. Sadly, the environment created a dangerous hierarchy of social Darwinism where the strong preyed on the weak. What transpired in the following three months was both riveting and chilling. In October 1965, the body of Sylvia Likens was found in the basement of the Baniszewski home, where she had been imprisoned. She was starved, beaten, burned and had the words "I am a prostitute and proud of it" carved into her stomach. Gertrude Baniszewski oversaw and facilitated the torture and eventual murder of Sylvia Likens. While she played an active role in Sylvia's death, the majority of the abuse was carried out by her children and other neighbourhood youths. The case shocked the entire nation and would later be described as "The single worst crime perpetuated against an individual in Indiana's history". *CAUTION: This book contains descriptive accounts of abuse and violence. If you are especially sensitive to this material, it might be advisable not to read any further

30 review for Torture Mom: A Chilling True Story of Confinement, Mutilation and Murder (True Crime)

  1. 4 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Took place In Indianapolis during the 1960s. I’m so morbid; I always get excited when a crime takes place in my area. The mom fostered two teenage sisters and the support payments stopped. She took out her frustrations and disgust at life out on the older girl, Sylvia. This book is particularly brutal if you have violence triggers maybe skip

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kerrie Carlisle

    I first heard about this story on My Favourite Murder and became very intrigued by the way this vile, disgusting monster became just as much a cult leader to a group of children persuading them to torture, in some of the worst rscenes I have read since A Child Called It, and destroy a peer of there age group. This completely true account of an event more horrifyingly terrifying than any Stephen King novel I had finished it within a few hours. The writing style reminded me of The Adversary by Emman I first heard about this story on My Favourite Murder and became very intrigued by the way this vile, disgusting monster became just as much a cult leader to a group of children persuading them to torture, in some of the worst rscenes I have read since A Child Called It, and destroy a peer of there age group. This completely true account of an event more horrifyingly terrifying than any Stephen King novel I had finished it within a few hours. The writing style reminded me of The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère, it feels more like reading a work of fiction than a crime retelling, the rhythm is straight forward but not over loaded with facts and figures some other retellings do such as Helter Skelter. I will definitely be ordering more Ryan Green books especially the one about Harold Shipman “The Doctor of Death” and the most dangerous serial killer in the history of the UK.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Kupres

    I have to begin with this tale is truly not for the faint of heart. While reading this, you may feel sick to your stomach and want to slam your choice of reader and never open this book again. Ryan searches truly searches for true crime in places we may not have expected. He continues to bring us tales of humans performing horrible acts to our fellow man. His work continues to evolve but what I enjoy most, is that he does not have a formula that he follows with each story. Torture Mom is told from I have to begin with this tale is truly not for the faint of heart. While reading this, you may feel sick to your stomach and want to slam your choice of reader and never open this book again. Ryan searches truly searches for true crime in places we may not have expected. He continues to bring us tales of humans performing horrible acts to our fellow man. His work continues to evolve but what I enjoy most, is that he does not have a formula that he follows with each story. Torture Mom is told from the point of view of Jenny and Sylvia who have come to live with Ma - Gertrude Baniszewski by way of carny parents who basically abandon them with Gert for $20 per week. Before meeting Sylvia and Jenny, we learn how Gert begins her journey as an isolated child, segregated from her family by the death of her father, who only finds solitude as she ages in having children. While she may not have experienced the greatest upbringing or marriage life, nothing really points to the torture and abuse she brings upon two young girls that she takes in to “help.” The complete lack of human empathy or the basic knowledge of what is right and wrong is completely thrown out the window when it comes to these two young girls. While I felt for Gert in the beginning, it slowly turns to despise as we begin to see everything through the eyes of Sylvia. Sylvia literally becomes Gert’s human torture doll and it is sickening. I became so emotionally involved in this story,I felt like I was there for each tortuous moment, helplessly witnessing every vulgar act to the point where i can feel my stomach turning, pushing everything into my throat to be exiled everywhere. Aside from the lack of responsibility Gert took for her actions to Sylvia and Jenny but her influence amongst the youth that entered her home and brainwashing, these children were not aware that they too were being abused by a trusted adult. Disappointment may be what truly comes from this tale. Disappointment in our justice system but also for an entire community of people who saw the signs of neglect but turned a blind eye to it all. Ryan does not disappoint with his delivery of Torture Mom, if only Hollywood endings happened in real life though. ​

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    Now, some of y’all may be familiar with the Sylvia Likens’s tragic story either through Ketchum’s novel, The Girl Next Door, or the movie, American Crime (starring Ellen Page). This true torture story is probably the most harrowing and heart wrenching things I’ve ever read in my life. I read The Girl Next Door and then immediately did tons of research on this case. . . What Green does here is tell us from the side of Gertrude Baniszewski, the woman who tortured and ordered other children to tortur Now, some of y’all may be familiar with the Sylvia Likens’s tragic story either through Ketchum’s novel, The Girl Next Door, or the movie, American Crime (starring Ellen Page). This true torture story is probably the most harrowing and heart wrenching things I’ve ever read in my life. I read The Girl Next Door and then immediately did tons of research on this case. . . What Green does here is tell us from the side of Gertrude Baniszewski, the woman who tortured and ordered other children to torture Sylvia. I liked reading about her past and how it may have spurred her into this horrid person. And the ending gives us where everyone is now and all is basically based on testimonies. No one will every truly know what happened. . . I did feel like the filler, middle part, was basically a regurgitation of what we already know from the other book and/or movies.... but this case is what made Gertrude an almost household name. I think I wasn’t expecting it to go in the girls’s POV and wanted more from inside Gertrude’s mind. . . If you’re fascinated with this case, I’d say pick this up but there’s not *too* much new in terms of information. Those who have issues with the book and/or movie due to the explicit torture will want to stay away from this as well. .

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆

    Sad, sad case. This one always horrifies me. I think it's both the torture and the knowing that SO many people knew about it. SO many knew and none did a thing. There were direct witnesses who saw the abuse or heard the screams, in one case one of the perps (a neighborhood girl) told her mother about it and the mother did nothing (saying she'd heard Sylvia was a "bad" girl and probably pregnant -- like being a pregnant teen meant it's okay to torture someone to death), her sister Jenny wrote a l Sad, sad case. This one always horrifies me. I think it's both the torture and the knowing that SO many people knew about it. SO many knew and none did a thing. There were direct witnesses who saw the abuse or heard the screams, in one case one of the perps (a neighborhood girl) told her mother about it and the mother did nothing (saying she'd heard Sylvia was a "bad" girl and probably pregnant -- like being a pregnant teen meant it's okay to torture someone to death), her sister Jenny wrote a letter to her sister and she did nothing, all those kids did nothing -- it's just horrifying. There's so much made about that case in NY where a woman got stabbed and the people didn't help -- that case was proven false, btw -- and here you have this case where she was tortured for MONTHS and no one did anything, yet it's not widely talked about. Very sad. I was I could go there to comfort her and be there so she wouldn't have to die alone, forsaken. I guess that sounds horrible but just dying there all alone is so terrible. ;=;

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lorelei

    I have read about the Sylvia Likens case a lot since i watched An American Crime which, compared to the real story, was a somewhat lightweight portrayal on screen. It's easily one of the worst crimes i have ever heard and any book or film about it instantly draws my attention such as the House of Evil by John Dean which was a very detailed book due to the fact that the writer had covered the case as a journalist back in 1965. This new book is rather flawed in my eyes. While the pace is all right I have read about the Sylvia Likens case a lot since i watched An American Crime which, compared to the real story, was a somewhat lightweight portrayal on screen. It's easily one of the worst crimes i have ever heard and any book or film about it instantly draws my attention such as the House of Evil by John Dean which was a very detailed book due to the fact that the writer had covered the case as a journalist back in 1965. This new book is rather flawed in my eyes. While the pace is all right, it ends rather abruptly and some chapters feel disjointed. The account of events isn't explained very well nor chronologically so it can be confusing to the reader, and certain crucial characters are omitted or ignored, for example, John Jr. was one of Sylvia's most active and ruthless tormentors but his name is brought up briefly during the end of the book and none of his violent acts are mentioned. I appreciate the attempt to convey what would Sylvia might have been thinking during her torture and that's the most compelling thing about this book. The events are described pretty accurately as to what we know from the court transcripts but certain details, such as the bottle incidents feel like they have some fiction added to them. The inaccuracies start from small details for instance , there's no account of Sylvia calling Gertrude "Mom" and i don't remember any of the kids calling her that, other than "Gertie". The branded 3 on her chest was done with an iron poker, not a hot needle. Diana, Sylvia's oldest sister, never visited them or had any contact with them as she herself claimed in an interview. She hadn't heard about the Baniszewskis before the murder. The final part about her death is completely messed up; she didn't die in the basement and the police didn't find her body there. Ricky Hobbs said they brought her up from the basement to give her a bath and then she was placed on a mattress on the top floor where the police took pictures. Most importantly, the part about Gertrude having sexual relations with Ricky Hobbs is fabricated and false. There is a detailed scene where she has oral sex with him and that has never been mentioned or even implied before! There was speculation in court about the nature of her relationship with young boys and especially Ricky, but he denied it when he was questioned and there's no evidence that anything had happened between the two. Gertrude might have been flirtatious with the teenage boys she had around her house but there's no proof that she seduced those boys. That scene was made up solely to show her manipulative ways and how she got those kids to do anything she wanted. In conclusion, i believe the author could have done better research before writing this book. Even Gertrude's hateful words to Sylvia feel like they are written intentionally vile to give the readers chills which is unnecesssary; the story is as mortifying as it is. While there are flaws, the story is very much real, and that's the saddest part. Everyone failed this girl and justice was poorly served. She may not come back but her story lives on, more than half a century later. No one has forgotten her.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

    I read this in one sitting, partially because I wanted to know what happened to the victims, and partially because I wanted to get it over with. After finishing I read a Wikipedia page on this incident, and realized I could have skipped the book for Wikipedia and gotten the idea just as well. This book isn't particularly well-written and employs pronouns clumsily. It gets compelling about 1/3 of the way through, but only because of the real-life events it is describing. The story is, in many pla I read this in one sitting, partially because I wanted to know what happened to the victims, and partially because I wanted to get it over with. After finishing I read a Wikipedia page on this incident, and realized I could have skipped the book for Wikipedia and gotten the idea just as well. This book isn't particularly well-written and employs pronouns clumsily. It gets compelling about 1/3 of the way through, but only because of the real-life events it is describing. The story is, in many places, gut-wrenching and upsetting, with zero redeeming qualities, and it literally induced a nightmare. I can imagine only the most die-hard lovers of true crime could enjoy reading this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ballard

    Torture Mom As a young girl living in Indiana I can remember my mom talking about this case. I can also remember how angry my mom was when she was granted parole. After reading this I can understand why mom was so cautious about allowing my siblings and I to go to houses of people she didn't know. Such a sad and terrifying story. I loved and hated reading it at the same time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrea oller

    Disturbing on another level Just putting 5 stars on this makes my stomach turn. Not due to the writing, but out of shame that anything to do with this poor girls story should show any sort of praise. I would love to know what the kids of this monsters names are today because not one of them deserves even one second of peace in this life. They sure as hell won t receive any in the next life!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessi

    Apparently if you self publish a book you don’t have to worry about any pesky fact checking or corroboration and can still claim you’re writing true crime. I was eager for an account of the Likens case that benefitted from hindsight, as the only other nonfiction account was written in the midst of the trial. What I got was essentially crime fanfiction, which Jack Ketchum had already done in Girl Next Door.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Georgie

    Absolutely horrific! I can’t even imagine the pain that those girls had to endure. Sad, sad read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily Ross

    I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. So this book felt more like fictionalized torture erotica than an actual true crime novel; there were many many chapters dedicated to the re-enactment of the sexual torture that Sylvia Likens suffered and it was really graphic. This book is not well paced and it jumps a lot which can make it quite confusing. I did have to have wikipedia open to follow what was happened as I listened to the book. As su I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. So this book felt more like fictionalized torture erotica than an actual true crime novel; there were many many chapters dedicated to the re-enactment of the sexual torture that Sylvia Likens suffered and it was really graphic. This book is not well paced and it jumps a lot which can make it quite confusing. I did have to have wikipedia open to follow what was happened as I listened to the book. As such, there did seem to be quite a few discrepancies in the novel, which makes the crime feel even more heinous than it already is.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Krantz

    Gertrude Baniszewski was not a nice woman. She was selfish, cruel, and twisted. Everything she did to Sylvia Likens was horrific, and it’s hard to believe that a person could all those things to another person, let alone a child. The fact that it was a group effort to torture that girl only made it all the more horrific. This book has a lot of disturbing content against children so only listen if you have a strong stomach. Narration paired well with the audiobook. This book was given to me for free Gertrude Baniszewski was not a nice woman. She was selfish, cruel, and twisted. Everything she did to Sylvia Likens was horrific, and it’s hard to believe that a person could all those things to another person, let alone a child. The fact that it was a group effort to torture that girl only made it all the more horrific. This book has a lot of disturbing content against children so only listen if you have a strong stomach. Narration paired well with the audiobook. This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Zelda

    I was given a free ebook copy of this book in return for an honest review. Some say that truth can be stranger than fiction. This is definitely so in the case of this book, which deals with truths so harrowing, that they are far stranger and painful than fiction to read. The author writes very engagingly, and with added insights into the main characters in this book. Sylvia and her sister Jenny Likens are left in the "care" of Gertrude Baniszewski, while their parents work the carnival circuit. Th I was given a free ebook copy of this book in return for an honest review. Some say that truth can be stranger than fiction. This is definitely so in the case of this book, which deals with truths so harrowing, that they are far stranger and painful than fiction to read. The author writes very engagingly, and with added insights into the main characters in this book. Sylvia and her sister Jenny Likens are left in the "care" of Gertrude Baniszewski, while their parents work the carnival circuit. The two girls are both normal, average, nice girls. However, it soon becomes obvious that Gertrude has taken a strong and psychotic dislike to Sylvia. Gertrude does everything in her power to ensure that Sylvia is mercilessly tortured, both physically and mentally. She seems to have an almost hypnotic power over her own children and the many neighbourhood children who frequently visit the dilapidated house; she actively encourages them to take part in hurting and humiliating Sylvia. When help does finally arrive, it is, alas, too late. Reading this true account in such engaging and descriptive words broke my heart. It made me wish I had been an angel or a super hero back then; so that I could have rescued poor Sylvia and her sister Jenny.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    This is a horrific story of abuse and torture and hell will surely burn a little hotter for this woman. I cried for Sylvia and I cannot believe so many people completely ignored what was happening around them. School, church, neighbors, social services all failed this child and will have to answer for their negligence one day. And the other kids who participated along the way we’re just disgusting. This book is why I like dogs better than most people I meet.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Great, quick listen on audible. I requested this audio book and give my review voluntarily. Some true-crime stories can be dull and drawn-out. I loved the quick pace and novel-like storytelling the author uses. This horrid story has been told many times before, yet this book manages to shed some new light on motivation that has been missing in some retellings.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dolores

    It's hard to give a good review on such a terrible crime. As I was reading the book, I realized that I had "heard" this story before and realized that I had seen this story in the movie--An American Crime. It's heartbreaking.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    Q: Knowing humans as thou dost, Captain, wouldst thou be captured helpless by them? "Encounter at Farpoint" Stardate: 41153.7 Original Airdate: 28 Sep, 1987 This is Green's account of the horrific sadistic torture and killing of a young girl famously recounted in An American Crime (2007). Each book and treatment gives a different view on this as several of the many witnesses and participants testified in court as to what happened. That so many knew and did nothing makes this example of the bystande Q: Knowing humans as thou dost, Captain, wouldst thou be captured helpless by them? "Encounter at Farpoint" Stardate: 41153.7 Original Airdate: 28 Sep, 1987 This is Green's account of the horrific sadistic torture and killing of a young girl famously recounted in An American Crime (2007). Each book and treatment gives a different view on this as several of the many witnesses and participants testified in court as to what happened. That so many knew and did nothing makes this example of the bystander effect makes even the legend of Kitty Genovese bystander apathy look insignificant.

  19. 5 out of 5

    SpookyBoogie

    Very difficult to read. Bleak and monstrous. There is no real justice.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Really unbelievable story. Well written and researched.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cara Skelly

    Very good writing....such a horrible sad story that is hard to read at times.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    I think this story will always haunt me. I did like reading some background on Gert. Nothing about her history justifies her actions though. I was glad the ending explained what happened to everyone.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa-Jaine

    The most heartbreaking, disturbing book I think I have ever read. The rating is for the author's writing and not for "entertainment" value. Ryan Green has a way of really drawing you into his writing and writing as if it's a work of fiction unlike some true crime books which you feel have just cribbed from the internet and laid out facts.

  24. 5 out of 5

    KATHY HINDENACH

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I continue to find Ryan Green's true crime writing well done. In no way is it lighthearted reading, but being a survivor of childhood abuse, I've always been interested in 'horror'. I am one of the public that is outraged that Gertrude Baniszewski was not put to death. She was responsible for destroying Sylvia Likens &, equally shockingly, coerced a dozen teenagers to cooperate. No matter the reasons, she was the adult & not 'partially', but, fully responsible. I agree, "There is no bottom to the I continue to find Ryan Green's true crime writing well done. In no way is it lighthearted reading, but being a survivor of childhood abuse, I've always been interested in 'horror'. I am one of the public that is outraged that Gertrude Baniszewski was not put to death. She was responsible for destroying Sylvia Likens &, equally shockingly, coerced a dozen teenagers to cooperate. No matter the reasons, she was the adult & not 'partially', but, fully responsible. I agree, "There is no bottom to the pit of blame surrounding the death of Sylvia Likens." As stated, there was a whole community aware at least in part there was something wrong with the situation & not one person gave the effort to help. When a child is being abused in any way, it shows, clearly, in their appearance & behavior. The shame belongs directly on adults turning away from it, not the children that carry the burden their lifetime, if they survive. Regarding: (this).."unfortunate girl (being) the victim of what has been described as the single worst crime perpetrated against an individual in all of human history." As hard as it is to believe that she was not able to escape from her nightmare of torture & ultimate murder, this stuff does happen much more than we anywhere near acknowledge. It is in our denial of it & the silence surrounding it, that it is perpetuated. Our society has become much more 'child-centric' than when I was young, but abuse continues. Not only is it impossible for a child to protect themselves, they are rarely if ever able to speak of it to begin to heal from the traumatic wounds. Which suits society well because we would rather argue over 'false accusations' & legal technicalities, & avoid messy situations than protect our children. Let's continue to argue about abortion, & gun control, & 'us & them'.. to distract us from finding solutions. If there is anything that requires ZERO TOLERANCE, it is the harming of the most vulnerable among us. That we are able to continue to ignore this distresses me more than any tale of horror. It seems that our only slim hope is in those that are able to join together & heal enough to speak their truths. Hopefully this is beginning, finally, to happen. Because no-one understands & no-one wants to know. The chain of abuse has to stop.

  25. 5 out of 5

    The Nutbarn

    This story takes place in 1965 and three people are central to it: Sylvia and Jenny Likens, a pair of sisters and Gertrude Baniszewski, an adult woman and mother. It happens over a three month span of time when almost anyone could have changed the turn of events but didn't. Jenny and Slyvia, through a bizarre maze of parental neglect, come to live Gertrude and her children. She has a firm grip on them but not on her mind. She is unbelievably cruel, with a religious twist. When everyone that is su This story takes place in 1965 and three people are central to it: Sylvia and Jenny Likens, a pair of sisters and Gertrude Baniszewski, an adult woman and mother. It happens over a three month span of time when almost anyone could have changed the turn of events but didn't. Jenny and Slyvia, through a bizarre maze of parental neglect, come to live Gertrude and her children. She has a firm grip on them but not on her mind. She is unbelievably cruel, with a religious twist. When everyone that is supposed to love and protect her, fails her instead Slyvia dies slowly, in the dark, on the basement's unfinished floor. She was just 15. This book is the kind that will keep you up at night. No, there isn't a killer clown or a flesh eating disease being transmitted through water sources. It's worse than that. This monster lived among us. Her children probably still do. The author did a great job in recreating the scenes but that's also part of the problem. He recreates entire conversations, thoughts, emotions, to such an extent that it's basically a dramatization and he never cites his sourcing for research. Did he pour over court transcripts? Did he speak to some of the children that would now be nearing retirement age? I don't think so, but he never tells us. I know that's a petty gripe and it's the only one I have. Otherwise, the book is noticeably flawless. It's told linearly so it flows very easily and progresses quickly. I didn't have any issues with spelling or other technical concerns. This book is as dark as its title implies. The subject matter is incredibly dark and the book will give you the shivers. It will also piss you off. If you're like me, you'd like to think we've come further in protecting children like Slyvia and Jenny. You'd be wrong. Turn on the TV news almost any day of the week and you still hear similar stories. And that's another tragedy. This story includes but is not limited to: torture, parental neglect and abandonment, child welfare and the failure to protect one that needed it most, adult/child sex, religion, mental illness, court proceedings, bullying, sex before marriage, teen pregnancy. The list could go in but I think this is enough to let you know if you'd be interested in reading it or not.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    Oh jeez. Oh man, this was a story. If even half of the incidents that occurred in this book are true then this is the most horrible thing I have ever heard about a person going through. I intentionally didn't read The Girl Next Door because it seemed like so much torture porn. I am not into that. I didn't realize it was loosely based on real life events. This book made me mad. Very mad. And it made me wonder how something like this can fall between the cracks. I didn't know the details going in Oh jeez. Oh man, this was a story. If even half of the incidents that occurred in this book are true then this is the most horrible thing I have ever heard about a person going through. I intentionally didn't read The Girl Next Door because it seemed like so much torture porn. I am not into that. I didn't realize it was loosely based on real life events. This book made me mad. Very mad. And it made me wonder how something like this can fall between the cracks. I didn't know the details going in so when Ryan Green starts with Gert's background and all the mental issues and mental breaks she had I started feeling like whatever she did was founded in mental distress. That may be well and true, but that doesn't explain the kids joining in, the parents running off and being ok with weak explanations why their girls were emaciated when they come back after a year away, and it didn't explain an entire neighborhood ignoring the clear distress that this little girl was going through. I asked myself many times while reading this account, "Why doesn't she just leave-take off and go anywhere else?" But kids want to believe that adults will take care of them. The parents will come back and if they do then she will be gone and it will hurt them. That the person in charge of them may make mistakes, but ultimately has their best interests in mind. That someone will help her. This was well written and narrated and now I need a long hot shower and and 5th of something and then if I hear the word "whore" one more time, I am going to go drunken master on someone. I am going to read something lighthearted like Skeleton Crew to get this crawling ache out of my head. Seriously, this was the toughest book I have ever gone through. This audio book was given to me at my request for my free and unbiased review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Just finished reading “Torture Mom: A Chilling True Story of Confinement, Mutilation and Murder” by Ryan Green. I have read “A Child Called It” before and I didn’t think anything could be worse than the abuse in that book, but this true crime has to be the worst ever in history. It will break your heart to read it, and I know I will never be able to forget it. In July 1965, teenagers Sylvia and Jenny Likens were left in the temporary care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a middle-aged single mother and Just finished reading “Torture Mom: A Chilling True Story of Confinement, Mutilation and Murder” by Ryan Green. I have read “A Child Called It” before and I didn’t think anything could be worse than the abuse in that book, but this true crime has to be the worst ever in history. It will break your heart to read it, and I know I will never be able to forget it. In July 1965, teenagers Sylvia and Jenny Likens were left in the temporary care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a middle-aged single mother and her seven children. The Baniszewski household was overrun with children. There were few rules and ample freedom. Sadly, the environment created a dangerous hierarchy of social Darwinism where the strong preyed on the weak. What transpired in the following three months was both riveting and chilling. In October 1965, the body of Sylvia Likens was found in the basement of the Baniszewski home, where she had been imprisoned. She was starved, beaten, burned and had the words "I am a prostitute and proud of it" carved into her stomach. Gertrude Baniszewski oversaw and facilitated the torture and eventual murder of Sylvia Likens. While she played an active role in Sylvia's death, the majority of the abuse was carried out by her children and other neighbourhood youths. The case shocked the entire nation and would later be described as "The single worst crime perpetuated against an individual in Indiana's history".

  28. 4 out of 5

    odedo1

    Why America? Growing in The United States I always wondered why %90 of all Serial Murderers are Americans, it’s true that Jack the Ripper which was British and never been caught was the first documented one that I’ve heard of but the nesting place for pretty much all is still the U.S. and I always felt that Ryan Green the author could supply the answer to my question. As usual Green expertise in research, filling in the gaps and turning it all into a readable story is unmatched. It took me two Why America? Growing in The United States I always wondered why %90 of all Serial Murderers are Americans, it’s true that Jack the Ripper which was British and never been caught was the first documented one that I’ve heard of but the nesting place for pretty much all is still the U.S. and I always felt that Ryan Green the author could supply the answer to my question. As usual Green expertise in research, filling in the gaps and turning it all into a readable story is unmatched. It took me two days after listening to this audiobook to relax enough to be able to review this gruesome story. What I take from this story is at least two realizations: The first is simple, beside all the people that knew and done nothing, the system itself failed, the social workers where created especially for cases like this! The second is awful as Green perfectly showed in this story that even if the evil was caught he or she can leave inheritances behind to continue their work which can continue for generations. About this audiobook which is so different from all of Ryan Green books because it got nothing to do with serial killers and I still can’t decide which is worse? I do believe that it could have became eventually a Serial Murder case if the authorities would have kept not paying attention which was so close. My recommendation: If you got the stomach for real crimes, this one is a must!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laurel L. Perez

    Once I started reading books about Sylvia Likens, I feel like I just need to push through, for my emotional health. Then, I am taking a break. Before reading this, I read "Let's Go Play at the Adams'" and Jack Ketchum's "Girl Next Door", both books, much like this one that I do not think that everyone should read. Because content, it's rough. Now this book is meant to be read as fact, and on his website, he says this: "I try to focus on facts, alternative considerations, and general open-mindedn Once I started reading books about Sylvia Likens, I feel like I just need to push through, for my emotional health. Then, I am taking a break. Before reading this, I read "Let's Go Play at the Adams'" and Jack Ketchum's "Girl Next Door", both books, much like this one that I do not think that everyone should read. Because content, it's rough. Now this book is meant to be read as fact, and on his website, he says this: "I try to focus on facts, alternative considerations, and general open-mindedness. I attempt to put the reader in the perspective of the killer and those who knew them". I will say he does this well and did write in some background on Gertie that I had not run across before. Keep in mind this does fall under the umbrella of 'true crime' writing, so the writing is certainly not capital L literature. I was uneasy the entire read, and that, for me, makes all the difference, even when the writing kind if pulled me out. DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS you have survived the titles above. This is meant to be the real stuff, and Mendal and Ketchum wreak havoc on the psyche enough -- This feels like small deaths over and over. The cruelty that humans can inflict is awful, and Gertie, she is one of the worst stories I have ever heard of. This is not for the faint of heart, I only recommend this for research purposes, and even then, be careful with your heart.

  30. 5 out of 5

    danielle

    I was given a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. I didn't know of this case before listening. While listening, I had to take some breaks because of the descriptions of abuse. So, for those that are sensitive to this should be forwarned. It got pretty intense towards the end of her life. Knowing that this was a true account make it even more horrifying than any novel dealing with torture or murder. It actually make me sick to stomach to give it as many stars as I did. But I was given a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. I didn't know of this case before listening. While listening, I had to take some breaks because of the descriptions of abuse. So, for those that are sensitive to this should be forwarned. It got pretty intense towards the end of her life. Knowing that this was a true account make it even more horrifying than any novel dealing with torture or murder. It actually make me sick to stomach to give it as many stars as I did. But, I found it well told, and well paced. I didn't find any fluff or filler in telling Gertrude's back story or in how this crime started, progressed and how many were actually involved. Yes, the subject matter was very upsetting and hard to listen to at times. Being that this is true crime and not one I was familar with, I can't really speak to any inaccuracies or missing characters (as I have seen mentioned in other reviews). To me, this was a great listen even while horrifying in parts. However, it was still mostly facts, or a retelling of the history of what happened except for the last couple of minutes of the audio. The horrific treatment of this girl was just heartbreaking. However, I still give the telling of it 4 stars.

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