Health and Beauty

International Skin And Body Care Redlands Ca

The Life and Deaths of Dorothea Puente

Steepled ceiling, chatter and laughter create a kinetic mood amid the dense scent of microwaved pizza, burgers and fried chicken strips. Beneath the room’s ashen lighting stand neat rows of small round tables, some 50 in all. Ringed by four chairs, each serves as the setting of a reunion between a prisoner and those she knows from the outside.

An Asian woman in her mid-thirties, with sharp cheekbones framed by long glossy black hair, wears standard-issue prisoner garb: white T-shirt with long navy blue sleeves, dungarees and blue sneakers. On her lap bounces a pony-tailed girl in a red-buttoned vest who giggles “Mama!” Two tables over, a stout, fortyish black woman with a toothy smile banters with her parents and younger brother, to judge from the physical semblance. Behind them, a twentysomething blonde clutches the hands of a young man with a sun tattoo on his forearm. Sitting knee to knee, they stare without speaking, eyes wet.

I watch the scenes unfold from table No. 13, as designated by the plastic placard atop its faux-wood surface. I am not here to take part in a reunion; I have never so much as glimpsed the woman I am waiting to meet. I know her only through the words of others. I have read books and hundreds of news articles and file after file of court records related to her crimes. I have talked to her attorneys, to the cop who unmasked her, to the prosecutor who tried her for murder, to jurors who found her guilty. I have listened to the lingering grief and anger of a man whose mother died mysteriously while in her care. I have also done this: Late at night, when it is said her deeds turned darkest, I have pondered the vastness of human nature as I stood outside the tiny yard where she buried her victims.