An American Crime (2007) Poster

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  • Yes, Sylvia Likens was indeed a real person, and she did suffer under the hands of Gertrude Baniszewski. One of the film's primary departures from reality is the sympathetic portrayal of Paula Baniszewski; interviews conducted after her arrest revealed that Paula was fully compliant in Likens' torture, and at one point had even taken to literally rubbing salt in Likens' wounds, independent of her mother's suggestion. Paula's crimes were considered severe enough that the jury sentenced her to life in prison, although she was released after seven years. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Sadly, no... Jenny Likens died of a heart attack in 2004. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • No, she died of lung cancer in 1990. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Gertrude Baniszewski: when paroled in 1985 she claimed she didn't remember the events as she was "on drugs at the time" but took "full responsibility for whatever happened to Sylvia". When asked to describe her crime, she burst into tears and begged for forgiveness. She said that she was a born-again christian and she now knows the seriousness of her crimes.

    Johnny Baniszewski: John changed his name to John Blake and worked as a truck driver before becoming a real estate agent and lay minister; he was never arrested again. He married and had three children, and has lived in anonymity, only surfacing briefly in 1998 in the wake of the Jonesboro Massacre to speak for the first time about the Likens murder, saying that he took full responsibility for his role in the murder and that a harsher sentence would have been more just. He also takes part in counseling troubled children. In 1985 and 1998 interviews, he expressed great remorse although engaged in victim-blaming - criticizing Likens family for leaving Sylvia and Jenny with Gertrude.

    Stephanie Baniszewski: In remarks at the time of AAC's production she acknowledged the continuing popular anger about the events of 1965 and said that people were 'entitled to feel angry' and talked about the children's fear of their mother. Stated that she had 'fond memories of Sylvia and Jenny' and was 'Sylvia's friend'.

    Marie Baniszewski: In remarks at the time of AAC's production she talked about how she (and Shirley Baniszewski) was terrified of her mother and implied that she thought at the time that she would get the same treatment as Sylvia if she "told".

    Paula Baniszewski: Paula's fate, current whereabouts, and reflections on her crimes remain unknown. All that is known is that after being released from prison Paula moved to Iowa and assumed a new identity; internet rumors claim that she is still alive and lives on a farm somewhere in the Iowa countryside. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Yes and no, Gertrude was convicted of 1st degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison (She was not given the death penalty). She was released on parole in 1985, even though many people petitioned against it. Paula was convicted of 2nd degree murder, but was appealed and pled guilty to voulntary manslaughter. She was released after 7 or 8 years. Stephanie was given a second trial, but before that took place her murder charges were dropped. Injury to person charges were also dropped for some of the other children. Coy Hubbard, Ricky Hobbs, and Johnny Baniszweski were each convicted of manslaughter, they each spent 18 months in a juvenile detention facility. No charges were brought against Shirley or Marie Banieszweski. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Yes. There is a short dedication reading: Sylvia Likens 1949-1965 Edit (Coming Soon)

  • 'An American Crime' is based on the actual story, using the real names (sans a few supporting roles for some of the neighborhood children) 'The Girl Next Door' is based on the novel by Jack Ketchum who originally based it off of Sylvia Liken's story. He uses fictional names, different times and places and a different set up (with a few similarities). Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The fates of Baniszewski's children remains largely unknown.

    Paula Baniszewski moved to Iowa and assumed a new identity; internet rumors claim that she is still alive and lives on a farm somewhere in the Iowa countryside. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2222130/Paula-Pace-Baniszewski-Teachers-aide-suspended-officials-learn-family-tortured-killed-teenage-girl-1965.html

    Stephanie Baniszewski became a school teacher and assumed a new name.

    John Baniszewki changed his name to John Blake and worked as a truck driver before becoming a real estate agent and lay minister; he was never arrested again. He married and had three children, and lived in anonymity, only surfacing briefly in 1998 in the wake of the Jonesboro Massacre to speak for the first time about the Likens murder, saying that he took full responsibility for his role in the murder and that a harsher sentence would have been more just. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • This has been the topic of much debate. Psychologists and criminal profilers determine that Gertude was under severe stress at the time from her maintaining of the household and several failed marriages (one which was abusive) among many other things. When Sylvia came into the house, it only made things worse. This is because Sylvia reminded Gertude of everything she was not. Sylvia was beautiful, young, and care-free while Gertude was ugly, old, and under stress all the time. Because of these factors, an evil anger formed in Gertude. She took out her anger on Sylvia as a result. Finding just about any excuse to brutally punish her by the most evil means. Many also say that she formed a sadism toward Sylvia and found pleasure when torturing her. She would also find pleasure in exercising her power of her children and manipulating them into doing horrid things. Bottom line, most people agree that Sylvia was a scapegoat for Gertude and had no moral value to her. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • It was accurate for the most part. It accurately displayed the feeling and mood that was present. However, the actual events portrayed are largely watered-down. The real events were much more disturbing and brutal. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • It was intended to become a shelter for women, but was instead demolished in 2009. It was uninhabited and abandon for years prior to its demolition. A local church right across the street has purchased the property and intends to make a parking lot out of it. This video shows the interior of the house before it was demolished. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • This website has the complete collection of transcripts from the court. But do yourself a favor and don't dig to deep into it. You won't be able to get it out of your head. Edit (Coming Soon)

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