The Gunness Mystery is a documentary, detailing the life of one of the most prolific female serial killers in history. In the late 1800s, Belle Gunness emigrated from a small town in Norway to the bustling city of Chicago. Following the death of her first husband, she moved with several of her foster children to a farm in La Porte, Indiana. Belle began reaching out to men across the Midwest through a series of want ads in Scandinavian newspapers.
Those who answered her ads were promised a bright future as a partner in her farm. They were also told to sell their belongings, bring only cash, and not tell anyone where they were going. Those who came were never seen again.
Cast & Crew
Bruce Johnson - Writer/Narrator/Composer
Bruce Johnson is a native of La Porte, Indiana with degrees in education from Ball State University and Valparaiso University. He has completed post-graduate work in international studies in England, France, Russia, Australia, Japan, and China. He taught at South Central School in La Porte County for over 40 years, and has taught previously with the Peace Corps on the island of St. Vincent in the Eastern Caribbean and as a missionary teacher in the Liberian bush of western Africa.
Bruce has been researching the Belle Gunness story for many years partly because of his interest in local history and his Scandinavian heritage. He has hosted guests from Norway, England, and France who have visited La Porte also to research Belle Gunness. As a result, he has appeared in television documentaries in Norway and England. He is also the first La Portean to have visited the home of Gunness in Selbu, Norway.
In 2007, he volunteered to create a historic presentation to observe the 100th anniversary of the Gunness discoveries and raise funds to purchase gravestones for the victims buried in La Porte. It was his goal to research and write a factual script for The Gunness Mystery and use archival photos to create an accurate account that could be presented to local organizations in exchange for donations to the memorial fund. He also was determined to locate as many living relatives of victims as possible who would be able to take part in the dedication of the gravestones the following spring. More than forty relatives of victims were in attendance from throughout the country for the memorial dedication services on April 26, 2008.
Bruce is truly grateful to have accomplished these goals and continues to travel throughout the area giving his slide presentation. To have his work now available on DVD is another dream come true. He is thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Stephen in putting this production together. It has been an absolutely phenomenal experience.
Stephen Ruminski - Producer/Director/Editor
Born in La Porte, Indiana, Stephen Ruminski is an aspiring writer, director, and editor. He is a graduate of Tribeca Flashpoint Academy in Chicago, Illinois. There he studied film and film post-production.
At a young age Stephen discovered he had a passion for creating videos and telling stories. This passion has led him down a path of becoming a filmmaker. Recently he has made 2 short films, "Jupiter" and "Blackout." He also co-produced and directed the pilot for the sitcom "Confidence Men."
Stephen has also been running his own video production company, P. C. Video Productions, for many years. Through this company he has videotaped and edited weddings, plays, promotional videos, photo slideshows, and other special events. The Gunness Mystery is the first documentary produced by the company.
In Late 2007, Stephen attended Bruce's Belle Gunness slideshow at the La Porte County Public Library. Stephen and Bruce met shortly after
and began planning to turn the slideshow into a documentary. The documentary has been a fun and challenging experience for Stephen, and he is glad to finally share it with an audience.
Matt Christy - Grip/Gaffer
Matt Christy is an aspiring writer who was born in Valparaiso, Indiana where he lived for 5 years before moving down the highway to the small town of Hanna. Matt attended South Central where he was a fourth grade student of Bruce Johnson’s. There he first learned of Belle Gunness which led to many sleepless nights in which he swore the vengeful ghost of the Scandinavian woman had risen from her grave to claim him. Thankfully, repeated screenings of Ghostbusters and sleeping near the phone put his mind at ease.
Years later, Matt attended Tribeca Flashpoint Academy where he studied film with a focus in screenwriting. He wrote the scripts for many short films while attending the school (“Freebird”, “Bloody Mary”, “The Hundred Page War”, “Cold Space” and more) and even dabbled in directing (“Lotto”). Matt met Stephen while attending Flashpoint where the two worked on “Confidence Men” together as well as “Blackout” and other projects. He appreciated the opportunity to help in anyway he could with the Documentary, hoping to spread the story to a new generation who, in turn, could be frightened as much as he was.