Between the beaches, national parks, vineyards and theme parks, California has plenty of tourist draw cards, but now an unlikely attraction has made the list — the home of a serial killer.
The boarding house run by Dorothea Puente, a Sacramento woman convicted of killing her elderly residents, became a tourist attraction when the city decided to add the building to its local tour of featured and historic homes.
Although the building has undergone some updates in the three decades since the gruesome murders, visitors are still able to see the room where the killer drained the body fluids from her elderly victims.While the home of a serial killer may seem like a strange attraction to visit during a vacation, macabre tourist sites are nothing new. Here are a couple other dark attractions that visitors flock to:
Choeung Ek. More than one million people were slaughtered during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, and Choeung Ek is one of the most well known Killing Fields. Nearly 9,000 bodies are buried in mass graves here, and visitors can see a giant glass memorial filled with 5,000 human skulls.
Auschwitz. This World War II concentration camp in Poland saw the deaths of more than 1 million prisoners at the hands of the Nazis. Each year, millions of visitors pass through the gates of the memorial and museum located at the site.
Fukushima Nuclear Reactor. It’s not quite an attraction yet, but a proposal is being considered to turn this Japanese disaster site into a tourist destination. Tourists would stay in hotels designed to protect them from high levels of radiation and would be able to take photos of the reactor while dressed in protective suits and respirators.
When the cruise ship Costa Concordia was grounded off the coast of Italy, the blame fell on Captain Vincent Schettino, practically convicted by the court of popular opinion. In July, Schettino will go on trial. Meanwhile, a Moldovian dancer who was on the ship has problems of her own
At the time of the event, we met Domnica Cemortan, 26, a former cruise ship “hostess” and dancer from Mondolvia. It was said in a variety of publications that Cemoran was having dinner at the time with Schettino and somehow wound up on the bridge. Now, Cemortan is suing Schettino and the cruise line for damages of $280,000-$420,000 over the $15,000 being offered to all who sailed.
“The media has presented her as a prostitute,” insists Gianluca Madonna, Cemortan’s Italian lawyer. Apparently, at the time of the accident, Cemortan told investigators that she was “in love” with Schettino, a suggestion she later told the UK’s Daily Telegraph that she rejected, reports Travel Blackboard.
Cemortan is now seeking damages against Schettino and the cruise line for failing to defend and rehire her. She might also go after several Italian newspapers, magazines and TV channels who she says “slandered her reputation for suggesting she had been involved with the captain.”Strangely associated with Cemortan’s complaint is that there was an hour and a half delay in receiving the key to her room. When she got it, her stateroom was on the same private floor as Schettino’s room, an area of the ship normally reserved for crew members.
“She is a hard worker and is a beautiful dancer, very professional,” said attorney Madonna, insisting his client had done nothing wrong and had “risked her life helping Russian passengers because there was no one on board who spoke Russian.”
Since the accident, Cemortan has not worked regularly and the cruise line did not renew her contract.
Not sure what the dance style used by a nice Moldovian girl would look like? Here you go:
Costa Concordia grounded off the coast of Italy in January 2012, where the cruise ship still sits today. Removal of the ship is a well-defined work in progress, now over halfway complete. Placing blame for the grounding, which resulted in the death of 32 people, is also coming into focus. Last week, Italian maritime authorities released a 176-page official report that documents much of what we already knew and verifies some suspicions.
Captain Francesco Schettino, 53, is blamed for causing the accident and delaying the evacuation. He is charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship. The report verifies that Schettino was in command of the vessel when it hit rocks off the coast of Tuscany.
OK, Maybe I Did Not Fall Into A Life Boat
Initially, Schettino had said that he “tripped and fell into a life boat,” rather than abandoning his ship. It was a claim he stuck to for months, vowing to clear his name.
“Soon I will reveal the shocking truth,” said Schettino in our report Captain Of Wrecked Cruise Ship Cries Foul, Says He’s Innocent. “And then all those people who denigrated me will have to apologize, not to me but to the families of the victims and to the public, which was conned with false information.”
That apology probably won’t be coming any time soon. According to the report, Schettino boarded a lifeboat leaving 300 passengers on board and was on land while 80 people were still on the ship, fighting for their lives.
The Captain Is Responsible, Like It Or Not
The report also highlights some serious communication problems, tagging Schettino for blame. One of he most serious: the Italian Coast Guard was not advised of the grounding by the ship, finding out only after being advised by a passenger’s mother.
Other elements of the incident, directly attributable to Schettino:
The grounding happened by sailing too fast and too close to shore
Delayed sounding the general alarm
Unauthorized people on the bridge were distracting him
Failed to consult large scale maps, causing him to use the wrong landmark on the island of Giglio to turn the ship
Minimized the seriousness of the accident to the coast guard
At one point in the aftermath of the Costa Concordia grounding, Schettino insisted that he saved thousands of lives by steering the ship toward shore where it eventually grounded. According to the detailed report, that would not have been possible as the ship’s rudder was not working at the time.
Other officers on Costa Concordia at the time have alleged blame too, mainly for allowing Schettino to make misleading “everything is just fine” announcements to passengers. His business-as-usual attitude apparently caused crew members to lose valuable time performing emergency duties.
Schettino denies the charges, but in May it was decided that there was enough evidence to try him for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship while 4,200 passengers and crew were still aboard.
On the bright side, cruise travel has never been safer.