Indiana filmmaker’s short about femme serial killer

Ann Hagemann is killer Belle Gunness

A chilling true story of suspected serial husband killer Belle Gunness that happened more than 100 years ago in LaPorte, Indiana, is the subject of a short film by a combination of Chicago and Indiana producers.

“Belle: The Short” wrapped last week after five days of shooting exteriors at a Portage farmhouse, scenes inside the house’s turn of the century interiors, throughout Indiana and Three Oaks, Michigan.   

Director was Stephen Ruminski of LaPorte, who created the short and co-produced with Rob Roediger of Chicago. Matt Christy wrote the screenplay; DP was Ryan Juszkiewicz. Budget was under $50,000.

Belle Gunness in the late 1800s was one of the first known female serial killers, who may have slain at least 20 people, or more, including her husbands and children and burying them in her backyard.

She lured men to her farm with promises of a bright future. Those who came, whom she told to bring only cash, were never seen again. The story also highlights the troubled relationship between Belle and foster daughter, Jennie Olson.

Chicago actresses Ann Hagermann and Amanda Raudabaugh portray Belle and Jennie, respectively.

Ruminski came across the story through a Belle Gunness expert, Bruce Johnson, and together they produced an earlier documentary. As so often happens, Ruminski says, audience members asked him, “When will we see a feature?” which inspired the short film.

When completed, the 25-minute mystery drama will head for the festival circuit.