Serial Killer: Glennon Engleman

I travelled to St. Louis, and as I am want to do, I looked up some crime figures and scenes while I was there. One of the more interesting characters was Glennon Engleman, also known as The Killer Dentist.

Some people place Engleman in the serial killer category, while others place him in the hit man category.  I think he can sit well in either one.

Basically, Engleman had a habit of involving himself with women then killing their husbands for insurance money. He also killed people who crossed him in some way. The fact that money was often involved means that he was possibly motivated by money. But, he was not a hit man for hire. He orchestrated the killings, using the women for sex and as accomplices. Was he motivated by the thrill of the kill? Sex? Money? or all three?

Glennon Engleman was born on Feb. 6, 1927, in St. Louis, Mo. He was credited with 5 to 7 murders, perhaps as many as 12, possibly starting with James Bullock, in 1958.

Bullock was the husband of Glennon’s ex-wife Edna. It is believed that Edna and Glennon cooked up the scheme, where Edna married Bullock, then Engleman murdered him, and Edna received $64,000 in insurance money.

In 1963, Engleman is suspected of killing Eric Frey. He knocked Frey down a well, and then blew him up with dynamite. It was called an accident. Engleman and Frey were business partners, but again there was an insurance pay out, and Engleman shared the money with Frey’s widow.

Engleman then killed a man named Peter Halm. Halm’s wife had been a dental assistant for Engleman, and hired him to kill Halm for his life insurance, in 1976.

A year later, Engleman killed 3 people in Illinois; Arthur and Vernita Gusewelle, and their son Ronald. Ronald’s wife, Barbara, was set to collect on the insurance and business wealth from all three deaths. She ended up being convicted of murder along with another accomplice Robert Handy.

Engleman also killed Sophie Barrera because of a business dispute. He blew her up in her car. This was the murder, which brought the law down on his head.

Engleman was a dentist, and he operated a dentist office in the 4600 block of Gravois Avenue in St. Louis, Mo. I drove down there and tried to see if I could find the exact building. But, I could not. Gravois Avenue is miles long, and is block after block of low slung, 2 to 3 story buildings, all of which could serve as a dentist’s office.

Engleman was well known in the neighborhood. It was said, that he would give free dental care to the people who could not afford it in that section of town.

Police had been suspicious of Engleman since the murder of James Bullock in 1958. It took till 1980, and his 3rd wife snitching on him, to finally catch him. He was found guilty of murder, and received 2 life sentences. Then, in 1985 he pleaded guilty to killing the Gusewelle family.

Engleman is documented in the book “Appointment for Murder” by Susan Crain Bakos, and is loosely portrayed in the 1996 film “The Dentist” starring Corbin Bernson.

Engleman died in prison in Missouri in March of 1999. He died of complications from diabetes.

Sources and further reading:

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