(CONRAD, Iowa) — An Iowa teacher’s aide has been fired from her job following the revelation that she was a member of an Indiana family notorious for torturing and killing a girl in their basement in 1965.
“A week ago today we got an anonymous report that the now Paula Pace was the previous Paula Baniszewski involved in this 1965 murder case in Indiana and it was a real attention-seeker out there, a heinous crime,” Grundy County Sheriff Rick Penning told ABC News Wednesday.
Paula Baniszewski was 17 years old in the summer of 1965 when a 16-year-old girl named Sylvia Likens and her sister came to stay with Baniszewski’s family. In the months that followed, Likens was beaten, burned, malnourished and branded with a hot needle. Her body was found in the basement of the home in October of that year.
The case became one of the most infamous crimes in Indiana and has been the subject of several books and movies.
Baniszewski’s mother Gertrude Baniszewski was convicted of first-degree murder and Paula Baniszewski was found guilty of second-degree murder for her participation in the torture. Several other family members were also convicted.
Paula Baniszewski appealed her conviction and ultimately pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She served time and was released from prison in 1972. She completed her parole and moved to Iowa.
Baniszewski, now 64, has been going by the name Paula Pace and has worked for the BCLUW school district in Conrad, Iowa, since 1998. She had done some custodial work and was most recently working as a teacher’s aide for special needs students.
Recently, information about Pace’s true identity began circulating around Facebook and an anonymous tipster called police to tell them they should look into her background. Police immediately notified the school and both began doing background checks.
Pace’s birth date matched Baniszewski’s and a current photo of her beared a striking resemblance to the 1965 mugshot.
“The superintendent had called her in and she admitted to it, so she was suspended,” Penning said.
The school called a special meeting of the school board on Tuesday and the seven-member board unanimously voted to fire Baniszewski.
“Paula Pace’s employment was terminated at a board meeting yesterday,” superintendent Ben Petty told ABC News. “Her employment was terminated for providing false information on her application.”
Petty would not comment further on how she was able to lie on her application.
Penning said that Baniszewski is not facing any criminal charges and the matter is between her and the school.
Baniszewski could not be reached for comment. An Iowa phone number listed for Pace had been disconnected.
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