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Torture Mom

A Chilling True Story of Confinement, Mutilation and Murder (True Crime)
Narrated by: Steve White
Length: 3 hrs and 50 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, True Crime
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In July 1965, teenagers Sylvia and Jenny Likens were left in the temporary care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a middle-aged single mother, and her seven children. 

The Baniszewski household was overrun with children. There were few rules and ample freedom. Sadly, the environment created a dangerous hierarchy of social Darwinism where the strong preyed on the weak. 

What transpired in the following three months was both riveting and chilling.

In October 1965, the body of Sylvia Likens was found in the basement of the Baniszewski home, where she had been imprisoned. She was starved, beaten, burned, and had the words "I am a prostitute and proud of it" carved into her stomach. 

Gertrude Baniszewski oversaw and facilitated the torture and eventual murder of Sylvia Likens. While she played an active role in Sylvia's death, the majority of the abuse was carried out by her children and other neighborhood youths.

The case shocked the entire nation and would later be described as "The single worst crime perpetuated against an individual in Indiana's history".

Caution: This audiobook contains descriptive accounts of abuse and violence. If you are especially sensitive to this material, it might be advisable not to listen any further.

©2018 Ryan Green (P)2018 Ryan Green

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Profile Image for Victoria Haugen
  • Victoria Haugen
  • 01-10-2018

Sad, Angry... Lot of Emotions

Wow, I can't even fathom doing to ANY LIVING CREATURE what Gertrude Baniszewski did to young Sylvia Likens. It's gripping, horrific, and makes me really mad. But, sad thing is, it's not so uncommon, it happens a lot - did then and still does now. That's the really scary part.

This woman and those who are responsible for this unspeakable act deserve a place in Hell, and I'm glad they're there.
Very well written and well narrated book - I've read, listened to or watched stories about many horrific things, and this one is one that will haunt you. It's hard to hear, but needs to be told. I long for a world where this crap doesn't happen.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
Please take a moment to click the "YES" ("Helpful") button below if you found this review helpful :) Thank you!

33 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for cafurg
  • cafurg
  • 14-08-2018

Unimaginably Tragic

This is the story of Sylvia Likens of Indianapolis, Indiana in the 1960s. She was brutally, brutally, brutally, tortured and murdered for no reason whatsoever. I feel that it is important to say her name. I live in Indy and have known this story all my life. This book has a slightly different perspective, so it was interesting to kind of get the back story of the adult murderous ringleader. I refuse to state her name, although I will never forget it. Sylvia suffered horrendously basically due to what began as shallow jealously. How, and why, the neighborhood kids came over and joined in, is beyond me. The penalties for these people were either non-existent or extremely lenient. None of the perpetrators should have ever seen the light of day. It is a difficult story, but Sylvia deserves for the truth to be told. The narration was smooth and easy to follow.
Rest in Peace, Dear Sylvia.
-I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.

15 people found this helpful

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  • R. MCRACKAN
  • 21-05-2019

Not for everyone

I read a lot of true crime and I'm used to encountering depraved violence. However, most of those instances are against teens and adults, not young children. And it's usually 1 victim after another, not continued brutality toward 1 person. This book was extremely uncomfortable to listen to.

The author injects a lot of unsettling details to flesh out and humanize the abuse. To some extent there's probably something wrong with a writer (and narrator) who produces these embellishments but I sure am glad he has an outlet with non-fiction crime novels. I was starting to suspect that the author was enjoying himself a bit too much so I did just a few web searches to make sure this wasn't merely his twisted fantasy. Sure enough, this wretched case is true and it appears to be every inch as messed up as this book depicts. Maybe I was just hoping it was the product of a sick writer. The reality that this woman perpetrated such sadism makes you question your belief in goodness.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Teresa Noel
  • 17-09-2018

buckle up for this ride

Over the years I have read many articles, books, and seen websites on the Sylvia Likens case. This is one of the most horrible torture deaths I have heard of. I listened to this book straight through. I just cannot believe anyone could be so horrible at what this woman is responsible for.

Ryan Green has done an amazing job with this book. Laying out the facts that are no known.

Steve White narrated thus story and kept me enthralled and a little sick to my stomach with this book.

I was given this title at my request and chose to leave this review.

8 people found this helpful

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  • jstep
  • 13-08-2018

Simply unbelievable how beyond cruel people can be

Torture Mom by Ryan Green left me pretty speechless. The fact that it's a true story is just...wow. I know the book has a warning that if you're sensitive to descriptive account of abuse and violence then you may not want to listen to this story is a well placed warning. I love true crime, horror, suspense, etc. and this was just over the top. Gertrude Baniszewski is pure evil, plain and simple. What she did, and allowed and encouraged others to do to poor Sylvia and Jenny Likens is just reprehensible beyond anything I can even describe. While listening, I was thinking of the psychological affect that she had on her children and the other kids that she allowed and encouraged to torture Sylvia and I'm just speechless. It's difficult to listen to, but if you want a true crime story that will really get under your skin, this is the book you want to listen to.

Steve White did a good job narrating this audiobook. I simply don't have a complaint. Did his narration blow me away? No, but this wasn't a book where the narration allowed the reader to really show off narration skills. He did a good job and I had no problem following along and enjoying the listen, as well as one can "enjoy" this type of story. I'd listen to narrations of his in the future. I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher for an honest review.

Did you find this review helpful? If so, would you please take a moment and select the 'helpful' button below? Thanks so much!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Gabrielle
  • 04-09-2018

Torture Mom

When a sadistic and mentally unstable woman takes in a pair of poor and homeless sister’s the chaos and the horror begins. Life has never been easy for the Likens sisters, but it turns into Hell when they are taken in to the Baniszewski house. Soon the daily torture that Sylvia has to deal with becomes too much and her body is found mutilated and emaciated and thrown into the basement of the home. When the truth comes out the Baniszewski family is put on trail and judged for their crimes. This is a disturbing tale of what pain one woman can inflict and teach others to do. The horrible truth of what the poor girl had to endure is a painful to read. One can never understand what drives people to do such things. What Sylvia endures was beyond torture and humiliation but must be told so that people will recognize the signs and be human enough to step up and question things before something like this happens again. Narrator Steve White does a good job of bringing the facts of this story to life. He speaks clearly and at a good pace. This story is a hard tale to listen to but hopefully we will learn from it.

I received this audiobook at my request and I voluntarily wrote a review.

4 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Polly Poizendem
  • Polly Poizendem
  • 04-08-2019

Heartbreaking Horror . . .

As the title implies, this is indeed a sad case of torture, in very graphic detail. The listener will be more than surprised to learn how long this had gone on for, as I was. Although many were in on it and had participated, surprisingly no one that could save the girl from abuse was made aware, or even slightly suspicious. This is a hard one to get through - hard to listen to - yet hard to NOT listen to. Wow. Of the hundreds of true crime books I’ve read, it’s one of the most shocking, for sure.

The author did an excellent job at making you feel like a fly on the wall during all the events that took place, and the narrator was great! I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion - it was quite well done - and it will definitely leave you gasping in disbelief. All the way to the very unexpected outcome!!!

3 people found this helpful

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  • timj26
  • 28-05-2019

<br />Excellent

Ryan has quickly become my go to for true crime
This real life horror story is based on testimony from the trial
As brutal as this is I can only imagine what Sylvia’s side would uncover
Steve’s narration is fantastic once again highly recommended
I received a free review audiobook and voluntarily left this review

5 people found this helpful

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  • Simone
  • 14-04-2019

Depraved

I consume a lot of true crime content and rarely am I shook by something I read or hear. I've even heard this story before, and upon the retelling by Ryan Green, I was freshly and deeply disturbed. If you're sensitive to child abuse, you'll definitely want to avoid this book. Sylvia Likens is about as likable of a young woman as one could find. That doesn't stop (and perhaps is one of the reasons why) Gertrude Baniszewski and her band of violent children from torturing her until she ultimately dies. This is a heartbreaking tale about the worst of what human depravity has to offer. I found it fascinating and horrifying how easily Gert was able to manipulate the children around her into doing unspeakable things. This is a study in real world terror. Steve White gives a really good performance.

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

1 person found this helpful

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  • wdarling
  • 17-03-2019

Really hard to listen to

This is an incredibly sad story to listen to. The torture of this young girl is hard to fathom, much less read about in detail. Gertrude was a monster, along with her children and I can’t imagine how the whole family went along with and participated in this torture.
Well written and narrated. The only thing I’m really taking away from listening to this book is that monsters are indeed real and walk amongst us.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Karen
  • Karen
  • 09-08-2018

Shocking

Im not sure how to describe this book, I would recommend it to fans of true crime, but I was thankful for the warning given to me by the author before I listened to it

It is a truely shocking book, and really hard to listen to in places, at times I felt physically sick. It is very graphic

How a mum, or another human can cause this sort of suffering to a child is beyond me, and to have the sort of control over others, to be able to get them to keep quite and even participate.

Sylvia was let down by so many people, it really is heart breaking

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review

6 people found this helpful

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  • Selina ryles
  • 16-11-2019

truly unnerving and harrowing

I had not heard of this true story before reading / listening to this book. It is a great length to be listened to in one sitting and I was eager to start. From the offset it became apparent just how much research the author had carried out to provide readers with the smallest of details. Yes its hard to listen to at times due to the nature of the crime committed - but it is truly harrowing and will stay in your mind for a long time after the last page has been read. She was just evil in the finest form - pure evil . I was given this book by the author/narrator in return for an honest and unbiased review

1 person found this helpful

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  • claire fellows
  • 15-12-2019

ok

was interested as to how a person can do this to a child or another person .but never gave full explanation as to why it happened. so a bit let down .

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Profile Image for Elizabeth Frounks
  • Elizabeth Frounks
  • 13-11-2019

Graphic but Captivating

As others have said, this is a really graphic tale. One that is difficult to understand and comprehend at times. It boggles the mind how someone can treat another person like this, how they can treat their own child like this.
Perhaps it is an idea to be honest with how strong your stomach is, this isn't for the faint of heart.

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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  • Lynne
  • 13-11-2019

Far too much detail for me. Very disturbing.

I just couldn't finish this book, it was far too graphic and disturbing for me. I just couldn't listen any longer to the prolonged torture of that poor girl Sylvia. It was horrific what those evil people did to that girl and her family. Too much detail in the book that made me really upset.

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  • Lou Calverley
  • 29-10-2019

Excellent true crime book.

I was giving this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

This book is both disturbing and gripping. Perfect for anyone who is interested in true crime. The story is a familiar one however the amount of information the book covers is vast and although the tail can be sometimes difficult to listen to purely due to the nature of the crime, both the author and narrator do a fantastic job with this book and it does keep you hooked till the very end.

I can’t say enough good things about the narrator of this, he is well chosen and does the book justice.

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Profile Image for Ostfeld
  • Ostfeld
  • 27-05-2019

Another question been answered.

Why America?
Growing in The United States I always wondered why %90 of all Serial Murderers are Americans, it’s true that Jack the Ripper which was British and never been caught was the first documented one that I’ve heard of but the nesting place for pretty much all is still the U.S. and I always felt that Ryan Green the author could supply the answer to my question.

As usual Green expertise in research, filling in the gaps and turning it all into a readable story is unmatched.
It took me two days after listening to this audiobook to relax enough to be able to review this gruesome story.
What I take from this story is at least two realizations:
The first is simple, beside all the people that knew and done nothing, the system itself failed, the social workers where created especially for cases like this!
The second is awful as Green perfectly showed in this story that even if the evil was caught he or she can leave inheritances behind to continue their work which can continue for generations.

About this audiobook which is so different from all of Ryan Green books because it got nothing to do with serial killers and I still can’t decide which is worse?
I do believe that it could have became eventually a Serial Murder case if the authorities would have kept not paying attention which was so close.

My recommendation:
If you got the stomach for real crimes, this one is a must!


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Profile Image for Ann fairhurst
  • Ann fairhurst
  • 07-05-2019

Torture mom

Quite predictable, became a Little Monominous. Would have liked to have changed the voice too, not much empathy

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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Liz
  • Liz
  • 08-03-2019

painfully true

This book is a catalogue of things that killed an innocent child it's sad that so much damage can be being done under the noses of so many and no-one picked up on anything was going. The fact that so many people were involved in abusing this child and yet it wasn't found until after she had died is scandalous.

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Profile Image for Rowan Alan Pelan O'Treasaigh
  • Rowan Alan Pelan O'Treasaigh
  • 16-02-2019

narration?

basically narrated by a automated text to speak program. flat monotone and awful.could go more than 30 seconds