Sylvia Marie Likens (January 3, 1949 – October 26, 1965) was an American teenager who was tortured and murdered by her caregiver, Gertrude Baniszewski, many of Baniszewski's children, and several of their neighborhood friends. This abuse incrementally lasted for three months before Likens died from her extensive injuries and malnourishment on October 26, 1965, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
By June 1965, Sylvia and Jenny Likens resided with their parents in Indianapolis. On July 3, their mother was arrested and subsequently jailed for shoplifting. Shortly thereafter, Lester Likens arranged for his daughters to board with Gertrude Baniszewski, the mother of two girls with whom the sisters had recently become acquainted while studying at Arsenal Technical High School, Paula and Stephanie Baniszewski. At the time of this boarding agreement, Gertrude assured Lester she would care for his daughters until his return as if they were her own children.
Shortly after the July 4th holiday, the sisters moved into 3850 East New York Street in order for their father and, later, their mother to travel to the East Coast with the carnival, with the understanding that Gertrude would receive weekly boarding fees of $20 to care for their daughters until they returned to collect Sylvia and Jenny in November of that year.
During the initial weeks in which Sylvia and Jenny resided at the Baniszewski household, the sisters were subjected to very little discipline or abuse. Likens regularly sang along to pop records with Stephanie, and she willingly participated in housework at the Baniszewski residence. Both girls also regularly attended Sunday school with the Baniszewski children, with the pastor commending Sylvia's piety.
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