This is a timeline of events that happened before and after the death of Sylvia Likens. The first part of this timeline was created by a poster I knew name JerseyDevil. I appreciate his hard work on this. I have went through several newspaper articles and the trial transcripts to organize and simplify this information for everyone. You will notice that there is much more information on Gertrude's second trial and parole, because the transcripts from these hearings are not available.
1944 Betty and Lester Likens marry
1945 Gertrude quits school and marries John Baniszewski
January 3, 1949 Sylvia Marie Likens born
1963 Gertrude and John Baniszewski divorce
October 27, 1964 Gertrude hits Paula, John objects and she tells him "I will hit her anytime or way or place I please"
January 3, 1965 Sylvia turns 16, quits school
April 1965 Gertrude has miscarriage, Paula runs away to Kentucky to be with married man.
July 3, 1965 Betty arrested for shoplifting, Sylvia and Jenny eat dinner at 3850
July 4, 1965 Sylvia and Jenny go to Darlene McGuires house, meet Paula. Sylvia and Jenny invited to spend night at 3850, Shirley's 10 birthday.
July 5, 1965 Lester agrees to leave Sylvia and Jenny with Gertrude
July 11, 1965 Lesters payment late, Jenny gets slapped
July 14, 1965 Likens parents visit
July 17, 1965 Sylvia meets Stephanie who was living with father
3rd week July, 1965 Sylvia is paddled
Late July 1965 Ricky Hobbs visits 3850 for first time
August 1, 1965 Paula breaks her wrist punching Sylvia in the jaw
August 1965 Sylvia accused of stealing by Gertrude
Middle August 1965 Likens parents visit
August 18, 1965 Warrant issued for Gertrudes arrest for failing to pay paperboy
August 22, 1965 Sylvia, Jenny and Paula publicly confess being saved in church
August 26, 1965 Likens parents visit
August 27, 1965 Police visit 3850 to arrest Gertrude on paperboy warrant
End of August 1965 Vermillions move into 3848, soon after, Phyllis visits 3850 and witness Paula abusing Sylvia
Early September, 1965 Sylvia begans school at Arsenal Tech, works in cafeteria. Johhny Jr moves to 3850
September 1, 1965 Anna Siscoe and Sylvia fight, Anna kicks her in the stomach and Sylvia cries "Oh my baby"
September, 1965 Paula chokes Sylvia, Gertrude breaks them up then says "Let them fight"
September 10, 1965 Police visit 3850 to administer first aid to Marie, who cut her hand
Middle September, 1965 Paula takes Sylvia to back door and tells her "Get away and stay away. Get out for your own safety"
September 29, 1965 Gertrude pays fine for failing to pay paperboy and resisting arrest
September 30, 1965 Lester visits
October 1, 1965 Gertrude call family meeting "We all have to get along better"
October 5, 1965 Likens parents last visit, Lester gives Sylvia money for shoes and tells Gertrude they will be back in 3 weeks
October 6, 1965 Sylvia's last day at Arsenal Tech
October 12, 1965 Sylvia sent to basement for "not keeping herself clean" Its about this time that the scalding baths start, it also about this time that the cigarette burnings start
week of October 15, 1965 Mrs Vermillion visits for coffee, notices Sylvia's black eye and says Sylvia seemed in a daze, like she didn't care if she lived or died
October 15, 1965 Public Health Nurse Barbara Sanders visits 3850 ater Mike Monroe's mothers complaint of children running around with open, running sores.
October 19, 1965 Sylvia is forced to write letter to parents
October 20, 1965 Alleged attempted burglary at 3850 by neighbor who complains that the Baniszewski kids were stealing stuff from his basement.
October 22, 1965 Johnny gives Sylvia soup and tells her to eat it with her fingers.
October 23, 1965 Another Pepsi bottle incident. Ricky Hobbs visits and the branding occurs. John Sr visits 3850 to bring police dog. Sylvia is forced to write second letter.
October 25, 1965 Sylvia comes upstairs to take a bath, Stephanie sees branding for the first time. Gertrude swings paddle at Sylvia, missing her and giving herself a black eye. Coy visits and hits Sylvia with a broomstick, knocking her unconscious
October 26, 1965 Lester and Betty are in Florida when they receive phonecall informing them of Sylvias death
October 27, 1965 Betty and Lester arrive in Indianapolis to claim Sylvias body
October 29, 1965 Sylvias funeral
November 11, 1965 - Ricky Hobbs attends his mother's funeral
April 16, 1966 Prosecutors announced that they will seek the death penalty for all six killers in the case: Gertrude, Paula, Stephanie, John, Ricky, and Coy
April 25, 1966 It is announced that Stephanie will testify against her family.
May 2, 1966 Lester testifies at the trial
May 4, 1966 Jenny testifies at trial
May 6, 1966 Shirley testifies against her mother and siblings.
May 10, 1966 the state rests on the Sylvia Likens Case.
May 11, 1966 Gertrude proclaims her innocence and blames her children
May 12, 1966 Marie testifies for her mother and claims that Gertrude never hurt Sylvia and she breaks down on the stand saying “God help me”. She also changes her story on cross examination.
May 13, 1966 John Baniszewski Sr testifies.
May 17, 1966 Stephanie Baniszewski testifies against her family.
May 18, 1966 Closing Arguments are given.
May 19, 1966 Gertrude and Paula Baniszewski are sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder. John Baniszewski, Coy Hubbard, and Ricky Hobbs are sentenced 2-21 years in prison for manslaughter.
June 6, 1966 Stephanie is freed from being tried for murder by the grand jury
December 22, 1967 Coy Hubbard, John Baniszewski, and Ricky Hobbs have their parole approved.
September 8, 1970 The indiana supreme court grants new trial for Gertrude and Paula Baniszewski.
~Prejudicial atmosphere surrounding case.Judge Rabb’s refusal to change venue.
~Judge Rabb’s refusal to declare a mistrial due to prejudicial atmosphere.
~Judge Rabb’s denial of requests for a separate trials for the defendants.
May 19 or 20th 1971 Trial is moved to Miami Circuit court. Webmaster note: the article is unclear as to what exact date this was ordered. The article was printed on the 20th, so it was likely done on the 19th.
July 13, 1971 James Manahan withdraws as Paula’s lawyer. Judge dice refused to comment on this issue. Manahan claims he was replaced by his political opponent.
July 21, 1971 Jury selection is complete in second murder trial.
July 26, 1971 Gertrude Baniszewski trial starts.
July 28, 1971 Betty Likens testifies.
July 29, 1971 Hubbard and Leppar Testify. Coy admits abuse on the stand. Leppar admits he struck Sylvia 30-40 times.
July 30, 1971 Pathologist testifies. He does not change his testimony about time of death.
July 30, 1971 John Baniszewski testifies, and admits he still loves Gertrude. He also admits to beating Sylvia several times. Gertrude actually shows emotion over this.
July 30, 1971 Richard Hobbs testified. When asked if he feels bad he says, “What difference does it make.” He also looked emaciated from cancer according to reporter.
August 3, 1971 Jenny Likens/Ford testifies and admits she never tried to get help for Sylvia. She also talks about how Sylvia told her she is gonna die. Jenny also testified that Lester told Gertrude to straighten them out and use a firm hand, but Jenny said, he did not tell her to kill us.
August 3, 1971 The defence puts on their only witness Gertrude Baniszewski. Gertrude denies all involvement and blames drugs. When asked if the children lied she said, “they would have had too”. She blames her asthma meds again.
August 4, 1971 Jury hears closing remarks.
August 5, 1971 Jury finds Gertrude Baniszewski guilty of second degree murder again. It took the Jury only two and a half hours to find her guilty a second time. She is sentenced again to life in prison. Gertrude shows no emotion when the verdict is read, but the reporter said her hands were twitching nervously.
August 20, 1971 Paula Baniszewski changes plea from not guilty to guilty to second degree murder. Judge dice sentences her to two 21 year terms.
December 2, 1971 Paula Baniszewski escapes prison with another inmate they are caught December 20, 1971.
January 2, 1972 Ricky Hobbs dies of lung cancer.
March, 6 1974 Paula is released from prison on parole
September 28, 1975 As Gertrude Baniszewski comes close to ten years in prison, she starts to discuss clemency with her lawyer.
November 17, 1975 is set as a date for Gertrude Baniszewski to change her name.
August 6, 1976 Gertrude Baniszewski is denied parole the first time, and she gives an interview claiming she is not ready. She also gives an interview that she is writing a book named “The truth shall set you free.” She also glorifies prison life talking about privileges like tv, the opportunity to improve themselves. and recreational activities. She also discusses her children and says she is in touch with them and they have good lives.
September 16, 1985 petition to stop Gertrude Baniszewski parole is presented to the parole board.
October 25, 1985 A crime victim lobbying group tries to stop Gertrudes parole. Also Jenny and another victim’s right group file a complaint about the Open Door Law to stop Gertrude Baniszewski’s parole.
October 28, 1985 Gertrude Baniszeski’s parole is delayed by new hearing, and Judge Dudgan throws the parole board's decision out. Gertrude Baniszewski gets prepared to appeal the decision, but is said to have had no reaction to the news.
November 6, 1985 Parole board has its first open meeting.
November 15, 1985 President Reagan declared, in a letter written by Assistant Attorney General, he is powerless in Baniszewski parole case after being contacted by victims rights groups.
November 28, 1985 victims rights group attempt to delay hearing about Gertrude Baniszewski’s parole hearing set for December 3, 1985. They wanted at least forty days for preparation, and they were demanding access to Gertrude court documents.
December 3, 1985 Parole board re-votes to let Gertrude Baniszewski out saying she is no longer a threat to society.
December 4, 1985 Gertrude Baniszewski is released from prison on parole
December 6, 1985 Victims advocacy group establishes a fund to aid the Likens family.
January 16, 1990 Gertrude died in obscurity.
May 29, 1998 Betty Likens dies.
August 3, 1999 the decomposed body of Benny Ray Likens is found. He died of an apparent heart attack. After serving in the military, he was diagnosed as schizophrenic and chose to stay to himself. He was Jenny Likens twin brother. Lester was trying to contact his son at the time he was found dead. The letter was returned deceased.
April 3, 1999 The suitcase of sorrow article is released. It is unknown as to the exact contents of this suitcase, but it had letters of sympathy to Betty Likens and baby pictures of Sylvia. There was a letter to Betty from Jenny with a clipping of Gertrude’s obituary. The note said, “Some good news damn old Gerttie died. ”
June 23, 2004 Jenny Fay Likens Wade dies of a heart attack.
June 23, 2007 Coy Hubbard dies
October 31, 2007 John Blake Sr dies
October 17, 2012 An anonymous caller identifies Paula Blake as Paula Baniszewski who was convicted in the Sylvia Likens case. Paula is suspended and fired a week later. The case receives national attention.
February 22, 2013 Lester Likens dies.