Iowa teacher’s aide fired for leaving a detail off her resume — her role in the 1965 torture death of a teen girl
Paula Pace’s victim died from a brain hemorrhage and extreme malnutrition. School board boots her following emergency meeting after they learn shocking details of manslaughter conviction.
Paula Pace was fired from her job as a teacher’s aide at a central Iowa high school after her former life as Paula Banizewski came to light. As a teenager, she pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 1965 death of a 16-year-old girl who was beaten, tortured and locked in a basement until she died.
A teacher’s aide in central Iowa was fired after the school board learned that she was involved in the horrifying torture killing of a teenage girl decades ago.
Paula Pace was “a sweet lady” who “helped out any student she could” at BCLUW High School in Conrad, former student Thaddeus Lawler told the Des Moines Register.
But before she was Paula Pace, she was Paula Baniszewski. She spent two years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter for the 1965 murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens.
An anonymous tipster informed the BCLUW School District about Pace’s previous life last week, and she was fired Tuesday night after an emergency board meeting.
Superintendent Ben Petty would only say that Pace, 64, lied on her resume when she applied to work for the district 14 years ago.
Sylvia Likens and her sister Jenny were put in the care of Pace’s mother, Gertrude Baniszewski, in 1965 while her parents traveled with a carnival running a concession cart.
Baniszewski was already caring for her seven children, including 17-year-old Paula, at her home near Indianapolis.
She started physically abusing the girls when a payment for taking care of them showed up late, according to the Register.
The abuse escalated to Sylvia being paddled, burned with matches and forced into a tub of scalding hot water to “cleanse her sins.”
Paula would help to discipline the girl and her sister when her mother was too weak from asthma.
Baniszewski invited neighborhood kids to come to the house to beat Sylvia, and forced the teen girl to perform sex acts in front of them.
Sylvia was eventually forced to live in the basement of Baniszewski’s home, living only on crackers. She died on Oct. 26, 1965 from a combination of brain hemorrhaging, shock and extreme malnutrition.
Baniszewski was convicted of first-degree murder. Paula was convicted of second-degree murder, but got a retrial and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She spent two years behind bars.
After she was freed, she changed her name to Paula Pace and moved to Iowa.
Forrest Bowman Jr., the attorney who represented Baniszewski’s brother John who was also charged, told the Register it was “very sad” that Pace was fired from her job, saying what she did as a teenager shouldn’t have repercussions nearly 50 years later.
“The issue, I suppose, should be: Has she been doing an adequate job?” he said.
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