Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mothers who kill again and again

While I do not contest the existence of SIDS and other horrible genetic thingys which take the lives of little humans, I fail to see how four children, aged between a few weeks and three and a half years, can all die without warning. Children do not just die of congential defects. There are symptoms, warning of their impending fate. There is even some evidence that symptoms can be seen in SIDS babies, at least in hindsight.

It's one of those things which I simply find unbelievable. How could you kill your own children? Tiny babies. Again and again? Marybeth Tinning and Kathleen Folbigg did it.
Here are Marybeth and Kathleen's stories:

Marybeth Tinning

She looks evil even in photos.

The staff at the local emergency department were very familiar with Marybeth. She would come in with one of her children in her arms, dead or dying. Some hated her, some pitied her. Over 13 years 9 children of Marybeth's died.

One child, Jennifer, died of an infection. She was the first Tinning child to die. Doctors would blame genetic heart defects, SIDS, an unidentified genetic disorder for the other deaths. This had to be thrown into question when Michael died. Michael was Marybeth's fifth child. He was also adopted. Yet authorities did not question the Tinning children's deaths for many more years, not until after the death of her ninth child, Tami Lynne. Not until eight innocent children had lost their lives at the hands of their mother.

Marybeth eventually admitted to smothering her children. Her husband Joe seems to have not particularly cared either way - he couldn't even remember some of the childrens' names.

For Marybeth the motive seems to have been Munchausens by Proxy - she liked the attention given to a grieving mother. She enjoyed it after Jennifer died, so she thought she would repeat it. Again and again.

She was only charged with the death of Tami Lynne, as there was not enough evidence in the other cases.

Kathleen Folbigg

Kathleen Folbigg's first child Caleb died in February 1989, at just 20 days old. The official cause of death was SIDS.

Patrick Folbigg managed to live to be six months old before he too succumbed to SIDS. Sarah Folbigg made it to 11 months before SIDS claimed her life too. Laura lived even longer - she made it to 19 months. But she was too old for SIDS. The coroner referred the case to the police.

After Laura's death Kathleen and Craig Folbigg separated. Kathleen left many of her belongings behind. While cleaning up, Craig found a diary. Which, when he read it's contents, made him "want to vomit".

Kathleen felt neglected when the babies came along - the attention had shifted from her to the baby, and she didn't like it. It was like some morbid jealousy. She also had a furious temper, that she would take out on the baby if they did not do as she wished. She wrote in her diary of Laura:

"She's a fairly good-natured baby - thank goodness, it has saved her from the fate of her siblings. I'm sure she's met everyone and they've told her, don't be a bad or sickly kid, mum may, you know, crack. They've warned her - good."

During the police investigation, it emerged that Kathleen's father had killed her mother. Kathleen went to an orphanage and was adopted. Maybe it was in the genes. She wrote in her diary "Maybe I am my father's daughter".

Maybe she is just a selfish, selfish woman who should never have had children.

Read about Kathleen here and Marybeth here.

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