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Marybeth Tinning

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Parents Who Kill

Marie Noe

Melissa Drexsler

Christina Riggs

Domestic Homicide

Infanticide is the homicide of an infant more than one day old. Parents may kill as a result of psychotic delusions, profound depression. Vengeance or rage against the other parent is the most common reason father's commit infanticide.

Statistically, the US ranks high for levels of infanticide. For infants under the age of 1 year, the American homicide rate is 11th in the world, for ages 1 - 4 it is 1st and for ages 5 - 14 it is 4th. Has been practiced on every continent, by people on every level of cultural complexity, including our ancestors. In many societies, customary infanticide was permitted. Due to sex-selective infanticide, female infanticide was more common than the killing a male, since females couldn't carry on the family name, do heavy agricultrual work or go to war.

The Death of Innocents: authors, Richard Firstman and Jamie Talan, contend serial crib-death cases should be considered possible murders.

A parent is the perpetrator in most homicides of children under age five. Of the murdered children under age five between 1976 and 2005: 31% were killed by fathers, 29% were killed by mothers, 23% were killed by male acquaintances, 7% were killed by other relatives and 3% were killed by strangers. Of those children killed by someone other than their parent, 81% were killed by males. The number of homicides of children under age 5 increased through the mid 1990's, but decined in the 2000's. Infanticide rates for black children declined, and for white and other racial groups stayed relatively stable. The younger the child, the greater the risk for infanticide.

The history of infanticide and a resource for researchers in the criminal, medical, and gender history: Infanticide: Historical Perspectives on on Child Murder and Concealment, 1550-2000

Maryland Jury and Infanticide Discussion - A colonial jury in 1656, made up entirely of women, acquitted an accused Maryland woman of infanticide.

Infanticide in Animal Kingdoms -- Primates -- Norway Rats --

Moms Who Kill: When Depression Turns Deadly --Postpartum mood disorders are more common than we realize. From 50 to 80 percent of women experience "baby blues" typically begining three to four days after birth lasting for up to a coupe weeks. If it lasts longr, it may be postpartum depression (PPD), a mood disorder similar to clinical depression that 12 to 16 percent of women experience. PPD causes feelings of despondency, inadequacy, impaired concentration, memory loss and lack of interest in pleasurable in activities. A drastice decline in estrogen and progesterone following delivery may be the cause. Women with caesarean deliveries are more susceptible to mood disorders. Loss of a loved one, marital conflict or lack of financial security, put some women at greater risk. Thyroid levels dropping after birth, are associated with depression symptoms. A personal or family history of mood disorders also increases the odds of developing PPD. Purephrial psychosis, the rarest form of Post Partum illness, affects 1% - 3% of all new mothers, 70 percent have no history of psychiatric illness. About four percent of the women who become psychotic kill their babies.

Mothers suffering from profound depression differ from teens who kill their newborns and mothers who neglect or abuse their children. They often provide unheeded warnings and attempt suicide.


The laws regarding "feticide" (the killing of the unborn) vary from state to state. At least 38 US states introduced fetal homicide laws intended to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent attacks by third parties are increasingly being used against the women.

Bei Bei Shuai, 34, moved from China to the US a decade earlier. Living in Indianapolis, she was the owner of a restaurant and planned to marry her boyfriend. A few days after she found out her boyfriend was really married and leaving her, she swallowed rat poison pellets. She gave birth to a daughter, but the four pound newborn suffered seizures and died four days later. After she spent a month on a psych ward recovering and grieving, she was arrested and locked up.

Rennie Gibbs of Mississippi was accused of murdering her unborn child. She became pregnant at age 15, but December 2006, 36 weeks into the pregnancy, she had a stillbirth. Prosecutors charged her with the "depraved-heart murder," which carries a mandatory life sentence, when they discovered she used cocaine.There is no actual evidence that drug use had anything to do with the stillbirth.


Neonaticide, the killing of a newborn infant less than 24 hours old, is usually by the mother. Families, Murder, and Insanity: A psychiatric review of paternal neonaticide.

On September 11, 2011, Lindsey Brooke Lowe, 25, gave birth to twins on a toilet in her parents’ home, smothered them and lef their bodies in her bedroom laundry hamper.

In April 2005, Katrina Effert 19, secretly gave birth to a son in her parents' Alberta Canada home, strangled him with her thong panties and threw his body over a fence into the neighbor's yard. Katrina was convicted of second-degree murder. In a rare move, the Alberta Court of Appeal decided that was unreasonable and downgraded the convviction to infanticide. The Crown appealed to the Canadian Supreme Court. In September 2011, Katrina received a suspended three year sentence and 100 hours of community service. In October 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal by the Crown.

Why They Kill Their Newborns - 18-year-old college couple, Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson, delivered their baby in a motel room, killed him and left his body in a dumpster. 18-year-old, Melissa Drexler, arrived at her high-school prom, locked in a bathroom stall, she gave birth to a boy and left him dead in a garbage can. Next: she touched herself up and returned to the dance floor. A grand jury indicted her for murder. New Jersey Prom Girl, Melissa Drexler and the McCaughey septuplets are two examples pointing to a US culture of ambivalence around the conception and care of children.

She told her mother that baby Tegan's father, Andrew Norris or Morris, took custody of the baby when she was two days old. A Supreme Court found Keli Lane, 35, guilty of murdering her two-day-old daughter, who disappeared after they left a Sydney Australia hospital in September 14, 1996. The Crown prosecutor told the jury that Lane killed the baby and disposed of the body because she didn't want a child in the way of competing for Australia in water polo at the Olympics and to maintain her golden-girl image. Keli had aborted two pregnancies and gave two babies up for adoption in 1995 and 1999. Her former boyfriend, Duncan Gillies, was unaware of her pregnancies and wrongly listed, by her, as the father on adoption papers of her first and third babies.


In July 1911, Mary Stastch, an unemployed, single, immigrant from Austria who had just given birth, wandered through Chicago for two days, holding her newborn in her arms, desperately looking for work. An ongoing labor crisis left nearly 250,000 people jobless. An immigrant woman with a baby didn't stand a chance. Then more than 350 police clashed with the immigrant neighborhood in "a day of rioting and wild disorder." Mary strangled her baby than carried the child several miles to hide it behind a residence.

Is Garrett Wilson a loving father and husband? In 1987, Wilson's 5 month-old son, Garrett Michael, died. Missy Anastasi, Wilson's wife at the time, suspected foul play but a medical examiner ruled the baby died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Seven years later, Anastasi discovered Wilson was secretly married to another woman and had another child. Convinced that Wilson was a killer, she asked police to look into her son's death. What they found shocked them. Can police gather enough evidence? Read Chapter 1 of Adrian Havill's gripping examination of the Garrett Wilson case.-- Part II - Part III - Part IV - Part V --While Innocents Slept: A Story of Revenge, Murder, and SIDS by Adrian Havill -- Death seemed to be part of Garrett Wilson's life. Both of his parents died by the time he was in his early twenties. So friends shrugged when sadly, an infant daughter, and then a son, succumbed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Six years later, after he divorced his wife, Missy, and married another woman, a former spouse became convinced their child's passing was anything but natural. Was it murder by Garrett, or revenge by his ex-wife? Missy's investigation led to Wilson's arrest and trial.

Between 1949 and 1968, Marie Noe had 10 children, seven girls and three boys. She and her husband adopted one child who lived longer than than the others. Two of the children lived just one month. One died after 13 days, another after 14 months. Not one lived to see a second birthday. In all except two of the deaths, Mrs. Noe said the babies had died while sleeping when she was home alone with them. Eventually the deaths were blamed on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS. Philadelphia investigators had been waiting for decades to hear Marie Noe, 70, admit she smothered 8 of her babies in the '40s, '50s and '60s. She made that confession in a small courtroom, pleading guilty to 8 counts of 2nd-degree murder, while Arthur, 77, wept in the gallery.

The New England Journal of Medicine: 1961 Journal "Slaughter of the Innocents: A Study of Forty-six Homicides in Which the Victims Were Children" (L. Adelson. 1961;264:1345-49). The same themes of passion, corruption, and the death of children: The Death of Innocents: A True Story of Murder, Medicine, and High-Stake Science.

Infanticide: Psychosocial and Legal Perspectives on Mothers Who Kill --Psychiatrists, psychologists, and lawyers discuss infanticide, historical legal statutes, postpartum disorders; denial of pregnancy; culture, scarcity, maternal thinking, contemporary legislation, treatment and prevention. Margaret G. Spinelli Psychiatry, Columbia U. College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Case Study: Female Infanticide - Female infanticide has accounted for millions of gender-selective deaths and remains a concern in Third World countries, notably China and India. Female infanticide reflects the low status of women and the most brutal manifestation of anti-female bias that pervades patriarchal societies. It is closely linked to the phenomena of sex-selective abortion, which targets female fetuses almost exclusively and neglect of girl children.

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