Marie Noe
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The Death of Innocents: A True Story of Murder, Medicine, and High-Stake Science

A rule in forensics: one dead baby is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS); two dead babies is suspicious; three dead babies is murder. A new district attorney pursues an old case of five siblings whose deaths were attributed to SIDS.


Marie Noe

Parents Who Murder
Melissa Drexler
Andrea Yates
Marybeth Tining
Diane Downs
Domestic Violence

In 1963, under the pseudonyms Andrew and Martha Moore, Life magazine featured the Noe's as America most bereaved parents, and so did Newsweek t using their real names, Arthur and Marie Noe. Over 19-years, their ten children died, only two died of natural causes .Eight healthy babies between the ages of 13 days and 14 months died.

Born 1928, Marie has little memory of her past. Her father, a janitor, was a violent alcoholic who beat her mother. Marie was born into in a violent family with a great deal of mental illness. Her cold, unloving, violent mother, a part-time cleaning lady, abused the children.

When Marie was two years old, she was left at a Catholic orphanage for three months. At age five, she and a younger brother had scarlet fever, leaving her with permanent learning difficulties and severe headaches followed by hysterical blindness.

After a 40-year-old man was convicted of raping her 12-year-old sister. Marie claimed she was raped by an unidentified man in the Coast Guard. Police investigated, but no evidence was found . When Marie was 14, a sibling was diagnosed with post-traumatic personality disorder (PTSD) and sent to the state mental hospital. When Marie was 12 she dropped out of school for a job and to care for her niece. Her mother made her pay rent to live at home even as a child.

From the 1950s through to the early 60s, Marie repeatedly complained of being raped, temporary blindness, headaches, and obscene calls. She went into graphic detail with neighbors, regarding the obscene phone calls.”Her reports to the police were so frequent they quit following up.

Marie, 20, met Arthur Noe, 27, a machinist, at a private West Kensington neighborhood club in Philadelphia. Art, was a short, thin, chain smoking, alcoholic suffering from ulcers. T he military classified him as 4-F. They dated briefly, eloped, and moved in with Art's parents, in a close-knit, blue collar neighborhood. Marie was an outsider and her mother in law did not like or approve of her. Marie was obsessed with the opposite sex. Her obvious flirtations toward other men infuriated Art. He complained that all she wanted was sex and he was tired of fulfilling her demands. Marie was deficient in math and illiterate, due to cognitive disabilities and a lack of education. Art taught her how to write checks and the other skills she needed to make it through daily life.

While Art worked one night, Marie claimed she was raped by an intruder as she slept on the sofa, and her father-in-law slept upstairs. Marie claimed that she bit the rapist's ear. The neighbors felt this was another attempt to get attention. The police found no evidence of a crime.

On March 7, 1949, a couple weeks after the alleged rape, Marie gave birth to their first child, Richard Allan, seven pounds, 11 ounces. When he vomited Marie rushed him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with colic. When he was one month old, Marie bathed him, dressed him, put him to bed on his stomach, suffocated him, then took a nap. She was asleep when Arthur came home from work and found his son dead in his crib. Art ran with the baby to a neighbor, who drove them to the emergency room. Richard was dead on arrival. There was no autopsy. Coroners attributed the cause of death to “congestive heart failure due to subacute endocarditis,” rarely found in infants. Art had “a nervous breakdown” after the loss.

Marie continued to have headaches, complain of blindness and report being raped. Twelve days after the Richard's death, Art took her to the hospital when she claimed to be totally blind. She did not mention her history of hysterical blindness to the physician. A psychiatrist diagnosed “conversion hysteria” caused by her baby's death and the illness of an uncle and “inadequate personality development.” Marie was interviewed under the influence of sodium amytol, truth serum. She said that she and Art knew the baby’s death was unavoidable, and “she neither blamed others nor herself.” She wanted another baby. She suddenly became blind when Art said intercourse was prohibited, because he “would not permit her to have another child.” The doctor recommended she get pregnant again.

In the last trimester of her second pregnancy, Marie was hospitalized four times for false labor. Elizabeth Mary was born full-term, seven pounds, ten ounces, on September 8, 1950. The baby was healthy until a slight cold when she was five-months-old. She reportedly vomited blood mixed with milk. Marie gave her another bottle, called police and then woke up Art. Elizabeth was dead on arrival. The coroner attributed the death to bronchopneumonia, without microscopic confirmation or internal examination.

Jacqueline was born healthy on April 23, 1952, weighing seven pounds, 2 ounces. When she was 21 days old. Marie found her blue and vomiting. She was dead on the hospital. The coroner attributed the cause of death as "inspiration [sic] of vomitus.” Autopsy and inquest notes are gone.

Neighbors were becoming suspicious. Marie disappeared one afternoon. The following day, she called Art to come get her in Florida. and asked him to come get her. There were other similar incidents.

In 1954, Marie reported to the police that she came home and fainted when she discovered a burglar hiding in the bedroom closet. She said he bound and gagged with Art’s ties and her purse was missing $15. She told doctors it was the ties around her neck that caused her to faint. There was no physical evidence of trauma.

Exactly nine months later, Arthur Joseph Jr. was born, weighing seven pounds, 11.5 ounces. Days after his release, Marie took him to the emergency room for breathing difficulty. He was found to be healthy and was released. The following day, she called an ambulance. Arthur Jr. was dead on arrival. After a standard autopsy, the coroner listed bronchopneumonia as the cause of death.

Constance was born February 24, 1958. At the hospital, Marie asked the doctor, “What’s the use? She’s going to die just like all the others.” In mid March, Constance was having trouble breathing, and was admitted to the hospital for a cold. Testing found Constance to be healthy. Two days later, when Art returned home from at church, Marie was upstairs, Constance seemed lifeless in her crib. When he tried to resuscitate her, curds came out of nose and mouth. After being rushed her to the hospital by ambulance, she was dead on arrival. The autopsy was inconclusive.

Letitia was stillborn at 39 weeks on August 24, 1959. The cause of death was a knot in the umbilical cord.

In June 1962 , Mary Lee was delivered by cesarean section at 36 weeks, weighing six pounds, eight ounces. Marie was anemic with a vascular collapse. The hospital kept the Mary Lee for a month of observation. After her release, Marie called Dr. Columbus Gangemi, up to five times a day for advice and to complain about the crying getting on her nerves. In January 1963, Marie was three months pregnant, Marie found the baby blue in her crib. She flatly told the doctor on the phone, “Mary Lee is dead.” Mary Lee was dead on arrival. This time, the police escorted the Noes to the station for questioning. An autopsy performed by assistant Medical Examiner, Halbert Fillinger, stated the cause of death as “undetermined.” The hospital made a grant available to the Noes for free prenatal and postnatal care, delivery and hospitalization, if they would agree to genetic studies. They declined.

In June 1963, Marie went into premature labor at 38 weeks and delivered Theresa, a six-pound daughter by cesarean section. She died of congenital hemorrhagic diathesis less than seven hours after her birth.

Catherine "Cathy" Ellen was born healthy on December 3, 1964, by cesarean section, weighing seven pounds, seven ounces. The hospital kept her for three months for tests and observation. Cathy was described by hospital staff as happy and healthy. Art was affectionate with Cathy but Marie was detached. Marie showed two distinct personalities. When being watched by staff, she put on a "pretense of warming up to the baby" but was unable to bond. She would not feed Cathy. She told the nurses Cathy wasn't hungry but when they tried to feed her she was hungry. She was overheard saying to the baby, “You better take this or I’ll kill you!”

Dr. Gangemi treated Marie with hypnotherapy to built her confidence and reduce anxiety before Cathy was discharged in spring,1965. Things went well, until Cathy was eight months old, when Marie called the doctor proud that she saved her by removing a dry cleaning bag that managed to get wrapped around her head. The doctor hospitalized Cathy for the five weeks. Marie still had no interest in feeding Cathy and Art was the more loving parent.

Six weeks after Cathy's release, Marie was carrying Cathy down the street when she went limp. Marie revived Cathy with oxygen. She was hospitalized for three weeks. A week and a half after her release, Cathy was in the emergency room not breathing. Cathy was obviously fearful and distressed. She was released as healthy three weeks later. The Noes bought an inexpensive oxygen system, replaced Cathy’s bedroom door with a screen door, and placed a walkie-talkie next to the crib, with the “talk” button taped down. The Noes waited until Cathy was released to celebrate Christmas. She was showered with gifts, some were obviously not age appropriate. Ten days later, Marie found Cathy blue, having a “slight seizure.” Dr. Gangemi found nothing wrong, but prescribed Dilantin.

Eleven days later, Cathy was unconscious. She was dead on arrival, her body was still warm. Cathy lived longer than her siblings. The Medical Examiners Officer (OME) wen to the Noe home that afternoon to interview Art and Marie separately. Art admitted he is a drinker. He said it was odd to have so many children die, but it was not Marie's fault. The OME felt the death was suspicious but no referral was made to the Philadelphia PD.

In 1966, the Noes listed Halbert Fillinger, Montgomery County Medical Examiner, as a reference on their adoption application. He responded, "If you give Marie Noe a baby, she’ll either kill it quickly ... or, if she had no hand in these deaths, nobody deserves a baby more than she does.”

Marie gave birth to her tenth child, Arthur Joseph Jr., ”Arty” on July 1967. The lining of Marie's uterus ruptured, during delivery; she would not be able to have more children. The hospital kept Arty for for a two month observation. He was healthy, with no signs of respiratory impairment.Ar and Marie only visited him twice.

One month after his release, Marie said he turned blue and was choking while feeding. She “banged his chest,” and called for aid. His chest and head x-rays were normal. The hospital kept him for observation for 19 days. The only visit he had from home was one from Marie when she had to be at the hospital to discuss the bill.

Five weeks after Arty's release, Marie found him on his back, gasping for breath with their cat was on his blue face. Police rushed Arty to the hospital, he responded to oxygen. Less than two weeks later, January 2, 1968, an ambulance took Arty to the emergency room one last ride where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

A few hours later police and medical examiners read the couple their rights in their home. There was no attorney present because Marie did not think it was necessary. Arthur said, “I have no idea why this is always happening to us. I wish to God I did.” Dr. Gangemi felt Marie's need for attention was related to the deaths. The Noes were rumored to have many pets with low survival rates as well.

They had small life insurance policies to cover the final expenses of each baby. After Arty's last death they bought another home and covered the walls with photos of their babies. Marie planned to adopt a baby but never did.

Marie had attended a few psychoanalytic sessions. Art went once, but felt, “it got too personal about lovemaking.” Dr. Gangemi felt Marie had “an unstable schizophrenic personality who quite possibly is psychotic” and “loves attention.”

Thirty years later, in 1998, weeks before her 70th birthday, Philadelphia PD questioned Marie. After her arrest, Lynne Abraham, Philadelphia District Attorney, charged her with 1st degree murder for smothering eight babies to death. Outraged and distraught, Art, now 77, was suicidal and had nothing left but his dog. He blamed the authorities for wronfully accusing Marie. He did not believe she killed their children.

Marie admitted to suffocating Richard, Elizabeth, Constance, and possibly Jacqueline but could not recall the details of the deaths of Arthur Jr., Mary, Catherine and Arthur Joseph. In a June 1999, plea agreement, Marie confessed to eight counts of second-degree murder between 1949 and 1968. If the babies had lived, the oldest would have been 49. She was required to undergo intensive psychological testing for research purposes and sentenced to 20 years of probation, beginning with five years of house arrest.

In 2001, psychiatrist John O'Brien reported to Judge Mazzola, that Marie has a mixed-personality disorder, with features from several personality disorders. She does not blame her psychiatric disorder for the murders. There was no indication of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, disassociative disorder, or neurological problems. She was ordered her to stay under house arrest and continue counseling.

In December 2009, Art, Marie's husband of 61 years, died in his sleep of heart disease. He said he looked forward to death so he could see his babies. He would tell people that heaven need more Angels and they have a bunch of them up there. In her 80s, Marie is diabetic, arthritic, and almost bedridden. Nurses visit Marie daily, and a volunteer caregiver takes care of her daily needs.

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Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2011

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Cradle of Death - John Glatt 1949, a healthy baby boy named Richard Noe entered this world. Thirty-one days later, he was dead in his parents' bedroom. Over the next nineteen years, all nine of Marie and Arthur Noe's children would die -- seven of unexplained causes--none lived longer than fifteen months. The Noes were deemed victims of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). But SIDS is not hereditary. Investigators found that in each case, the child died home alone with Marie.Iin 1999 --50 years after her first child died -- septuagenarian Marie Noe pled guilty to killing eight of her children. Glatt goes behind the headlines and into the heart of this fascinating case to reveal the shocking answers

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