Murder Most Rare: The Female Serial Killer

By Michael D. Kelleher; C. L. Kelleher | Go to book overview

sudden infant death syndrome. Medical experts now believe that between I and 20 percent of the 7,000 to 8,000 American babies who are annually diagnosed as having died of SIDS may have actually died of other causes. 7 Research also indicates that there is a discomforting connection between mothers who make use of home apnea monitors and children who are later determined to be the victims of homicidal smothering. 8 Although the great majority of infant deaths are due to genuine medical complications, hundreds of these children die inexplicably each year. Sadly, many of these infants may die at the hands of their mothers. Psychiatrists believe that many of the mothers who compulsively kill their young suffer from Munchausen syndrome by proxy--a psychological disorder than can go unnoticed and undiagnosed for years until the murderer is apprehended or there are no more children to harm.I.

It is possible that mothers who kill their young often go undetected because they are the most unlikely of suspects. Our culture is rooted in the concept of family--a fundamental unit of survival that is predicated on love and trust. To the majority of Americans, it is inconceivable that the symbolic embodiment of love and trust--a mother--could, in fact, be a brutal serial murderer. Beyond this social bias lies another obstacle to prevention: medical misdiagnosis is common in cases of sudden infant death because the determination of the cause of death is often in the hands of a coroner who may have little or no medical experience in dealing with the complex issues of such a tragedy. Unless the cause of death is blatantly obvious, many coroners understandably choose to rely on the statements of supposedly bereaved parents rather than view them as possible suspects in an apparently motiveless homicide. 9 This combination of social bias and the inexperience of key medical personnel allowed Waneta Hoyt to unremittingly murder her children and remain undetected for over three decades.

District Attorney Fitzpatrick expressed the inherent unwillingness of Americans to recognize the potential of a mother as a serial murderer when he said, "We have prejudices about what killers look like, and they don't look like nice middle-class moms from the suburbs." 10 Sadly, to all who knew her, Waneta Hoyt fit this description perfectly--even after she had murdered five of her own children.


NOTES
1.
"Poisoning Investigation Expands", Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer (Internet edition), 23 June 1989.
2.
"Arsenic Follows the Men in Her Life", Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal (Internet edition), 14 November 1990.
3.
Julia M. Klein, "On Stand, Woman Denies Poisoning Lover and Husband", Philadelphia Inquirer (Internet edition), 9 November 1990.
____________________
I.
See Appendix III for an explanation of this psychological disorder.

-57-

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Murder Most Rare: The Female Serial Killer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1 - The Quiet Killers 1
  • Notes 17
  • 2 - Black Windows 19
  • Notes 57
  • 3 - Angles of Death 59
  • Notes 70
  • 4 - Sexual Predators 73
  • Notes 83
  • 5 - Revenge 85
  • Notes 91
  • 6 - For Profit or Crime 93
  • Notes 106
  • 7 - Team Killers 107
  • 8 - The Question of Sanity 161
  • Notes 172
  • 9 - The Unexplained 173
  • Notes 187
  • 10 - The Unsolved 189
  • Notes 196
  • Appendix 1 - Statistical Information 197
  • Appendix 2 - Alphabetical Listing of Female Serial Killers 199
  • Appendix 3 - Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy 201
  • Selected Bibliography 205
  • Index 209
  • About the Authors 214
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