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Women Who Killed Their Children

To most, the thought of losing their child would be enough to kill a mother. That is not the case with women who killed their children.

Each year, an average of 500 children are killed by their parents. Of those heinous deaths, more than half are committed by their own fathers. However, when a mother kills her child, there is something truly chilling and gut wrenching. Some of the women who killed their children have claimed they've done so as a result of mercy killings, spousal revenge, temporary psychosis, or as the result of an unwanted child.

Whatever the reason may be, there are few murders that shake a community or country to its core like that of a child; especially by a biological parent. Parents are meant to care for, nurture, protect, and provide for their child, so when they instead turn and take life from the very life they gave, there is very little forgiveness from the judicial system, jurors, the public, and the media.

Kenisha Berry

A couple dumpster diving for aluminum in November 1998 came across a deceased four-day-old infant. The newborn boy had duct tape placed across his body and mouth, and was found inside of a plastic bag. After the case went cold for five years, a second abandoned newborn was discovered. Paris was found on the side of the road, covered in fire-ant bites that lead to hospitalization. Tips lead police to believe that Kenisha Berry was the mother.

After turning herself in to authorities, DNA samples pulled from the trash bag and duct tape half a decade earlier also identified her as the mother of the dumpster baby, affectionately known by the public as Baby Hope.

Berry was found guilty of first degree murder in 2004 for the death of the first child, who would come to be known as Malachi. In 2004, she was sentenced to death row, but three years later, Berry was re-sentenced to life in prison after it was determined that the prosecution couldn't successfully prove Berry would be a danger to society in the future.

During her trial, it was revealed that Berry had three other children who were unharmed. According to court documents, Malachi and Paris were the results of pregnancies from two different men. None of her friends or family knew she was pregnant with either child, nor did they know she would become one of the women who killed their children.

Susan Smith

In October 1994, South Carolina authorities embarked on a nine day manhunt for a black man who carjacked a vehicle with two young boys in it. Their mother, Susan Smith, begged and wept on national television for the safe return of her 14-month and three-year-old sons.

However, after more than a week of press conferences and public pleas, Smith admitted she let her car roll into a nearby lake with her two young boys strapped into their car seats, drowning them inside. In 1995, she was sentenced to life in prison.

During the trial, it was theorized that she killed her children in order to carry on an affair with a local wealthy man who was not interested in raising a family. Smith has since denied those claims, but her delinquent behaviors haven't ceased since she's been behind bars. In 2000, Smith was caught participating in sex acts with two guards at Women's Correctional Center in Columbia and found guilty of sexual misconduct.

Andrea Yates

Though she suffered from depression throughout her life, Yates was successful in high school as the class valedictorian, an officer in the National Honor Society, and went on to become a registered nurse, as well as one of the women who killed their children. Yates became depressed following the birth of her fourth child, Luke, in February 1999, and four months later, she attempted suicide and was hospitalized twice before finally appearing stabilized. A month later, she suffered a nervous breakdown, and was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. 

Despite being urged not to have any more children by the first psychiatrist, the Yates' conceived their fifth child just seven weeks after Andrea was discharged. In November 2000, Mary was born. In March of the following year, Yates' father passed away, sending her into a downward spiral. She stopping taking her medication, stopped feeding Mary, and mutilated herself; which lead her to being put under the care of Dr. Saeed.

Again despite her psychiatrist's advice, Rusty Yates started leaving Andrea home alone with their children for short periods of time, easing her back into the role and allowing her some freedom from the constant observance of others.

On June 20, 2001, Rusty left for work in the morning, leaving Andrea home with the kids just as he had several times before. His mother was scheduled to arrive one hour after he left to take over for Andrea just as she had several times before. Only this time, Andrea would drown all five children in the one hour she was left alone.

She started with John (5), Paul (3), and Luke (2), and laid the three boys on her bed. Six-month-old Mary was still floating in the tub when the oldest child, Noah (7), came in to ask what had happened. He tried to run, but Yates eventually caught him and drowned him, too. She left his body in the tub and moved the deceased infant to the bed with her three brothers. She then called the police and Rusty.

Marybeth Tinning

Not one, not two, but NINE of Marybeth Tinning's children are deceased. It all started with her third child, Jennifer, in December 1971. At only eight days old, Jennifer died from hemorrhagic meningitis and multiple brain abscesses from birth. Less than three weeks later, two-year-old Joseph Jr. was pronounced dead as a result of pulmonary arrest. The list goes on:

  • Early 1972: Barbara going into convulsions and dying the next day following a comatose state that lasted several hours
  • December 1973: Timothy’s death attributed to SIDS at just 18 days old
  • Late 1975: Nathan dying while out in the car with Tinning
  • February 1979: Mary Frances dying after being taken off life support; previously rushed to the hospital for “aborted SIDS,” then cardiac arrest that resulted in irreversible brain damage
  • March 1980: Jonathan pronounced dead after being taken off  four weeks of life support
  • March 1981: Michael (their adopted son) pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital for not waking up. It was reported that a month earlier he had fallen down the stairs

At this point, the long-suspected (but un-investigated theory) that the deaths of the Tinning children were of genetic origin was abandoned. The Tinning's ninth child, Tami Lynne, was born in August 1985. Just five days before Christmas of that same year, Tami Lynne died from being smothered.

The deaths of the Tinning children occurred over a 13-year period, and as a result of lack of evidence, Tinning was only charged with the death of Tami Lynne. She was convicted of second degree murder in the summer of 1987 with a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. After being denied parole six times over the course of her incarceration, she was finally granted parole on her seventh attempt, and is expected to be released in 2018. This begs the question, "Is a murderer always a murderer?"

Susan Eubanks

October 26, 1997, started out as a pretty ordinary day for Brandon (14), Austin (7), Brigham (6), and Matthew (4). The boys were left home with Brandon while their mother, Susan Eubanks, and her boyfriend headed out to a bar for some drinks and football. The couple returned home some time after, arguing and carrying on, with Eubanks ultimately damaging Dodson's car outside the house. Police came and left, and the drunk and aggravated Eubanks was left home with the children.

Brandon, being a good big brother, phoned the mother of one of his best friends asking her to come pick up he and his siblings, so they wouldn't be exposed to the fighting that was occurring. The boys were never picked up, and Eubanks called the father of Brigham and Matthew, leaving a cryptic voice saying "Say goodbye." Eric Eubanks, ultimately fearing for the safety of the children, called the police and reported the message, demanding authorities visit the home.

By the time they arrived, it was too late. Susan Eubanks fatally shot and killed three of her children with gunshot wounds to the head. Four-year-old Matthew was clinging to life when deputies found him on the bottom bunk next to Brigham. Matthew was flown to a local children's hospital, but eventually succumbed to his wounds. Eubanks was also found shot in the abdomen at the scene, but eventually recovered from her injuries.

Strangely enough, a fifth child was present and unharmed in the Eubanks home when police arrived on the scene. The child, identified as the six-year-old nephew of Eubanks, was found unharmed with blankets pulled up to his chin.

Megan Huntsman

Following a stay in jail between 2006 and 2014, Darren West returned home only to have another case on his hands. While cleaning out his garage, he found the body of a deceased infant. When the police arrived, they found six more, wrapped in towels or sweaters, and then a layer of plastic wrap, put into storage boxes.

Megan Huntsman, the mother of these dead newborns, had the children between 1996 and 2006. Huntsman admitted to police that she would suffocate or strangle the babies just minutes after they were born. She admitted that she killed the infants because she was addicted to methamphetamines, and would be unable to care for the children despite the fact that she has three other, older daughters.

GiGi Jordan

GiGi Jordan was a woman who could have used "all of her money, all of her resources," but instead, opted to kill her eight-year-old son. With a fortune of up $50 million, the news headline that Jordan had committed murder rocked the world. In February 2010, police and Peninsula hotel security broke through the hotel room door to fine a deceased boy and his mother crying by his side surrounded by pills, empty vodka bottles, and a pill crusher.

GiGi Jordan forced a fatal overdose on her nonverbal autistic son Jude, something she dubbed an act of mercy. According to the testimony, Jordan believed her first husband was going to kill her. She subsequently believed Jude would wind up in the custody of her second husband, whom she thought had been sexually assaulting the boy for years.

Jordan apparently never meant for Jude to die alone though. Her testimony states that she attempted to kill herself with pills but failed. Throughout the trial, the Justice Solomon often called out the inaccuracies and inconsistencies within Jordan's statements, claiming there was no credible evidence Jude had been assaulted, as well as his belief that Jordan never tried to commit suicide shortly after ensuring Jude's death.

Isabel Martinez

On July 6, 2017, police in Georgia responded to a 911 call to find almost an entire family brutally murdered while they slept. Axel (2), Dillan (2), Dakota (7), Isabela (10), and their father Martin (33), were found inside the home stabbed to death. This wasn't a case of a breaking and entering though. The killer was Martin's wife, the mother of those four children. A fifth child, Martinez's nine-year-old daughter Diana, was wounded but survived her mother's murderous rampage.

According to reports given by the sole surviving child of the murder, Martinez asked for her daughter's forgiveness before stabbing her. She then said the girl was "going to the sky to see Jesus." Though Diana was lucky to survive this assault, she now has to live through the reality of what happens to the children of famous criminals.

Mitchelle Blair

Mitchelle Blair, a mother of four, was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 without the possibility of parole after she was found guilty of the murder of her two children. Two to three years following their deaths, Stoni (13) and Stephen (9) were found in a deep, white freezer in the living room of the family's home by a crew assisting in the eviction of Blair in March of 2015.

Blair was not shy about her convictions and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Stoni and felony murder in the death of her son. Why did she only kill two of her children? She believed that Stoni and Stephen were sexually assaulting her other adolescent child. Though Blair admitted the death of Stoni was intentional—as she would hit, starve, burn, and suffocate her daughter—she said the murder of Stephen was not as purposeful. Ultimately though, as a result of beating, burning, strangling, and forcing him to drink Windex, Stephen lost his life.

Christy Sheats

June 24, 2016, could have been a time for celebration. It was Jason's birthday. Instead, it was a day that ended in heartbreak and tragedy. The family, Christy (42), Jason (45), and their two daughters Madison (17) and Taylor (22), had assembled in the family home for a meeting called by Christy herself. Jason had asked for a divorce and they were going to update the girls together. Within just minutes of the family being together, Christy opened fire on her beloved daughters as Jason stood by in horror, before Christy was fatally shot by law enforcement officials.

As the first bullets rang out, Jason and his daughters immediately tried to escape the home. Madison collapsed and died as a result of her wounds, but Taylor and her father managed to escape the house before Taylor was shot again by her mother. Christy, however, did not open fire on Jason, who she kept alive to "make him suffer."

Though Christy was said to be a devoted mother and known for loving her daughters, Christy's mental health began to decline in 2012 following the death of her mother and grandfather. According to Jason's report to the authorities, Christy received treatment from three different mental health facilities. Police also visited the Sheats' home for calls about three different suicide attempts, and Christy was placed on depression and anxiety medication. Ultimately, Sheats did the unthinkable and became one of the many women who killed their children.