Megan Hunstman was a Murderous Munchausen Mother


It’s so unbelievable when a mother kills her own babies for no reason that it seems surreal when we come across such cases. Strangely, I actually believed that Munchausen Syndrome, which is extremely rare to begin with, was fading out of human behaviour. Perhaps out of sight out of mind, which is certainly the case in this macabre tale. It may have faded from our collective consciousness but for people like Megan Huntsman, 39, from Utah, murder is polygamy1a way of life. During a decade of birthing infants from 1996 to 2006, Megan systematically gave birth to, then killed, six beautiful infants through strangulation or suffocation. She says she had seven babies but one was stillborn. Just as well. We know it wouldn’t have lived either. Isn’t it ironic that Utah has the largest settlement of those “religious” Mormons who are  so devoted to God? Not to mention Utah is the largest welfare state in the USA due to so many polygamous families sect that forces daughters, half-sisters and nieces to marry men old enough to be their fathers (or are in fact their stepfathers) and thereby become part of a posse that would make the sister wives on Sister Wives envious. Perhaps Huntsman wished to compete then changed her mind upon birthing her children.

After the infants were discovered investigators had to determine if the seven babies had the same father ( Darren West), or if Megan 29-Huntsman-Gettywas a baby-mama. The gruesome case has raised a series of questions about how the killings occurred despite this woman carrying out what neighbours said seemed like a normal existence. The thing is, how did a woman carry to term seven babies, have seven pregnancies, then not be pregnant, and for her to not have seven children? Didn’t the neighbours ever scratch their heads over the disappearing infants as one of those things that make you go “hmmmmm?” It’s the same thing with other serial killers. Neighbours are the last to know. They always say incredibly gullible things like “he was the nicest guy.” Just so long as you didn’t forget to return the hedge clippers. “It makes us so sad, we want to cry,” said neighbour Kathie Hawker, who years ago used to have Ms Huntsman babysit her own children. She must be wiping away beads of sweat right about now. “We enjoyed having them as a neighbour. This has just blown us away.” Perfect example of my aforementioned theory.

Aaron and Kathy Hawker noticed the family cleaning out their garage (and their closet) on that fateful morning. A mess of junk including an old sled, plastic buckets, wrought iron headboards, huntsmanblue tarp, an old lawn mower and other debris was scattered on the property, (along with one or two stillborns probably). By noon a swarm of police cars lined up along the street in front of the house. They installed yellow caution tape along the property. The Hawkers believed they were “quite close to the family” and “were shocked” about the findings. Obviously, the Hawkers and the Wests weren’t too close. Tellingly, Aaron Hawker stated, “she always looked slim so it’s like, where are these babies?” (in boxes). Another neighbour, Sharon Chipman, told The Salt Lake Tribune she had seen Huntsman gaining and losing weight over the years but never thought that Huntsman might be pregnant.That no one, including the three daughters living in the house with their mother at the time, knew she was pregnant seven times without any babies ever materializing remained a riddle, police acknowledged. But most perplexing was the notion that Mr West would have remained unaware. “That’s the million-dollar question,” Captain Michael Roberts, of the Pleasant Grove Police Department said.

Huntsman was taken into custody on Sunday April 13, 2014, after police found seven dead infants in her garage. It is believed she gave birth to the victims huntsmanbetween 1996 and 2006. She was charged with murdering six of them. At first it was unclear why there was no seventh charge but a coroner confirmed the seventh infant had died of natural causes. It was Huntsman’s estranged husband who telephoned police to say he had been sorting through belongings in the garage when he came across a box with a pungent odour and when he opened it, discovered the body of one baby. When officers arrived, they found the six other corpses, all babies apparently delivered at full term, stuffed individually into boxes. “My personal reaction? Just shocked. Couldn’t believe it. The other officers felt the same. They got more and more shocked each box they opened,” said Captain Roberts.

While  at the time of the discovery, Huntsman was no longer living in the house, it was still occupied by three of her daughters, who somehow had made it past birth: one aged about 13 and the other two huntsmanbetween 18 and 20 years old. The home is owned by the parents of her husband, West, who had come to sort out the garage because he was planning to move back in. Police said they believed West was the father of the dead babies While he and the three daughters were all questioned, none of them faced charges at that time. I should hope the daughters wouldn’t face charges. They were little children themselves when the murders were taking place and could hardly be expected to report their mother to police. As of their current ages, had any of the three girls known about the babies (and there is the possibility that this is the case) they would have been so traumatized as to be in denial that their own mother could commit such crimes. Not to mention the danger the girls could themselves have been in had they betrayed their mother.

Speaking of which, oddly enough, when Huntsman was pregnant with her two oldest daughters, no one, including West, knew about it. Huntsman didn’t tell anyone until she went into labour and had to be brought to the hospital. So, she apparently knows how to do it,’ Roberts said. It would seem so except during 1996 – 2006, Huntsman gave birth at home. It is believed she did so at home without help from her family members. If Huntsman’s timeline is accurate, that would mean West was living with Huntsman during the time of the births How she could have hidden herself somewhere in the house and remained quiet during labour is beyond my understanding. People are capable of all sorts of bizarre things. Mr West however wasn’t the seemliest of characters. He was convicted in 2006 of possessing chemicals to make methamphetamine and sentenced to nine years in prison. Police are awaiting DNA analysis results before they can identify Mr West as the father of all seven dead infants.

His family issued a statement speaking of their “shock and confusion”. The people I feel the sorriest for in this mess are the three daughters since (1) the dead childpolice have not ruled out making more arrests (2) both of their parents are criminals and (3) if any of the unhappy girls did assist their mother in birthing their unfortunate siblings, it would not have been voluntary. They themselves would have been children at the time of the births and therefore very much under Huntsman’s strict control.

Police served a new search warrant at the house of a family member but turned up nothing useful. Investigators began poring over evidence to find out if Huntsman gave birth and killed any other babies, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Think of the stigma the girls now live with and probably will for the rest of their lives, should they remain in their current neighbourhood and its surrounding vicinity. It shouldn’t come as a surprise however that Huntsman had no consideration for her living children. Think of what she put her infants through.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 1977 Toronto Shoeshine Boy Murder

Originally posted on Tales from the Dark Side:

shoe The Yonge Street Strip is  Toronto’s downtown core, frequented by shoppers, tourists and just plain ordinary people. It has a plethora of restaurants, bars, boutiques, sports shops, Dundas Square , the Eaton Centre , and famous franchises such as Le Chateau. It is a popular, safe hang for hip young 20 -somethings and teenagers. It wasn’t always this way .

In 1977 Toronto’s downtown core was known as a sleazy strip frequented by prostitutes, drug addicts and transients. During that year it became notorious when 12-year-old blonde, blue-eyed Emmanuel Jacqueswas abducted, raped and murdered by two men after being lured to their apartment above the Charlie’s Angels body-rub parlour at 245 Yonge Street with the promise of $35 for help moving photographic equipment. He was then restrained and repeatedly sexually assaulted over a period of twelve hours before being strangled and drowned in a kitchen sink .Emanuel Jaques…

View original 1,029 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Perverse, Pathological Pathologist Put in Prison for Persistent, Pathetic, Perjured Practice

Originally posted on Tales from the Dark Side:

The egregious actions and abysmal failures of Dr. Charles Randal Smith have disgraced the entire medical profession. At least that’s what smi the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeon s stated on March 25, 2011 at the college. Smith chose not to attend the summation of his crooked practice. He had been stripped of his medical licence one month before the dress-down. Smith was arrested on several charges that destroyed innocent people’s lives and devastated their families. Over several years, Smith’s mistakes and uninformed diagnoses resulted in people being wrongly convicted of killing children, Some innocent people have spent as many a 14 years in jail.   He failed to gather relevant information and conduct appropriate investigations. He referenced social situations of parents that were irrelevant, and gave unscientific, speculative and unsubstantiated opinions, He was one lazy son of a bitch.

Tammy Marquardt,the only one of Smith’s victims. Marquardt spent 14 years in prison…

View original 1,209 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Update to T J Lane and the Chardon High School Massacre

While we’re on the topic of schools I googled and you-tube’d around and found an interesting follow-up on our friend T.J. Lane. I wasn’t looking for a followup to be honest, it just popped up when I was googling Franklin Regional High School. (Sick humour aside: is someone going to create a school massacre hall of fame? I mean who over 14 doesn’t remember the term Columbine?) Lane, you will remember, shot and killed his mother then walked to Chardon Elementary School and shot six more people, three of whom died. When the smoke cleared, lots of bloggers (including amateur little me) speculated as to his motivation. I was pretty harsh in that blog. I remember feeling revulsion when “that little prick” as I called him, flipped everyone off and smirked during his trial. That still angers me. I also agreed with a court-retained psychiatrist who stated Lane couldn’t fake the symptoms he displayed of mental illness.

In other words, yep, he was nuts. I would like to think however that most mentally ill criminals aren’t this pleased with themselves when they kill people.  I do know one  tj-lane-new-photo_20130321101002_640_480thing: anyone who spreads misery in this world is not a happy individual. Misery loves company, or some such thing? There is another possibility as to why he behaved so coldly: he was trying to exaggerate any symptoms he had of mental illness, or perhaps add a few more so everyone could think “well if a person would sit in court and do that, he must be crazy and crazy people aren’t responsible for their actions!” Sometimes that’s true. People who don’t take their meds or forget to or who suffer from an illness that involves threatening, violent hallucinations, certainly may not be guilty of a crime. Take Andrea Yates, for instance. God love her. My sister-in-law had a high school friend with schizophrenia. They didn’t know it going through high school because his symptoms were delayed until he wa about 18, then he had to leave school. Two year ago, living with his mother in B.C. he stabbed her to death then decapitated her. He thought she was satan. But that’s another blog entirely. 

I remember a man blogging about how unfair it was that his Aspberger’s Syndrome was mentioned. (I don’t recall where I read that now…I don’t know that it’s even true). “It gives people with Aspberger’s Syndrome a bad name,” he lamented. I don’t know. When I heard about the sad Franklin Regional High School slaughtering the first thing that did not come to my mind was ‘did this kid have aspberger’s syndrome?” However, to each his own lament.

Here is a good argument for why I believe that people who commit evil acts aren’t evil. According to his past records, T. J. Lane was arrested twice in December 2009. The first time, Lantj-lane-3e restrained his uncle, while his cousin hit him. The other case involved Lane hitting another boy in the face.To the second charge, Lane pled to a count of disorderly conduct. Although family court records concerning T. J. Lane had not been released, as of March 12, 2012, the press did expose criminal records of Lane’s father, Thomas M. Lane, Jr. The records showed that in 2002 the elder Lane was charged with attempted murder, but was found guilty of a lesser charge of assault and disruption, and served less than one year in prison. In an ordeal lasting nine hours, he physically and verbally assaulted a woman while three children were present. In addition, “he has arrests on a wide range of offenses including drug abuse and possession, violation of probation, public intoxication and disorderly conduct.”

Well now. What do they say about the apple not falling far from the tree? When you have that kind of papa, is it any surprise that one day you take a gun and go shoot innocent people you don’t even know? I don’t think so. Bizarre reactions like flipping people off and wearing a shirt with the word killer on it are meant to aggravate people as much as they are meant to boast. Why? As a youngster, there is no doubt in my mind that when Lane got in trouble at school by his teachers, he loved their reactions. He enjoyed the power he exercistjed over authority figures by making them angry and rendering them ineffective, especially in front of his peers, in school. The example began at home. The effect worked well at school. The crime was committed at a school, although not one he attended. Do we see a chain reaction? I do. Except Lane got to take this a huge step forward into the national spotlight. Bonus.

Anyway that’s a long build-up to blog that Lane isn’t doing so well in prison. There’s a surprise. It’s not what you’re thinking either. You’re thinking, “he’s getting prison-raped, well it serves him good!” No you are wrong. He has been charged for self-mutilation (didn’t know there was a charge for that), including getting a tattoo, reprimanded for refusing a cell block assignment, he lost 10 day of recreation time a month ago for the same thing…the boy just doesn’t learn. I’ve no idea whether he’s been abused or is just abusing himself. I don’t know that that would make the families of the victims any happier. His legal team is trying to get his life sentence overturned even though it was received through a plea deal. His lawyer put in a few words, reassuring the public that he’s a-okay: “as your television viewers know prison tats are very, very common yet they’re always prohibited. I don’t know that that amounts to anything big.” No, but shooting six people does.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

20 Students Stabbed by a Strangely Strung-Out Kid

This is another one of those terrible school massacres except this time it was with blades and not guns. You want to know what’s creepy is that I walk by a kindergarten classroom every day and there is a little graph with the question “Who Likes Bey Blades?” and tally marks. Of course it doesn’t refer to knife blades but just for the sake of argument, well, brrrrr….  anyway. Today in Pittsburgh, Franklin Region Public High School, a 16-year-old boy, Alex Hribal, tried to kill people. He critically wounded several kids, seriously wounded four kids, but not all of the 20 injured at Franklin Regional High School were cut by the knife, though most were, Westmoreland County emergency management spokesman Dan Stevens said. Some suffered scrapes and cuts in the mayhem that erupted at about 7:15 a.m. at the school in Murrysville, about 24 kilometres east of Pittsburgh.. I get so sad when I hear about those tragedies. I start crying (okay, I don’t sob and break down…I have a little better self-control than that) and thinking how sad it is not just for the victims but the attacker/potential killer, too.

Sorry for the creature?” Tom Ewell asks Marilyn Monroe in the Seven Year frankItch as they emerge from a movie theatre with the title, “Creature from the Black Lagoon” on the marquis. Monroe replies “he wasn’t really all bad. I think he just craved a little affection, you know a sense of being loved and needed and wanted.”At first glance everyone wants to hate the “bad guy”, “the creature.” I understand that. It’s a natural reaction to think “this kid stabbed and slashed several of his peers and I should feel sorry for him?’ No one is saying you have to feel sorry for a teenager who runs through his school wielding two knives trying to kill people. But I do believe and have always believed that people who are capable of sudden, uncontainable violence have many complex issues. For one thing there has to be a mental health issue. People like to say a person can just be evil and perhaps there is something to that.

I read this really great novel called, I think, The Green Room. I know the little book was a green hardcover and the font was green. I can’t remember who wrote it but I remember the philosophies the author shared as to what happens as we die. The protagonist has died and gone to heaven (literally). He is a soul wandering around heaven and asking a lot of questions about how things work in heaven and on earth. He finds a soul-makerAP_school_stabbing_scene_jef_140409_16x9_992 and asks him “what about Adolf Hitler?” The soul-maker shrugs and replied, “he’s one of the souls that slipped by us. We didn’t mean to let him out.” Of course this argues that a person is born evil rather than made into an evil person. I disagree. I do think people can be born with the potential to be pathological but I don’t think anyone is born evil. If that was the case there would be far more crime and evil in this world than there is now. And so far it’s bad. Interesting concept but I’m not buying into it personally. The act itself is evil, certainly, but does that apply also to this unhappy child?

A motive has not yet been determined, but investigators are examining a possible connection with reports about a threatening phone call between the suspect and another student the night before the attack. It was not clear whether the suspect reportedly made article-murrysville1-0409or received the call. Seven teens and one adult were listed in serious condition at Forbes Hospital, West Penn Allegheny Health System spokeswoman Jennifer Davis said. They ranged in age from 15 to 60, and some were in surgery, she said. A ninth victim, a 15-year-old girl, was in good condition at Allegheny Hospital, Davis said. The student at a Pennsylvania high school “wasn’t a real well-liked kid” and had made death threats to students before, the brother of a witness told “I guess the kids who got the threats just assumed it’s no big deal,” he said, noting his sister was “about a foot or two” from another student who was stabbed. At one point, Hribal tackled another student, said the source, who asked not to be named. “He jumped on the kid’s back and was stabbing him pretty hard,” said the source, whose sister escaped the school unharmed.

I believe that a person can be raised in an evil environment. For instance, children raised in war zones around the globe are definitely living amongst evil. I believe many people have no business raising children, whether they hit them or not. But I don’t believe that we are simply born evil. That is an excuse. It’s giving someone the easy way out. That makes no more sense than not placing this child on trial because we all agree he’s just “evil.” I think this boy is mentally ill, whether or not he has been diagnosed and whether or not he has displayed “symptoms” (mentally ill people often display signficant symptoms but people around them fail to comprehend the signs). What happened in this boy’s life that made him so filled with hate? What drove a teenager to take two knives and stab his peers repeatedly with them in an attempt to take their lives? This isn’t normal behaviour therefore there is an abnormal explanation. No he isn’t simply evil. That’s just silly. He’s been terribly injured if not in reality then certainly from his own perspective, in his mind.

I read once in a textbook by a psychologist (darned if I can remember who or what it was called) that whether or not a violent criminal who had childhood memories of being abused or punished was correct, the important thing was that this criminal believed it in his own mindarticle-murrysville2-0409. And this was what made him dangerous and drove him to his criminal behaviour (along with other issues). I don’t believe the teenage killer (or killer wannabe) is that simple a person. I also don’t think we should presume that his family is abusive. They probably aren’t. If there is a mental health issue there have to be many more influences that simply that. The media is a huge issue. Some people have more exposure to it than others and I mean years of it.

I know very good people with serious mental health issues. They see a psychiatrist regularly. They take their medications faithfully. They are kind, decent people who have good careers and would never run about with two knives in their hands (I can picture one of my friends, who has a wonderful sense of humour, saying, ‘well they taught me in Kindergarten not to run with scissors in my hand in case I hurt myself’). I do find a terrible irony in the fact that it is essentially believed that behaviour change come through knowledge and these student massacres, (in this case by knife), happen in schools. And in the fact that although school massacres are on the increase in the United States, no one seems to have a prevention program in place.

There may or may not be a trial. If this boy pleads guilty to a lesser charge then there will Bkzmi9YCUAAJTQgnot be a trial. If he refuses to take a plea or the prosecution won’t allow him a plea, then millions of people will watch this sad trial unfold. Some will be vengeful and say “stick him in prison and let the men there kill him!” Others will say “well there’s no doubt he’s guilty so they have to jail him” still others like me will say “there is something wrong with this child. He needs to spend at least some of his sentence in an institution for the criminally insane”. Some people will say “put him to death…eye for an eye.” At the same time, this boy, like most students who partake in massacres against their peers, was an outcast and wasn’t well-liked. We don’t yet know why and the answer is sure to be complex. Whatever the outcome I’m just relieved I’m not on the jury or the judge’s bench.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Half-Brother Killer is Half-Uncle and Half-Father with his Half-Sister to His Daughter

Say what? Allow me to explain. A seemingly ordinary family, the Jaggers (no, not Mick and company), had some seriously sick skeletons in their proverbial closet. Victoria Jaggers was born in Tilbury, Essex, England. She was the youngest of four siblings. She remembered a happy childhood. Her half-brother David, her mother Averil’s son jaggers-in-2004from a previous relationship was her best friend. She adored her brother. They were close and spent hours playing together. “He cuddled her to pieces….and he was a happy kid,” Averil recalled. At some point however David began showing a dark side. At school he got into many fights with his peers. He got involved in criminal activities. David and his friends stole a car when he was 15. David used a rifle to shoot at people instead of the animals he’d told his mother. Deciding a change of venue was in order, the Jaggers began moving around often. They worked in pubs, the family living in small apartments above the bars. Although this arrangement worked for Len and Averil, it caused more problems for their children. David didn’t have the chance to build friendships. He had no stability. His criminal background and anti-social traits were a dangerous cocktail for sexual offences. Clearly, David’s behaviour developed somewhere along the line through his parenting and general environment. Although they were pleasant, social people (with the exception of David), clearly the Jaggers were a deeply dysfunctional family Unable to deal with his crimes, his parents looked the other way. It was a mistake they would regret years later.

For her part, Vicky had no teachers or friends to whom she could turn when David’s incestuous abuse began. In fact, victhe lack of people in her life increased her reliance upon David for emotional bonding. At 12, Vicky’s childhood was utterly destroyed. One night the brother she trusted more than anyone in the world, entered her bedroom. He climbed into bed with her and raped her. Even today, Vicky cannot bring herself to admit David raped her. “He did what he did and left and then I just lay there crying all night.” The following morning was bizarre. Vicky joined her brother and mother in the kitchen. David scarcely glanced at her and Averil busied herself making breakfast. In the light of day, the little girl questioned her own sanity. Had David really raped her the night before? Everyone acted normal. She wondered if what had happened to her the night before had really happened.

“I didn’t know if this was normal. I’d been in the pubs moving around so I didn’t have any friends. So I didn’t know what their families were like,” Vicky explained years later. “So I just thought it was normal.” The way David looked at her davidhowever, had an implied, non-verbal message,you won’t talk.”  A psychologist who studied the case stated that in order for David to have sexually assaulted his younger sister, he must have been exposed to sex in some manner be it pornography, sex in the household, or some other venue. Ted Bundy, the poster boy for serial murderer claimed that his crimes were highly influenced by his exposure to violent pornography when he was only 12. Perhaps there was some truth to his testimony.

The following night, David raped the little girl again. Another rape happened the night after. After 3 rapes, Vicky couldn’t take it anymore. She refused to sleep in that particular room again but she wouldn’t explain the reason to her parents. At 12, Vicky Jaggers discovered she was pregnant with David’s baby. “I was scared, very scared.” Vicky gathered up her courage and told her mother and father she was pregnant. She told her parents it was “a boy at school.”  One day Averil would admit that she didn’t believe her daughter and thought David was the real culprit. The police became involved and Vicky changed her story, stating he was someone “on the road“. The police asked Averil if Len could be the father. They didn’t believe little Vicky’s story for a second. As soon as Vicky became pregnant and told her family, David moved out but Averil appeared not to make a connection between her angry son and her daughter’s pregnancy.

Vicky gave birth to a beautiful baby girl she named Kirsty. Averil opted to raise little Kirsty although she was honest with her about her mother’s identity. Len and Averil uprooted Vicky once again and sent her to a boarding school. domestic-violenceHaving got away with the rapes of Vicky, David sought out people with vulnerability and confidently became involved with Helen Mitchell, a single mother with two children. Soon after they met, he moved in with her and began beating her. One night while having dinner with David’s family he shouted at Helen, “shut your mouth! I don’t want to see what you’re eating!” Occasionally Helen threw him out but she always took him back. Finally Helen contacted her sister Sheila who hurried to her apartment. She found David with a silver case filled with knives. “Before you put that knife into Helen, you’re going to have to put it in me first!” Sheila warned him. David put the knife away. Sheila gathered her sister and her sister’s children and left. Yet somehow, two weeks later David murdered Helen Mitchell by strangling her “to death with his bare hands”. That same night, David raped Helen’s younger sister who was only 14. David stressed so much that he told Averil about the rape and murder. Horrified, Averil made the most difficult telephone call of her life and contacted police. David pled guilty to manslaughter and received 6 years in penitentiary.

Knowing she would be safe with her brother in jail, Vicky returned home from boarding school and began building her relationship with Kirsty. But the happy times for this family came to an abrupt end when Len died of cancer and David got early release from prison. Suddenly David was back in Vicky’s life. Without warning David strangled Vicky until she turned blue. Vicky cut David out of her life, marrying a man named Kelly and having four more children. Over the following decade she had no contact with David. 18 years flew by and David the loser had to move back in with mummy because “he’d lost his flat,” something that seems to happen quite often to serial rapists. David contributed nothing to Aveil’s household and spent most of his days using his computer. Vicky’s teenage daughters often visited their grandmother and it was now that Vicky confronted her brother, screaming at him and attacking him physically. After Vicky had lashed out at him, David felt his control dissolve. Upstairs, he muttered to Averil “they’re all going to hate me! They’re going to rape me!” Confused Averil asked David what he meant. David fled and went on the run.

At home Vicky felt safe enough to tell her husband what David had done to her 18 years before. “It was so harrowing. It was unbelievable,” Kelly stated. Vicky wept, “it’s unahim! It’s him!” over and over. “David’s the one! David’s her dad! David was the one who raped me when I was 12.”  Kelly approached Averil and delivered the sad news. “It didn’t seem surprising. It was as if somehow I knew,” Averil confessed. Just as devastating as the rape had been, Averil’s passive response, that is, her refusal to protect her daughter 18 years earlier, is equally repugnant. How any mother can ignore obvious signs of incest between her daughter and another family member is mind-boggling.

But Vicky’s trauma was far from over. She was forced to make a statement to police in order to have him arrested. Detective Sergeant Tracy Wheeler from the Essex police stated, “The release, the catharsis, was unbelievable. She just sobbed and sobbed. And when I first met her it was like walking into a room with a 12-year-old girl again. She became that little girl it had happened to all those years ago.” During the interview, David was arrested elsewhere during a siege where, not surprisingly, he took a woman hostage, much like he’d done to Vicky years before. David pled guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. Wheeler claimed David was “a very damaged individual. What damaged him or who damaged him I don’t know.” He visited that damage upon his poor sister, Heather Mitchell and her young sister. He took lives and almost decimated others. However in that regard he didn’t succeed. Ironically Vicky’s anchor is Kirsty, David’s daughter. Having a family is what has saved her. That, and her courage to break the cycle of abuse.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Typhoid Mary Quite Contrary

marytMary Mallon got a bad rap in her day, being the 1880s . She became the poster girl for the typhoid virus. Mallon was born on September 23, 1869 in Ireland and immigrated to the United States at the age of 15 to eke out a living as a domestic servant. She had a talent for cooking which allowed her to make a decent living among the upper class of the New York area. In 1900, Mary worked in Mamaroneck, New York  where, within two weeks of her employment, residents developed typhoid fever. In 1901 she moved to Manhattan, where members of the family for whom she worked developed fevers and diarrhea (ick), and the laundress died. Oh dear. Everyone must have walked around in dirty socks for a week until they hired a new one. Mary then went to work for a lawyer, until seven of the eight household members developed typhoid. Oddly, Mary wasn’t putting any of this together.

In 1906, she took a position in Oyster Bay, Long Island, and within two weeks ten of eleven family members were hospitalized with typhoid. She changed jobs again (perhaps she was starting to catch on), and similar occurrences happened in three more households.She worked as a cook flett-letter1or the family of a wealthy New York banker, Charles Henry Warren. When the Warrens rented a house in Oyster Bay for the summer of 1906, Mallon came along. From August 27 to September 3, six of the eleven people in the family came down with typhoid fever. The disease at that time was “unusual” in Oyster Bay, according to three medical doctors who practiced there.Mary was subsequently hired by other families, and outbreaks followed her wherever she went. If that isn’t one of those things that make you go hmmmm…

In late 1906, one family hired a typhoid researcher named George Soperto investigate. Soper published the results on June 15, 1907 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He believed Mary Mallon might be the source of the outbreak. Soper discovered the common element in the outbreaks was an unmarried, heavyset Irish cook, about forty years old. No one knew her whereabouts. After each case she left and gave no forwarding address.mary Soper traced her to an active outbreak in a Park Avenue penthouse — two servants were hospitalized and the daughter of the family died. When Soper approached Mallon about her possible role in spreading typhoid, she adamantly rejected his request for urine and stool samples. Since Mary refused to give urine and stool samples, he decided to compile a five-year history of Mary’s employment. Soper found that of the eight families that hired Mallon as a cook, seven claimed to have gotten typhoid fever. Oops. On his next visit, he brought another doctor with him but again was turned away. During a later encounter when Mary was herself hospitalized, he told her he would write a book and give her all the royalties. She angrily rejected his proposal and locked herself in the bathroom until he left.

The New York City Health Department finally sent Dr. Sara Josephine Baker to talk to Mary Mallon. Baker stated “by that time she was convinced that the law was only persecuting her when she had done nothing wrong.” A few days later, Baker arrived at Mary’s workplace with several police officers, who took her into custody. Mary attracted so much media attention that in a 1908 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association she was called “typhoid Mary“. Later, in a textbook that defined typhoid fever, she was called “Typhoid Mary” with a capital “T”. Mary’s goose was cooked (pun). Under questioning, Mary said she rarely washed her hands when cooking and felt there was no need to do so. That sounds gross but in the late 19th century, it wasn’t unusual. Cultures of Mary’s urine and stools, taken forcibly with the help of prison matrons, (try to erase that image) revealed that her gallbladder was teeming with typhoid salmonella. Ewww. She refused to have her gallbladder extracted or to give up her occupation as a cook, maintaining stubbornly that she did not carry any disease. Not the smartest legal strategy the NYCHD ever witnessed. I mean, all she had to do was toss the gallbladder and she might even have been allowed to keep working as a cook.

The New York City Health Inspector determined her to be a carrier. Under sections 1169 and 1170 of the Greater New York Charter, Mary was held in isolation for three years at a clinic located on North Brother Island. Eventually, Dr. Eugene H. Porter, the New York State Commissioner of Health, decided that disease carriers should no longer be kept in isolation. Mary could be freed if she agreed to stop working as a cook and take reasonable steps to prevent transmitting typhoid to others. On February 19, 1910, Mary agreed that she “[was] prepared to change her occupation (that of a cook), and would give assurance by affidavit that she would upon her release take such hygienic precautions as would protect those with whom she came in contact, from infection“. Good girl. That’s more like it. She was released from quarantine and returned to the mainland. Upon her release, Mary was given a job as a laundress, which paid less than cooking. She soon changed her name to Mary Brown, and stupidly returned to her old occupation.

For the next five years, she worked in a number of kitchens; wherever she worked, there were outbreaks of typhoid. However she changed jobs frequently, and Dr. Soper was unable to find her. In 1915, a serious epidemic of typhoid erupted among the staff of New York’s Sloane maryHospital for Women, with twenty-five cases and two fatalities. City health authorities investigated and discovered that an Irish-American woman matching Mallon’s description had suddenly disappeared from the kitchen. The police tracked her to an estate on Long Island. Public health authorities arrested Typhoid Mary, returning her to quarantine on North Brother Island on March 27, 1915. She was confined there for the remainder of her life. While incarcerated, Mary penned a heartfelt letter to New York authorities, begging for her release. None was forthcoming. Well, Mary had her chance. I don’t know that she should have been banned to the island until she died but she did kill many people in full knowledge that she carried the typhoid virus in her gallbladder. I mean remove it already. Mallon became a minor celebrity, and was interviewed by journalists, who were forbidden to accept even a glass of water from her. Later, she was allowed to work as a technician in the island’s laboratory, washing bottles.

It was later discovered that there were hundreds of healthy typhoid carriers living in New York but none were quarantined as long as Mary Mallon. A bit of a political prisoner, I should think. Of course nowadays banishing Mary to North Brother Island would violate her human rights. Mary would have probably not been convicted of manslaughter in any of the deaths she caused before the cultures of her feces and urine were taken, if it hadn’t been fully determined that she was a carrier for typhoid. And to simply release her and send her back to New York without training her to take up an occupation that would pay as well as cooking was unfair. Nope, that wouldn’t go over well today. In fact she’d sue the city for defamation of character and trying to harvest her organs when she was still alive.  And she’d probably win, too. Anybody hungry?

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments