Marybeth Tinning – Munchausen Mother from Hell

Murderous mothers – probably the most notorious and complicated criminals known to the public.  A mother is a symbol of nurturing, love and absolute security. What happens when a mother becomes abusive and turns against her own children?  What dark recess of a mother’s mind allows her to destroy a precious piece of her very self and soul? watch the marybeth tinning story

Marybeth Tinning was one such mother.  Tinning birthed 7 children and adopted 2 all of whom are dead and died within short months and years of one another.  When the 2nd adopted child died, police and the community took a closer look at the supposedly tragic Tinning family history. watch Most Evil – Murderous Women  3:59

In 1971, Tinning lived in Schenectady, New York, with her husband Joe, and 2 children, Barbara Ann, aged 4 and 1-year-old Joseph. Tinning was pregnant with her 3rd child, Jennifer, when Tinning’s father died.  After 3 months, so did her newborn, supposedly of meningitis. A ritual ensued: Tinning washed the infant’s clothes and packed them away along with the infant’s furniture and toys. Perhaps the odd ritual of washing the children’s belongings reflected Tinning’s guilt in an attempt to cleanse her wrongdoings. Two weeks after the funeral, Joseph was brought to the hospital, where he died due to cardiac arrest. One month later, Barbara was brought to the hospital. Tinning took her home against medical advice. Little Barbara died the next day. Barbara was her third child to die within two months. watch Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

Before the funeral, Tinning completed her compulsive ritual of washing and packing away Barbara’s clothes, toys and furniture. Eventually Tinning would be diagnosed with Munchausen by Proxy, a very rare disorder whereby a parent (usually the mother) injures and eventually may kill her offspring in order to garner sympathy and attention from the community. The death rate for Munchausen children is high (10%) compared to children who are physically abused and neglect (4%).Tinning’s past may possibly hold a clue to her abnormal disorder. Tinning was a social isolate as a child with few friends. Her father was inattentive and had the unpleasant habit of locking Tinning in a closet when she cried. Tinning craved his attention and affection but it was never forthcoming. watch munchausen by proxy

In 1973 when she was 30, Tinning’s fourth child, Timothy, died, the death diagnosed as SIDS. Several more children died during the following years. Friends and neighbours ponder whether the Tinning family suffer from a genetic disorder that causes the children’s deaths. Doctors suggested the disturbing possibility of a death gene. What doctors didn’t consider was that children who died of a genetic disease do not die suddenly.  It is a long process that is not unexpected or sudden.  Another infant son named Nathan died exactly 18 months later. The cause was listed as acute pulmonary adema. When asked by friends and relatives why she continued to have babies while possibly suffering from the death gene, Tinning’s odd response was “that’s what women are supposed to do.” A sixth child named Mary Frances died after Michael. Again the cause was listed as SIDS. watch real crime a deadly secret

However in 1981 an adopted son named Michael, also died supposedly of cardiac arrest. In 1985 when Tinning was 42, that she gave birth to Tammy-Lynn , another infant, died that Tinning came under police suspicion, particularly since Tinning was the only person present when the babies died. Finally she was arrested for 9 deaths that occurred in over the course of 14 years. The appearance of several infants who were blue in colour worked against Tinnings. SIDS children do not appear blue in the face.  In fact they look normal, as though they are sleeping. A coroner informed the Schenectady Chief of Police that the Tinning children had died of homicidal asphyxia. Tinning confessed to the suffocation death of 3 of the children, Timothy, Nathan and Tammy-Lynn, stating frankly, “I killed my children.” She didn’t bother to explain that “that’s what women are supposed to do.” She admitted she “just wanted Tammy-Lynn to stop crying,” quite similar to her father’s reaction of locking up Tinning whenever she cried. Her ritual of washing her children’s clothes and belongings wasn’t explained and remains a mystery. read marybeth tinning – crime library

Tinning’s murders of her children may have reflected her need for validation and attention.  Along with the diagnosis of Munchausen by Proxy, Tinning was considered a narcissist with a highly egocentric disposition and a “psychotic core.” She certainly acquired the attention she craved from the justice system, which convicted her for the death of only one daughter (Tammy-Lynn).  She was sentenced to 20 years to life and was eligible for parole in 2007. At the parole board meeting Tinning said, “I have to be honest, and the only thing that I can tell you is that I know that my daughter is dead. I live with it every day,” she continued, “I have no recollection and I can’t believe that I harmed her. I can’t say any more than that.”

Parole denied.

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