serial killers by name [w] amazon
     
  WOODS Martha *... USA ... ... ... 7
  1946 1969 nationwide

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Verdict/Urteil: Life / Lebenslang
 
 

An Army wife who followed her husband around the country from one military base to the next, Martha Woods also suffered from the bizarre mental illness dubbed Munchausens syndrome by proxy. Victims of this rare condition are driven to seek attention or sympathy by fabricating ailments for their loved ones, sometimes inflicting deliberate harm to support their claims of mysterious illness. In this case, the quirk cost seven children their lives. Marthas victims included three of her own children, a nephew, a niece, a neighbors child, and the son she adopted when targets grew scarce. The cross-country killing spree lasted for most of a quarter-century, from 1946 to 1969. Geography was Marthas friend, preventing medical practitioners in various locations from comparing notes and thus connecting her sequential crimes, until her luck ran out at last in Baltimore. Marthas pattern was always the same, involving a rush to the nearest hospital with an unconscious baby in her arms. Each time, the infant was alone in Marthas care when it abruptly, inexplicably stopped breathing. The children were revived, sent home with Woods, but they inevitably suffered more attacks within a span of hours or days. Altogether, police calculated in hindsight, nine children had suffered a total of twenty-seven life-threatening respiratory attacks, with seven resulting in death. The first six deaths were listed as natural, though symptoms were consistent with deliberate suffocation. Aside from her penchant for smothering infants, Woods also displayed the typical Munchausens trait of pathological lying. Following the adoption of daughter Judy, she complained of threats from the girls biological parents. They had turned up on her doorstep, Martha claimed, demanding their daughter back, threatening her life when she refused. Faceless strangers were circling her home in a car at odd hours, and someone had tried to burn the house. In fact, Army CID agents found flammable liquid splashed on one wall of Marthas home, but they suspected her of staging the scene herself. Judys actual parents were miles away, in another state, and officers finally dismissed the whole story as an elaborate hoax. Time ran out for Woods in Baltimore, when authorities finally turned up evidence of murder in the death of her adopted son, seven-month-old Paul. Intensive psychiatric testing found her sane and fit for trial. The judge admitted evidence from other deaths to prove the case on Paul, and Martha was convicted after five months of testimony, sentenced to life imprisonment on one count of first-degree murder.

An Army wife who followed her husband around the country from one military base to the next, Martha Woods also suffered from the bizarre mental illness dubbed Munchausens syndrome by proxy. Victims of this rare condition are driven to seek attention or sympathy by fabricating ailments for their loved ones, sometimes inflicting deliberate harm to support their claims of mysterious illness. In this case, the quirk cost seven children their lives. Marthas victims included three of her own children, a nephew, a niece, a neighbors child, and the son she adopted when targets grew scarce. The cross-country killing spree lasted for most of a quarter-century, from 1946 to 1969. Geography was Marthas friend, preventing medical practitioners in various locations from comparing notes and thus connecting her sequential crimes, until her luck ran out at last in Baltimore. Marthas pattern was always the same, involving a rush to the nearest hospital with an unconscious baby in her arms. Each time, the infant was alone in Marthas care when it abruptly, inexplicably stopped breathing. The children were revived, sent home with Woods, but they inevitably suffered more attacks within a span of hours or days. Altogether, police calculated in hindsight, nine children had suffered a total of twenty-seven life-threatening respiratory attacks, with seven resulting in death. The first six deaths were listed as natural, though symptoms were consistent with deliberate suffocation. Aside from her penchant for smothering infants, Woods also displayed the typical Munchausens trait of pathological lying. Following the adoption of daughter Judy, she complained of threats from the girls biological parents. They had turned up on her doorstep, Martha claimed, demanding their daughter back, threatening her life when she refused. Faceless strangers were circling her home in a car at odd hours, and someone had tried to burn the house. In fact, Army CID agents found flammable liquid splashed on one wall of Marthas home, but they suspected her of staging the scene herself. Judys actual parents were miles away, in another state, and officers finally dismissed the whole story as an elaborate hoax. Time ran out for Woods in Baltimore, when authorities finally turned up evidence of murder in the death of her adopted son, seven-month-old Paul. Intensive psychiatric testing found her sane and fit for trial. The judge admitted evidence from other deaths to prove the case on Paul, and Martha was convicted after five months of testimony, sentenced to life imprisonment on one count of first-degree murder.

Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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