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Manual When Mothers Kill: Interviews from Prison

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II Making Sense of the Stories.

Mothers Who Kill Their Children

Cheryl L. Access this eBook from one of our digital partners Table of Contents Introduction. Perhaps teaching women about abuse early in their lives or providing them with more domestic abuse resources can help prevent future such cases.


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Rather, they show how the abuse fits into a larger picture of isolation and limited prospects for a better life. Readers come away with a clear sense of how little these women had in the way of social support that might have helped them cope with the demands of motherhood, and are left to ponder the culpability of those who were in a position to provide this social support, but did not. It provides an extraordinarily insightful humanizing view of how these pariahs adapt to prison and make sense of their crimes. Common symptoms include depression, feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, fear, guilt, the inability to bond with the new baby, and a feeling of worthlessness.

If left untreated, it can lead to postpartum psychosis, which is much more severe and dangerous. Often the mother believes such acts will save the child from a life of misery. In some cases, children are murdered as a result of the mother experiencing a psychotic breakdown brought on by intense feelings of abandonment and jealousy in cases where the father of the children has left the home.

In some cases, the need to seek revenge overtakes reason. Diane Downs , convicted of murder after shooting her three children, one of whom died, in May , was diagnosed as psychotic but was sentenced to life in prison. A look at 11 other women convicted of murdering their children shows that such acts are not as rare as we would like to believe.

Here are their names, crimes, and locations where they are serving as of October unless otherwise noted:. Korbin said that people who know parents who end up killing their children usually see clues that something is wrong with the parents but don't know how to deal with the information:. Share Flipboard Email. Government U. Foreign Policy U. Liberal Politics U. Charles Montaldo is a writer and former licensed private detective who worked with law enforcement and insurance firms investigating crime and fraud.

The truth about Gypsy and her mother only came out after Gypsy arranged for an online boyfriend to murder Dee Dee in Gypsy Rose, who was born in , was a baby when Dee Dee claimed her daughter had sleep apnea. When Gypsy was eight years old, Dee Dee described her as suffering from leukemia and muscular dystrophy and said she required a wheelchair and feeding tube. The list of medical problems that Dee Dee related about her daughter would go on to include seizures, asthma and hearing and visual impairments.

Due to Dee Dee's actions, Gypsy was prescribed a litany of medications and had to sleep using a breathing machine. She also went through multiple surgeries, including procedures on her eyes and removal of her salivary glands. When Gypsy's teeth rotted — perhaps due to her medications, missing salivary glands or neglect — they were pulled out. Yet the truth was that Gypsy could walk, didn't need a feeding tube and did not have cancer. Her head was bald only because her mother shaved off her hair.

Experts believe Dee Dee had a mental illness known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy also called factitious disorder imposed on another , which made her fabricate her daughter's ill health in order to receive attention and sympathy for taking care of a sick child. Medical tests often showed inconclusive or contradictory results regarding Gypsy's diagnoses, but Dee Dee would stop seeing any doctors who questioned her daughter's ailments.

And many caregivers went along with what Dee Dee wanted.

The Story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and Her Mother

She'd had some nurse's training, so she could accurately describe symptoms, and she sometimes gave Gypsy medication to mimic certain conditions. Dee Dee was also charming and seemed devoted to her daughter.


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When Gypsy was old enough to talk, Dee Dee instructed her not to volunteer information during their appointments — she was always the one relating Gypsy's fake medical history. Dee Dee told Gypsy's father, Rod Blanchard, that their daughter had a chromosomal disorder that had led to her many health issues.

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He complimented Dee Dee for her devoted care. When some of Dee Dee's family noticed that Gypsy didn't seem to need a wheelchair and asked questions, Dee Dee and Gypsy moved away. Dee Dee claimed to be a victim of Hurricane Katrina, so she and Gypsy received assistance to relocate from Louisiana to Missouri in There, Dee Dee continued to bring Gypsy to doctor's appointments. Hurricane Katrina also provided an excuse for missing medical files.

Photo: Courtesy of Investigation Discovery. Built by Habitat for Humanity, it was painted pink and had a wheelchair ramp.

Gypsy and Dee Dee also received benefits that included charity-sponsored visits to concerts and Disney World. All along, Dee Dee continued to bask in the attention she received for being a devoted caretaker. When Gypsy was 14, she saw a neurologist in Missouri who came to believe she was a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.