July 08, 2011
Armchair juries across America erupted in rage on Tuesday when a real jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008. After nearly three years of exposure to rancid details of a decomposing, duct-taped toddler, a car trunk that stunk of dead tot, and an apparently remorseless party-animal mother who refracted blame onto everything in the universe except herself, most casual voyeurs assumed she was guilty and were furious they couldn’t vicariously bask in her comeuppance.
The huge question-marked cutout silhouette in the entire controversy is Caylee’s father, easily the lowest-profile character in the whole sordid saga. Although Caylee’s grandfather was dragged into the stomach-churning media maelstrom and hauled before the billions of exploding flashbulbs, there was scant mention of her biological father. If he’d been acquitted of murder charges rather than her mother, would the calls for vengeance have been louder or softer?
Although there tends to be a public perception that children are most at risk of being murdered by drooling strangers who slowly cruise neighborhoods in dark-windowed cars enticing their prey with lollipops, an estimated nine in ten preschool murder victims are killed by their family members or their family’s friends and acquaintances. Fully six in ten are murdered by their own parents. Even more startling, at least in a culture that tends to presume male guilt and female innocence, children appear equally as likely to be murdered by their mothers than by their fathers.
But despite the fact that mothers and fathers appear to murder their children at equal rates, the criminal-justice system does not treat them equally. Mirroring what appears to be a more general trend, the law tends to view men who murder their children as evil and entirely deserving of punishment, while women are depicted as emotionally troubled and in sore need of counseling. When a father kills his child, one rarely hears about depression and loneliness and lack of support and limited options. A 1969 study by child-murder expert Dr. Philip Resnick found that fathers convicted of murdering their children were three times more likely to be imprisoned than mothers, whereas convicted mothers were almost five times more likely than fathers to be hospitalized for “mental illness.”
A crucial part of what constitutes true human equality is the potential to be willfully malicious—even when it comes to deliberately snuffing the fruit of one’s loins—so we’ve selected a stomach-churning array of mothers who murdered their children beyond the shadow of judicial doubt. We’ve had to skip over arm-amputator Dena Schlosser, bathtub-drowner Andrea Yates, child-stabber Jeanette Hawes, and skull-smasher Deanna Laney because they all got free tickets to the nuthouse by means of what we consider to be the largely dubious “insanity defense.”
The following cases all involve mothers whose guilt was so obvious, judges and juries were not swayed by the rad-fem delusion that women are somehow morally superior but never personally responsible.
The All-Time Intercontinental World Heavyweight Champion for Maternal Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy, Tinning oversaw nine of her children’s deaths during a fourteen-year stretch before officials said to themselves, “Hey, this seems a little suspicious.” Tinning’s third child Jennifer was the first to join the Choir Invisible in 1971. Her death was blamed on spinal meningitis, but it’s been posited that her infection may have been acquired during her mother’s failed late-term coat-hanger abortion attempt. Subsequent child fatalities were blamed on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, as Tinning toted baby corpse after baby corpse into hospital emergency rooms. But since that explanation couldn’t account for the death of four-year-old Barbara Tinning, physicians speculated that perhaps Marybeth’s children were afflicted with some new, undiscovered genetic syndrome. Genetic causes were discounted in 1981 when an adopted son, Michael Tinning, also wound up dead. Tinning eventually confessed to killing only three of her children and subsequently recanted her confession. She was convicted only of the ninth murder, the 1985 smothering of Tami Lynne Tinning, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. During a 2009 parole hearing, Tinning explained that she murdered Tami Lynne because “I was going through bad times.” Her parole was denied.