Mother Convicted Of Being A 'Serial Baby Killer' May Soon Be Proven Innocent

Photo: ABC News
Kathleen Folbigg

Called Australia's worst female serial killer, Kathleen Folbigg was found guilty of the murders of her four children Caleb, Patrick, Sarah, and Laura.

These deaths were particularly tragic, with all children found dead before their second birthdays.

But now, nearly 100 scientists have banded together in an effort to prove her innocence.

Is convicted serial killer Kathleen Folbigg actually innocent in the deaths of her children?

New scientific evidence reportedly suggests Folbigg may be innocent and that her children may have died of natural causes. Folbigg's lawyers note that none of her children were healthy at the time of their deaths, and have asked geneticists to review the case.

Researchers Professor Carola Vinuesa and Dr. Todor Arsov sequenced Folbigg's genes and found a genetic mutation called CALM2. This defect of the CALM gene can create heart arrhythmias that can cause cardiac arrest and sudden death in infancy.

A team of 90 scientists have now signed a petition arguing for Folbigg's pardon, arguing that this information proves her innocence.

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How did Kathleen Folbigg's children die?

Folbigg and her husband Craig welcomed a baby boy named Caleb on February 20, 1989. He died 19 days later of SIDS.

Two years later, they had Patrick, who died at the age of 8 months. Patrick suffered from blindness and epilepsy. According to his death certificate, he choked to death.

In 1993, the couple had another baby, Sarah, who died August 30, 1993, from SIDS.

Their last child, Laura, died in March 1999 at the age of 18 months, the cause of death was noted as undetermined.

After a team of geneticists took tissue samples from all the children, it was found that two of her children, Laura and Sarah, had the same mutation as their mother. It was also found that her other two children, Caleb and Patrick, also carried genomes with separate rare genetic variants.

Additionally, Laura was taking pseudoephedrine, which could have triggered cardiac arrhythmia.

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Why did Craig Folbigg believe his wife killed their children?

Folbigg’s husband Craig became suspicious after reading her journal, which led to her arrest and murder charges.

Folbigg journaled her thoughts, which became the damning evidence in her guilty verdict. She wrote that Sarah had left “with a bit of help,” and that Laura would "leave me like Sarah did." When describing herself she said, "Obviously, I am my father's daughter."

In her 2018 hearing, Folbigg explained her journal entries.

She claimed that her journal entries weren’t evidence of her guilt but represented her dark thoughts and how she perceived herself as a failure of a mother, stating, "There's many a time I've said in my journal, that's rather silly.”

Her journal, to her, represented some of her most extreme thoughts.

The 11-day hearing was devoted to looking at forensic pathology, sudden infant death syndrome, and whether genetic issues may have caused the deaths.

Her former husband still believes she is guilty.

His brother John read this statement at the hearing: "We along with the public have endured this process to discover the truth regarding the deaths of our dear Caleb, Patrick, Sarah, and Laura. What has been most devastating, has been, in the end, the answer lay with Kathleen and what she had done.”

Folbigg’s life was already a tragedy before her children died.

When she was 18 months old, Folbigg's father, Thomas Britton, murdered her mother in 1968.

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The two had been fighting about money and Folbigg’s mother walked out. In a drunken rage, Britton stabbed his wife to death on a footpath in Sydney.

She later married Craig Folbigg and the two moved together to New Castle.

During the 2018 hearing, geneticists presented the known information about the genetic factors that may have led to all four children's deaths, but it wasn't taken seriously at the time.

“We would feel exhilarated for Kathleen if she is pardoned. It would send a very strong message that science needs to be taken seriously by the legal system,” Professor Vinuesa told New York Times.

In addition to the genetic mutations found in all the children, in 2015 Professor Stephen Cordner, a Melbourne-based forensic pathologist has re-examined the deaths.

"There is no positive forensic pathology support for the contention that any or all of these children have been killed," he said. "There are no signs of smothering."

If Folbigg is proven innocent of these murders, that means a grieving mother spent 18 years of her life incarcerated for a crime she didn't commit and was branded as a monster responsible for the unthinkable murders of her infant children.

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Leeann Reed is a writer who covers news, pop culture, and love, and relationship topics.