It is difficult to lock down numbers on the world’s most prolific serial killers. For starters, the very nature of their existence requires that they live in a state of deception around anyone they don’t plan to kill. Secondly, they’re evil sorts, who derive a perverse type of power in keeping their secrets. Thirdly, some are so damn evil and so active over such an extended period of time that they may honestly lose count.
We’re not sure where Amelia Dyer fits into that framework, but we do know the woman possessed a sinister quality that would be hard to find even in today’s political arena. She operated in England during the Victorian age and was “active” for a couple of decades. Her modus operandi was as a “baby farmer,” which is somehow simultaneously not as bad as you’re thinking yet way worse.
Dyer would accept babies into her care — she fronted as a nurse — then would just proceed not to take care of them allowing each to die of neglect. So by “farmer,” it’s not like she was out there running over kids with a thresher, but the alternative was a slower, more prolonged and hopeless death.
Authorities suspect she might have killed hundreds, but the official record shows her to be responsible for only one, little Doris Marmon. Marmon was the young illegitimate daughter of a barmaid, and this being 1896 and the Victorian age when people pretended babies came only in nuclear families (via stork delivery no less), the child’s existence was scandalous.
The elder Marmon aimed to find a suitable home for her child while she got things back on track, then come back for the little girl. Unfortunately, Amelia Dyer answered the ad, and the rest is history. Dyer later confessed that she liked to wrap white edging tape around their little throats and watch the life struggle from their bodies.
Authorities found numerous corpses at Dyer’s abode when she was finally arrested. She was tried and hanged for the one convicted crime on June 10, 1896, in Newgate Prison. Along with Mary Pearcey, she is one of those rare women, who even made the lengthy list of suspects in the contemporary Jack the Ripper case. No evidence exists to support that notion, however. Just to emphasize the point she’s not the kind of girl you want to settle down and have kids with.
(Featured Image: Wikipedia Commons)