A New York woman suspected of murdering eight of her nine children — but who was convicted of only one killing — has been granted parole, and will return to the community where she was arrested, to the chagrin of many.
Marybeth Tinning, who was convicted of killing her four-month-old daughter Tami Lynne on Dec. 20, 1985, but who was also suspected — though never tried or convicted — of also killing seven of her eight other children over a 14-year period, has been granted parole according to CBS news.
Tinning’s case was an early example of Munchausen by proxy, as previously reported by Oxygen.com. The condition, first identified in the 1970s, involves a caregiver fabricating health problems of the person they are caring for with the intent to gain sympathy and attention.
None of Tinning’s nine children lived past the age of four. It was only after the death of Tami Lynne, her ninth child, that Tinning became the focus of a criminal investigation. Tinning’s other children were exhumed and autopsies performed on them, but police were never able to pin any of the other deaths on her.
Still, one handwritten page of a statement she gave to New York State Police investigator William Barnes said:
"I did not do anything to Jennifer, Joseph, Barbara, Michael, Mary Frances, Jonathan. Just these three, Timothy, Nathan [her fourth and fifth children to die] and Tami. I smothered them each with a pillow because I'm not a good mother. I'm not a good mother because of the other children."
Barnes, who knew Tinning since she was 10, said after Tinning was convicted that he thought the attention showered on her after her first child's death may have prompted her to kill the others, according to the Washington Post.
Barnes also said that Tinning told him that when she was a child her father locked her in her room and beat her, the Post reported.
Tinning, now 75, was first eligible for parole in 2007, but had been denied release six times since. The seventh time was the charm, and she told the parole board that she planned to live with her husband, Joe, in upstate New York, near Schenectady, where she lived at the time of the murder.
Residents and their elected officials are outraged by Tinning’s release.
"I don't think Marybeth Tinning should ever see the light of day,” New York Republican State Senator Jim Tedisco told CBS 6, the local CBS affiliate in Albany.
"I think there are just some crimes against humanity where someone should be out of society for the rest of his or her life," Tedisco added.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney also opposed Tinning’s release.
“The problem I have is that she showed absolutely no insight into her behavior or acknowledged in any way what she did,” Carney told People.com.
“I can’t believe you can say she is rehabilitated when she refuses to admit the true extent of her conduct,” he added
A Schenectady resident, Audrey Hotaling, who babysat for Tinning’s son Michael before the 2-year-old’s 1981 death, told People.com “I don’t want to see her face.”
But not everyone believes Tinning should be kept behind bars forever.
Barnes, the cop who obtained Tinning’s confession, also supported her release on parole, believing she was no longer a threat to society,according to the Daily Gazette, a Schenectady newspaper.
Dr. Michael Baden, a well-regarded forensic pathologist who worked with prosecutors on the case, but who sometimes works for the defense as well, told People.com that Tinning does not currently poses a danger to society, saying that “it’s perfectly reasonable to let her get out on parole.”
“She’s not going to kill again,” Baden explained. “She only kills the babies she has.”
[Photo: New York State Dep’t of Correctional Services]