On January 20, 1972, Marybeth Tinning rushed her two-year-old son, Joseph Jr., to the emergency room in Schenectady, NY. She claimed he’d suffered some kind of seizure, but doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with him. Hours later, she returned again and, this time, little Joseph Jr. was dead. Tinning said she’d put him to bed, then found him tangled in the sheets. It seemed a horribly tragic loss for Tinning and her husband, Joe — her father had died of a heart attack the previous October and their newborn daughter, Jennifer, had died just a month before, from meningitis and had never even left the hospital.
Police investigated, the but there was no evidence of a crime. However, less than six weeks later, Tinning returned to the emergency room with their remaining child, Barbara, age 4. The doctors wanted to keep Barbara, but Tinning insisted on taking her home. Hours later, Tinning returned with an unconscious Barabara, who later died. All three Tinning children had died within 90 days of each other.
Sadly, it didn’t end there. Over the years, the Tinnings continued to have more children, and even adopted an infant, and most of them survived only a few months. Some deaths were blamed on SIDS, though the odds of it occurring more than once to the same family are astronomical. Doctors did all kinds of studies to see if the problem was genetic, which seemed to be ruled out when their adopted son, Michael, died as well. Questions were asked, but not enough people from different organizations put their information together to launch an investigation. Each time the Tinnings had another child, some people would wonder how long the baby would live.
It wasn’t until the death of the Tinning’s ninth child, Tami Lynne in 1985 (fourteen years after her killing spree began), that police finally arrested her. Tinning confessed to smothering Tami Lynne with a pillow, then confessed to killing two of the others. Later, she tried to recant her testimony. She was eventually convicted in of murdering Tami Lynne, the only one for which police could obtain enough evidence. Efforts were made to try her for two others, but were later dropped. She was convicted of second degree murder in July, 1987, and is currently up for parole.