19 Moms Who Killed Their Kids (2023)

By Jim Goad

Megan Huntsman's mugshot, courtesy of Utah Couny Jail.

(Video) Why do children kill their parents?

Thirty-nine-year-old Megan Huntsman of Pleasant Grove, Utah, has allegedly confessed to fatally strangling and suffocating six of her newborn babies from 1996 to 2006.

Acting on a tip from her estranged husband, police searched her home in April 2014and found seven dead infants, six of them stuffed into cardboard boxes. The seventh infant had reportedly been stillborn. A search of court records revealed that apart from a 2011 traffic citation, Huntsman had no criminal record.

(Video) 3 kids killed in West Hills ID'd, mother charged with murder

The technical term for when a mother kills her child is “maternal filicide.” An estimated 200 women kill their children every year in the United States. I use the term “kill” rather than “murder,” because the latter has a legal meaning, and even mothers who deliberately kill their children often are found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity. In fact, a 1969 study conducted by Dr. Phillip Resnick found that when mothers kill their kids, 68% are sent to mental hospitals and only 27% are sent to prison; when fathers kill their children, 72% go to prison and only 14% are hospitalized.

In 1997, a US Department of Justice study found that children under the age of eight are more likely to be killed by their mothers, while those eight and older are likelier to be killed by their fathers. Throughout childhood, sons are more likely to be killed than are daughters.

If you’re looking for examples of female privilege, look no further than those stats.

Presented in alphabetical order, here are 19 other mothers who killed their children.

2. China Arnold

In 2005, China Arnold of Dayton, OH, stuffed her three-week-old daughter into a microwave oven and burned her to death after arguing with her boyfriend about the child’s biological father.

3. Kenisha Berry

A pair of Texas dumpster-divers in 1998 pulled out a bag from a trash bin that they initially thought contained a baby doll’s leg. Instead, it was the corpse of the four-day-old son of daycare worker Kenisha Berry. She had duct-taped his mouth shut, stuffed him into a black plastic bag, and tossed him into the bin, where he died of suffocation.

4. Diane Downs

In 1983, Oregon mother of three Diane Downs drove into a hospital emergency room with her blood-soaked children and a bullet wound in her forearm, claiming a “bushy-haired stranger” had carjacked and shot them. As her story unraveled, it became evident that it was Downs who’d pulled the trigger, killing her seven-year-old daughter.

(Video) ‘She Killed the Kids!’: Lindsay Clancy Paralyzed in Hospital After Allegedly Strangling 3 Kids

5. Brenda Drayton

After a previous hospitalization for falling under the delusion that there were snakes in her body, 29-year-old Brenda Drayton of Flint, MI, strangled her two-year-old daughter to death, believing it had been “the Devil’s baby.” A decade earlier, her infant son had died of malnutrition and dehydration.

6. Shaquan Duley

A disturbingly common M.O. for mothers who kill their kids is to drive them into a body of water until they drown. The case was slightly different in 2010, when Shaquan Duley of South Carolina suffocated her two sons, 18 months and two years old, with her bare hands in a motel room before strapping them into car seats and rolling them into a river.

7. Dora Luz Durenrostro

In 1994, Dora Luz Durenrostro of San Jacinto, CA, stabbed three of her children to death—two daughters aged four and nine as well as her eight-year-old son. A police officer remarked remarked that Durenrostro “never showed remorse or sadness, even after we told her we found the body of her third child.”

8. Susan Eubanks

At the age of 33, Susan Eubanks shot four of her sons—ages 14, seven, six, and four—to death “execution style” in her San Marcos, CA home. She allegedly blamed her alcoholic parents and subpar mental-health treatment.

9. Jeanette Hawes

Early in 2009, Jeanette Michelle Hawes of Augusta, GA, walked into a convenience-store bathroom and stabbed her three-year-old daughter Shakayla and one-year-old son Jordan to death. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

10. Debra Jenner-Tyler

In 1987, using a kitchen knife and a “metal toy airplane,” South Dakotan Debra Jenner-Tyler stabbed her three-year-old daughter Abby Lynn 70 times, killing her. Jenner-Tyler claimed she “had been working a lot,” was “under a lot of stress,” and that her daughter had been acting “very finicky.”

11. Michelle Kehoe

After initially claiming one morning in 2008 that her two sons had been abducted, Iowan Michelle Kehoe was found guilty of murder by a jury who heard audiotape of her son Sean, seven at the time she attempted to kill him, testifying how she duct-taped his eyes and mouth before slashing his throat. She had done the same to her two-year-old son Seth, murdering him in the process.

(Video) Mom Allegedly Strangled Her 3 Children to Death

12. Deanna Laney

Late one night in May 2003, Deanna Laney awoke and led her two oldest sons, eight-year-old Joshua and six-year-old Luke, outside her home, where she proceeded to smash in their skulls with a giant rock. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

13. Christina Miracle

The ominously named Christina Miracle of Miami Township, OH, killed her six-year-old son in a “bizarre religious ceremony” in whichshe allegedly thought she was resurrecting her dead brother while baptizing her son. The child was apparently beaten before being suffocated to death.

14. Frances Newton

After taking out life insurance policies on family members and herself, 21-year-old Frances Newton of Houston, Texas used her boyfriend’s gun to kill her husband, her seven-year-old son, and her 21-month-old daughter in April 1987. She received the death penalty and died from alethal injection in 2005.

15. Robin Lee Row


In 1992, Robin Lee Row—infamous for being Idaho’s only female Death Row inmate—apparently turned off the smoke alarm in an apartment where her estranged husband, ten-year-old son, and eight-year-old daughter were living, squirted a liquid accelerant all over the premises, and set it ablaze, killing all of them. She had previously collected $28,000 in a life-insurance policy for another son who had died in 1980 when his blankets caught fire from a portable heater.

16. Deena Schlossser

In November of 2004, Deena Schlosser used a knife to amputate both arms of her 11-month-old daughter, killing her. Police arrived at the scene to find a blood-soaked Schlosser, knife in hand, singing songs to Jesus. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

17. Susan Smith

In 1994, South Carolinian Susan Smith told police that a black man had stolen her car and abucted her two sons, three-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex. In truth, she had strapped them to car seats and pushed the car into a lake, drowning them.

18. Marybeth Tinning


(Video) Family of 19-year-old who died moments after reading his mission call says he was 'always peaceful'

Marybeth Tinning’s case is most similar to that of Utah’s Megan Huntsman in that she is apparently a serial killer—i.e., she allegedlysnuffedher children in a series of events scattered over years—rather than killingthem all in one shot. She oversaw the deaths of nine of her children, one of whom was adopted, during a fourteen-year stretch ending in 1985. She confessed to smothering three of them but was convicted of only one murder and is currently serving a life sentence.

19. Andrea Yates

One day in June 2001, Andrea Yates methodically drowned all five of her children—aged seven years down to six months—in the bathtub of her home in Houston, TX. She told the police and psychiatrists that Satan had ordered her to kill them so that they could be saved from hell. Like so many other killer moms, she successfully copped an insanity plea. 19 Moms Who Killed Their Kids (3)


Who was the mom who killed her children in the 1990s? ›

Susan Leigh Smith (née Vaughan; born September 26, 1971) is an American woman who was convicted of murdering her two sons, three-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alexander, in 1994 by drowning them in a South Carolina lake.

Who was the infamous woman who killed her children? ›

Lori Vallow Daybell, the Idaho mother whose case has garnered widespread notoriety around the world, was found guilty Friday of killing her two youngest children and her husband's former wife. A seven-man and five-woman Idaho jury rendered their verdict after deliberating for seven hours following a five-week trial.

What happened to Greg Ousley? ›

At the young age of fourteen, Ousley was sentenced sixty years in prison for murdering his parents in 1993. The case was quite controversial as there was blatant evidence that his actions were premeditated , yet he was still a minor.

What was the name of the woman who drowned her two sons? ›

On October 25, 1994, Susan Smith told police that she had been carjacked by a Black man who had taken off with her two young sons still in her car. For nine days, she made tearful pleas for their safe return. But it was all a lie.

Where is Michelle Kehoe now? ›

Kehoe faces a sentence of life in prison without parole. Kehoe's attorneys presented an insanity defense, arguing that she believed she was trying to save her sons from a life of suffering when she cut their throats and her own. Her first suicide attempt occurred in 1996, according to testimony.

Where is Lindsey Lowe now? ›

She is now living with her parents and working without a date set for a new trial. GALLATIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — The mother once convicted of killing her newborn twins is now out of prison and working a job, with her conviction overturned just last month.

Who was the female serial killer of babies? ›

Amelia Elizabeth Dyer (née Hobley; 1836 – 10 June 1896), popularly dubbed the Ogress of Reading, was an English serial killer who murdered infants in her care over a thirty-year period during the Victorian era.

Who was the serial killer that wore his mother? ›

Ed Gein
Resting placePlainfield Cemetery
Other namesEddie The Mad Butcher The Plainfield Ghoul The Plainfield Butcher The Butcher of Plainfield
OccupationNumerous unspecified jobs
Conviction(s)First degree murder (later found legally insane)
12 more rows

Who was the woman that drowned all her children? ›

Andrea Pia Yates (née Kennedy; born July 3, 1964) is an American woman from Houston, Texas, who confessed to drowning her five children in their bathtub on June 20, 2001.

Who was the youngest inmate in Indiana history? ›

John Baniszewski

The third-oldest of the Baniszewski children and an active participant in Sylvia's torture, John was 12 when she died. Convicted of manslaughter, he became the Indiana State Reformatory's youngest inmate, serving just two years before being released.

What happened to Kenneth Ousley? ›

Ousley would accept a plea deal in 1993 to second degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

How old was Greg Ousley? ›

Today's New York Times Sunday magazine contains a fascinating article about Greg Ousley, a 33-year-old Indiana man who is in prison for killing his parents when he was 14 years old.

Who were the three sisters found in the pond? ›

Three young siblings were pulled out of a neighbor's pond dead, and believed to have drowned. Then, in March, the incident made national headlines when authorities announced autopsy results showing the sisters had not died by accident — they'd been strangled to death before someone threw their bodies in the pond.

What happened to the mother who drowned her children? ›

HOUSTON – A Houston mother who drowned her two children, ages 5 and 7, and then hid their bodies under a neighbor's house in 2016, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder on Monday in exchange for 40 years in prison, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said.

Were the boys that drowned related? ›

Four boys who fell through an icy lake in Solihull drowned after deciding to skim stones and feed the ducks, a court has heard. Jack Johnson, 10, Thomas Stewart, 11, and his cousins, Finlay Butler, eight, and Samuel Butler, six, all died after falling into Babbs Mill Lake on 11 December last year.

Who was the female serial killer in the 90s? ›

Aileen Wuornos, in full Aileen Carol Wuornos, originally Aileen Pittman, (born February 29, 1956, Rochester, Michigan, U.S.—died October 9, 2002, Starke, Florida), American serial killer who murdered at least seven people in 1989–90.

What female serial killer killed children? ›

Marie Noe is an American woman convicted in 1999 of murdering eight of her children between 1949 and 1968. Waneta Hoyt was an American serial killer who was convicted of killing all five of her children between 1965 and 1971.

Who is the lady who killed her kids documentary? ›

Vallow, whose case was the subject of the Netflix true-crime documentary series Sins of Our Mother, claimed to be a goddess tasked with ushering in the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Who was the mom that killed her children in the bathtub? ›

5 Things To Know About Andrea Yates, The Mom Who Drowned Her 5 Kids In The Bathtub. On June 20, 2001, mother of five Andrea Yates drowned her children, who ranged in age from six months to seven years, in the bathtub at her home in Houston, Texas.


1. Timeline of the murders of three children allegedly killed by their mother
(12 News)
2. 'My children are dead' - Mother arrested after children stabbed
3. Mom Gets Death Threats for Method of Teaching Kids to Float
(Inside Edition)
4. Idaho mother, husband charged with murder of her 2 children
(ABC News)
5. Condition that makes mothers kill their own children | 60 Minutes Australia
(60 Minutes Australia)
6. Records show troubled past between parents of 2 children allegedly killed by their mother
(WPLG Local 10)
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