Female Killers · Illinois

Woman murders toddler with extension cord

April 19, 1993
Chicago, Illinois
Amanda Wallace stands her 2-year-old son Joseph on a chair, ties an extension cord between a transom and his neck, waves to him as he waves goodbye, and kicks the chair from beneath him causing him to strangle to death in front of her

Wallace had been mentally ill for much of her life, growing up in foster homes and mental institutions. By 9 years old, she had begun self-destructive tendencies including swallowing glass, setting her bed on fire, and stabbing herself repeatedly with needles. Her sister testified of Amanda’s abuse at the hands of their mother, including being whipped by an extension cord for wetting the bed, followed by an eerily similar fate to what Joseph suffered: Amanda, 11 at the time, was placed on a stool, the extension cord used to whip her was tied around her neck while the other end tied around a ceiling light, and the stool was kicked out from under Amanda, though she fell to the ground, escaping death.

Wallace had her children, Joseph and his younger brother, taken by Department of Children and Family Services and placed with a foster family. DCFS then removed the boys from foster care and placed them with their mother despite psychiatrists warning of the dangers. The child protective services at the time was inefficient and overworked, allowing more kids to fall through the cracks; after Joseph’s murder, these issues were addressed allowing for more efficiency in paperwork and additional child advocates on the front lines, who would then have more knowledge of the children, to prevent as many tragedies in the future as possible.

Wallace was sentenced to life without parole in 1996. In 1997, she strangled herself in her cell. She died 3 days later on August 3, 1997.

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