Female Killers · Scotland

8 year old suspected of being killed by neighbor who scared her to death

April 21, 1934
Aberdeen, Scotland
The body of missing 8-year-old Helen Priestly is found in a sack under stairs in her tenement

Popular theory holds a neighbor, Jeanie Donald, tired of the child ringing her doorbell and disappearing, jumped out at the child to scare her. The fright startled Helen to the point the child choked to death on her own vomit. Mrs. Donald, in an effort to throw suspicion from herself, used a blunt instrument to simulate rape of the child in hopes investigators would believe the false motive.

Suspicion fell on the Donalds almost immediately; Mrs. Donald had previously hit Helen after the child was cheeky to her. Mr. Donald was suspected originally due to the seeming sexual nature of the death, but when autopsy revealed no rape had occurred, Mrs. Donald was indicted instead. She was found guilty and given a death sentence, though her sentence was later commuted to life. She was released from jail in 1944, and died in 1976.

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