Female Killers · Pennsylvania

Woman arrested for killing 8 of her 10 children

August 5, 1998
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Marie Noe is arrested for the murders of 8 of her 10 children

From 1949 to 1968, the Noe family had a consistent string of seemingly bad luck: none of their children lived past 14 months. Two of the babies never made it home, one being stillborn due to an umbilical cord knot and the other passing away less than 7 hours after birth from a blood disorder.

The 8 babies who lived long enough to be taken home died between 5 days to 14 months of age. Each were considered the victims of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and the Noe’s only gave up trying for children when Marie suffered a uterine rupture during a cesarean section with her last child.

The case didn’t seem to arouse suspicions, and even garnered sympathy after a 1963 article in Life. However, a 1997 book, The Death of Innocents, brought new interest to the case and a 1998 investigative article was published in “Philadelphia” magazine. The article’s author brought all information found to police who arrested Marie.

Marie confessed to smothering 4 of the 8 children murdered, but claimed she didn’t remember how she killed the other 4, though she did accept full responsibility for their deaths. She took a plea deal during trial for a reduced sentence under the condition she agree to psychiatric studies to determine why she killed her own children, and was sentenced to 5 years of house arrest with 20 years probation. The controversial sentence was in part due to the plea agreement as well as Marie being found not to be a danger to society at large, though many citizens expressed outrage at the light punishment.

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