Female Killers · Illinois · Newspaper clippings

Mother kills 7 children, self; husband follows after hearing of the murders

September 30, 1905
Illinois
Julia Markham cuts the throats of her 7 children, sets fire to their bodies, attempts suicide but lives long enough to inform neighbors of the crime, and is followed in death by her husband who shoots himself

Julia had had seven children in eight years, and was suspected to have been in poor mental health. Julia brought each of her seven children into their home one at a time to slice their necks with an axe.

After the children were killed, she laid their bodies on the bed and poured kerosene on them and around the home. Julia then set the house on fire and attempted to slice her own throat with the axe but failed. She then tried to cut her throat with a butcher knife. Her original intent was to lay next to her children to die, but the bed was already on fire, so she fled the home, bleeding and burning, and lost consciousness on her front lawn. Julia was carried to a neighbor’s home where she regained consciousness for a short time. She at first claimed to have been attacked by a vagrant but quickly admitted to the truth, detailing the method of murdering her children and setting their corpses on fire. She also claimed she “killed the children to save them,” asserting they would be safer “in the arms of the Lord than on earth.” She died of her injuries shortly after her confession.

Julia’s husband, Clarence, was informed of the killings and arrived at the family home approximately an hour after Julia died. It was immediately feared he would also attempt suicide and was assigned a guardian to watch him. He managed to evade his guard and, after failing to take his life with a noose, succeeded with a bullet to his head.

The charred remains of the Markham children were collected and buried together in one coffin next to their mother in her own coffin.

The victims were: Clarence (37), Julia (35), Clara (8), Henry (7), Charles (6), Mary (4), Lucy (3), Eliza (15 months), and Asa (alternately spelled Asia, 4 months).

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