Denmark · Female Killers

The death of Dagmar Overby, baby farmer

May 6, 1929
Copenhagen, Denmark
Baby farmer Dagmar Overby (alt. spelling: Overbye) dies in prison

Baby farming was the practice of accepting children (and a small adoption fee) whose parents were unable to care for them, then killing the children for profit. The adoption fee was intended to provide food and other necessities for the children until they could be adopted by new families. Baby farmers realized they could make money if the child left their care early, either by speedy adoptions or, as was more often the case, by death.

Overby had run her baby farmer service from 1913 to 1920, and was found out when a young mother named Karoline Aagesen changed her mind the day after giving her infant daughter into Overby’s care. Overby tried to claim she couldn’t remember the baby’s new address and Aagesen contacted police. Upon searching Overby’s house, police first found the girl’s clothing. They then found her bones and cremated remains in a stove.

Overby was arrested and confessed to the murders of 16 children, though she was only charged with 9. She is suspected of killing at least 25 including one of her own children who died under suspicious circumstances. Overby was sentenced to death in 1921 but her term was commuted to life imprisonment shortly thereafter. She was affected by prison psychosis (a dissociative disorder that most often occurs with inmates) in January 1929. Her condition worsened until she died in prison at the age of 43.

Sources:
Jensen, Karen Søndergaard. Dagmar Overby: Engelmagersken. 2007
“Dagmar Overbye.” Killer Cloud. https://killer.cloud/serial-killers/show/146/dagmar-overbye
Graham, Jane. “The shocking case of the Vesterbro baby burner.” CPH Post. August 15, 2016. Accessed: May 6, 2019. http://cphpost.dk/history/the-shocking-case-of-the-vesterbro-baby-burner.html
“Saves Slayer of Eight Babies.” The Roberts Herald. May 11, 1921

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