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Marybeth Tinning
Background information
Birth name: Marybeth Roe
Born: September 11, 1942 (1942-09-11) (age 67)
Duanesburg, New York
Number of victims: 8 (one child died with legitimate medical issues)
Span of killings: 1972–December 19, 1985
Country: U.S.
State(s): New York
Date apprehended: 1986

Marybeth Tinning (née Roe, born on September 11, 1942) is an American serial killer currently serving a 20 years to life sentence after being convicted of the murder of one of her children. Her case is held to be one of the most extreme cases of Münchausen syndrome by proxy.


Early life

Marybeth Roe was born in Duanesburg, a small town in New York. She and her younger brother both attended Duanesburg High School, where she was an average student. Her father, Alton Roe, worked as a press operator for General Electric.

Over the next few years, she worked in a series of low wage jobs. Eventually, she became a nurse's aide at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady. In 1963, she met Joe Tinning on a blind date. The couple married in spring 1965.

Children's deaths

In the first five years of their marriage, the couple had two children, Barbara and Joseph. In December 1971, Tinning gave birth to a third child, Jennifer. Barely a month later, however, Jennifer died in a Schenectady hospital of severe infection, which was diagnosed as meningitis.

On January 20, 1972, Tinning took Joseph, then two years old, to the Ellis Hospital emergency room. She said he had had some type of seizure. The child was kept under observation for a time and, when doctors could not find anything wrong with him, was sent home. Several hours later, Tinning and her son returned to the ER. This time, however, he was dead. She told doctors that she had placed him in bed and returned later to find that he had turned blue, and was tangled in his sheets.

Not six weeks later, Tinning was back at the same emergency room with her daughter, Barbara (4). She said the little girl had gone into convulsions. Though the doctors wanted the child to stay overnight, Tinning insisted on taking her back home. Several hours later, she returned with Barbara, who was unconscious. The child later died from unknown causes. All three of Tinning's children had died within 90 days of each other. Tinning became pregnant with her fourth child the following year.

On Thanksgiving Day 1973, she gave birth to a son, Timothy. On December 10, just three weeks after his birth, Timothy was brought back to the same hospital — dead. Tinning told doctors she found him lifeless in his crib. Again, doctors found nothing medically wrong. His death was listed officially as SIDS.

Two years later, on March 30, 1975 (Easter Sunday), Tinning gave birth to her fifth child, Nathan. On September 2, she showed up at St. Clare's Hospital with the baby in her arms. He was dead. She said she was driving in her car with the baby in the front seat when she noticed that he had stopped breathing. Again, there seemed to be no explanation for his death.

In 1978, the couple made arrangements to adopt a child. That same year, Tinning became pregnant again. The Tinnings did not cancel the adoption and chose to keep both children. In August 1978, they received a baby boy, Michael, from the adoption agency. Two months later, on October 29, she gave birth to her sixth child, Mary Frances. In January 1979, the baby apparently developed some kind of seizure. She rushed Mary Frances to the emergency room, directly across the street from her apartment, and the staff were able to revive her. On February 20, however, Tinning came running into the same hospital with Mary Frances, who was brain dead. Once again, Tinning said she found the baby unconscious and did not know what had happened to her.

Once Mary Frances was buried, Tinning once again became pregnant. On November 19, she gave birth to her seventh child, Jonathan. In March 1980, she showed up at St. Clare's hospital with Jonathan unconscious. Like her last child, he was successfully revived. Due to the family's history, Jonathan was sent to Boston Hospital where he was thoroughly examined. The doctors could find no valid medical reason why the baby simply stopped breathing. Jonathan was sent home. A few days later, Tinning was back at St. Clare's, this time with a brain dead child. Jonathan died on March 24, 1980.

Less than one year later, on the morning of March 2, 1981, Tinning showed up at her pediatrician's office with Michael, her adopted child, then two-and-a-half years old. He was wrapped in a blanket and unconscious. She told the doctor that she could not wake Michael and had no idea what was wrong. When the doctor examined Michael, he was already dead. Since Michael was adopted, the long-suspected theory that the deaths in the Tinning family had a genetic origin was discarded.

On August 22, 1985, Tinning gave birth to her eighth child, Tami Lynne. On December 19, next-door neighbour Cynthia Walter, who was also a practical nurse, went shopping with Tinning and later visited her home. Later that night, Walter received a frantic telephone call from Tinning. When Walter arrived, she found Tami Lynne lying on a changing table. Walter testified that the child was not moving and she could not feel any pulse or breathing. At the emergency room, the baby was pronounced dead.

Confession and conviction

Suspicion mounted against Tinning, who was always alone when the children died, but there wasn't any evidence of wrong doing. After a police interrogation, however, Tinning confessed to smothering Tami Lynne, Nathan, and Timothy (which she later retracted). Her first attempt for parole was in March 2007. At the parole board meeting Tinning said, "I have to be honest, and the only thing that I can tell you is that I know that my daughter is dead. I live with it every day," she continued, "I have no recollection and I can't believe that I harmed her. I can't say any more than that." Her parole was denied. In late January 2009, Marybeth Tinning went before the parole board for the second time. Tinning stated "I was going through bad times," when she killed her daughter. The parole board again denied her parole, stating that her remorse was "superficial at best." Tinning will be eligible for parole again in January 2011.

See also


  • From Cradle to Grave: The Short Lives and Strange Deaths of Marybeth Tinning's Nine Children, Joyce Egginton. (ISBN 0-515-10301-2)
  • Mothers Who Kill


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