Thursday, August 25, 2011

“I guess I did it to get revenge": Mrs. Flodstrom's Reason for Murdering Her Baby Son - 1954


3 articles on the Flodstrom case:

FULL TEXT: San Jose, Oct. 13. – “I guess I did it to get revenge on my husband for picking on me.”

That was the reason given by 19-year-old Mrs. Shirley Flodstrom who confessed to police yesterday that she strangled her six months old son by forcing a pajama sleeve down his throat.

The baby, David Andrew, died last Wednesday. At first the death was listed as accidental strangulation, but police officers, headed by Chief of Detectives Bart L. Collins, continued to investigate when Mrs. Flodstrom failed to show any emotion over the baby’s death.

The mother was questioned several times. Collins reported that he questioned her again at length yesterday and she broke down and confessed she had killed the child.

“I was upset,” Collins quoted her as saying. “My husband had been picking on me all morning. The baby was fussy and wouldn’t sleep.”

“Dick had gone to work. Suddenly everything got black. I remember it all. I stuffed the pajama sleeve in his mouth until he stopped breathing.”

“It was to repay my husband. I didn’t think of it long, though. I just popped into my head.”

According to the police reports, the baby died about 11 a. m. last Wednesday. Mrs. Flodstrom called her husband, Richard, 23, a stock clerk at a San Jose paper company, at his place of employment shortly afterwards. He summoned an ambulance and rushed home.

He told police he had been satisfied with his wife’s explanation that the baby had strangled accidentally.

Collins said her started wondering about the death when Mrs. Flodstrom too everything so calmly. After questioning her, he learned that another of the couple’s children had died in Monterey in January.

“The coroner’s office in Monterey says that the death was listed as caused by pneumonia, but that there were certain circumstances about it which made them all suspicious down there,” Collins said.

Monterey police said the child, Richard Jr., 10 months old, was found dead with a corner of a towel stuffed in his mouth.

An autopsy on January 28 showed that the baby had pneumonia, and the matter was dropped. At the time, Richard Flodstrom was stationed at Fort Ord.

Mrs. Flodstrom is being held at the County Jail for investigation of murder.

[“Wife Admits Killing Baby to Get Even With Spouse,” Oakland Tribune (Ca.), Oct. 13, 1954, p. 8]

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FULL TEXT: San Jose – The attorney for a 19-year-old. mother charged with strangling her 6-month-old son says she repudiates a confession which police contend she gave them.

Byron Snow, attorney for Mrs. Shirley Lang Flodstrom, said his client didn't know what she was saying when she told police she had stuffed a pajama sleeve down the throat of her baby son, David, last week.

Officers quoted Mrs. Flodstrom as saying she strangled the child “to repay my husband” for two years of nagging and bickering. Snow, however, said Mrs. Flodstrom was worn out by five days of questioning about David's death and the death of another son, 10-month-old Richard, last January in Monterey.

A murder complaint was filed against the young mother yesterday and Municipal Judge Percy O'Connor set Oct, 22 for entering of a plea and preliminary examination.

Snow, dean of the law school at nearby Santa Clara University, said he entered the case at the request of Mrs. Flodstrom's 23-year-old husband, Richard, a paper-company stock clerk. Snow said Flodstrom told him he" and his wife are "still very much in love."

Police said this story conflicted with what Flodstrom told them. Authorities, meanwhile said they have received no report from Monterey about the death of the Flodstrom's other son. A coroner’s report attributed the boy's death to pneumonia. The report said the baby was found dead with the corner of a towel stuffed in his mouth.

[“Attorney Claims Mother Denies Slaying Child,” The Bakersfield Californian (Ca.), Oct. 14, 1954, p. 2]

***
 
FULL TEXT: The release of Mrs. Shirley Ann Flodstrom, 18, San Joss mother accused of murdering her six months old child, was ordered today by the State District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

The court acted on a writ of habeas corpus petition sought by Mrs. Flodstrom’s attorney, Byron J. Snow, and held that there was insufficient evidence introduced at the preliminary hearing to hold her on the murder charge.

Best evidence that the child’s death might have been caused by a “criminal agency,” the court decision said, would have been the testimony of the coroner, which was not taken at the hearing. The court pointed out that if this omission was inadvertent, the coroner's testimony still could be taken. Mrs. Flodstrom, wife of Richard Flodstrom, 23, a paper company worker in San Jose, was charged with murder after allegedly confessing to police that she stuffed a pajama sleeve in the baby’s mouth on Oct. 6. She later repudiated the confession.

[“Court Frees Young Mother Accused of Killing Baby,” Oakland Tribune (Ca.), Dec. 14, 1954, p. 5]

SEE: Maternal Filicide: Spousal Revenge Motive for similar cases

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