Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sarah Whiteling, Philadelphia Serial Killer - 1888

FULL TEXT: Philadelphia, June 13.—One of the most horrible poisoning cases that this city has ever known, has been discovered and the murderers, through the vigilance of Coroner Ashbridge, was yesterday afternoon lodged in jail. John Whiteling, aged thirty-eight years, his alleged wife, aged forty, his alleged daughter, Bertha, aged nine years and his son, Willie, aged two years, lived in the rear of No. 1227 Cadwallader street. John Whiteling died on March 20; Bertha on April 25, and Willie on May 26. The doctors in attendance gave certificates of death respectively for “inflammation of the bowels,” “gastric fever,” and “congestion of the bowels.” There was an insurance on the lives of each, ranging from $200 down to $50. The coroner accidentally hearing on the case, and having his suspicions aroused bad the bodies exhumed and a chemical analysis made of the intestines, and found arsenic in all.

The woman was sent for by the coroner and after denying all knowledge of the crime, made a full confession. She said she was born in Germany and married a man in Iowa named Tom Brown and that Brown died in prison, and in l880 she married John Whiteling in this city. Her daughter Bertha was the child of a man, named Story. Whiteling, she said, was sick much of the time. She procured “rough on rats” and said that her husband committed suicide.

She gave the children the poison, and then summoned a physician, but did not administer the medicine prescribed. She said she could not go out washing with a baby resolved to get rid of Willie; that she was afraid Bertha would grow up a bad woman and she had better die, and that she was if raid if she poisoned them all at once she would be found out.

Mrs. Whiteling came to this city just after the Chicago fire in 1872 and has lived in houses of assignation both here and in Chicago. She is frivolous in manner and was only brought to the consciousness of her position when confronted with the evidence if her crime.

When she had finished her confession she said her conscience was clear and that she would meet her dear children in heaven. An inquest will be held on the bodies on Friday next.

[“Horrible Poisoning Case. - A “Wholesale Poisoning: and a Diabolical Plot Revealed at Philadelphia.” Hamilton Daily Democrat (Oh.), Jun. 13, 1888, p. 1]


FULL TEXT: Philadelphia, Nov. 28.—The jury in the case of Mrs. Sarah Whiteling, who has been on trial for the past three days on a charge of causing the death of her nine-year old daughter by administering poison in April last, brought in a verdict of murder in the first degree this evening, after being out two hours. The crime for which Mrs. Whiteling was tried was one of a series of three with which she is charged, the allegation being that she not only murdered her daughter. Bertha, but also her husband, John Whiteling, aged thirty-eight, and their baby boy, William Whiteling, aged two years, and collected insurances on the lives of her victims amounting in the aggregate to over $350. The wife and mother subsequently confessed her crimes, and said that she had intended to take her own life after completing her deadly work with all the other members of the family, but her courage failed her.

[“Philadelphia’s Borgia. - Mrs. Whiteling, the Wholesale Poisoner, Convicted.” St. Paul Daily Globe (Mn.), Nov. 29, 1888, p. 1]


For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America (as of January 20, 2014, the collection contains 61 cases)


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