Monday, September 19, 2011

Feiga Noskina, Lithuanian Serial Baby-Killer - 1892


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Our cablegrams have mentioned a shocking series of infant murders in Russia, and the following details are supplied to a London paper from Vilna [now Vilnius, Lithuania], under date May 3: –

The Vilna infanticide scandal, as it is called, has been engaging the attention of the Central Criminal Court here for some days past, and the trial, which is expected to last two or three weeks, has already been attended by revelations of the most shocking description. The indictment contains the names of eleven persons, ten women and one man, all of whom belong to the Jewish race, and the charge against them is that of wholesale and systematic infanticide, deliberately planned and ruthlessly carried out for the sake of gain. Nine of the accused are charged with actual murder, one with attempted murder, and the man Yankel Voinarovitch with harboring the conspirators and conniving at their diabolical plots. The exact number of victims has not been positively ascertained, but the bodies of 65 children, most of them new-born infants, have been traced.

The conspiracy was first discovered in a purely accidental manner, so long ago as June 25, 1889. A man named Pierre Petkovitch was walking in the outskirts of a forest when he observed two Jewish women entering a secluded part of the wood. A bundle which they carried attracted his attention, and he followed the women till he met a couple of shepherds, to whom he communicated his suspicions. Perceiving that they were watched the women took to flight, having meanwhile deposited their bundle under some brushwood. The shepherds followed and overtook them, and an returning to the spot where the bundle had been concealed they found a perfectly nude live child. The women, whose names are Akhesse and Youdes Katzenelenbopen, were handed over to the police, and were about to be tried merely for the abandonment of the infant when another much another much more horrible discovery was made. On the 14th of April, 1890, the bodies of six children, from three to five weeks old, were found in a cesspool. The police then for the first time formed the suspicion that they had to deal with a case of systematic infanticide upon a large scale.

An active search was instituted, and it resulted in the recovery, within a month, of the bodies of no fewer than sixty-five murdered children, which had been thrown into cesspools, hidden away in dark recesses of the neighboring forest, and otherwise disposed of. For a time no trace of the criminals could be discovered. Stringent measures were taken, however, to unravel the mystery. Not only was every accouchese in Vilna brought before the authorities and interrogated on the subject, but numerous arrests were made among the clientele of these women. In the end as many as 61 mothers were found, who acknowledged having given out their children to nurse immediately or soon after their birth. In this manner the intermediaries in these clandestine transactions, or the actual baby fanners them selves, were traced, and these in turn, when arrested, informed upon the Israelitish hags who made a business of destroying the children or otherwise making away with them. While these investigations were proceeding all doubt as to the criminal nature of the traffic was removed by the arrest of a Jewess named Feiga Noskna. This old woman, who is blind, was being led through the streets by a companion on a bitterly cold winter day, when a bundle which she carried excited the suspicion of a police man. He asked for an explanation as to its contents, and receiving an unsatisfactory reply took both women into custody. They screamed for help, and an attempt was made by a number of their co-religionists to rescue them. Several other policemen hurried up in time, however, and the women were conveyed to the lock-up, where their bundle was found to contain the remains of a child, which had evidently perished of cold and hunger.

The discovery and arrest of Noskina’s alleged accomplices speedily followed. The evidence collected in the course of the preliminary investigation, and which is now being laid before the Criminal Court, fairly teems with blood curdling disclosures as to the methods employed in getting rid of the unfortunate children. Many of them were allowed to die of cold and hunger and neglect, and others were poisoned with a decoction of poppy seed; but a large number were violently put to death, being suffocated by means of pillows, or packages of wadding or linen, while others again were strangled by the accused, or drowned in cesspools. The bodies of the murdered children were wrapped up in bundles of rags, and concealed in the woods at the first convenient opportunity. In some instances they were kept for days, both before and after their death, in chests of drawers, baskets, boxes, barrels, and other receptacles, filled with filthy rags, and concealed sometimes in dark and noisome under ground cellars. It has been proved that the members of the gang were accustomed to haunt the railway-station, and proffer their services to young women arriving from the country, and there is reason to fear that many of the latter were aware of the real nature of the traffic to which they lent themselves. It has also been shown that when the children had been effectually got out of the way the accused continued to levy blackmail upon the wretched mothers, in some instances going so far as to place them in situations as nurses and domestic servants, collecting their wages in advance, and maintaining them in a constant state of terror and subservience.

To the ringleader of the gang, Noskina, the murders of 24 infants are attributed. Two other women are charged with the murder of 18 children each; another is alleged to have made away with 15; two with four; two with three; and Aktesee Kartzenelenbogen, one of the two women arrested in the wood by the shepherds nearly three years ago, with two murders. Since the conspiracy was first discovered three of the persons accused have died, and the remaining prisoners are therefore only called upon to answer for 48 out of the known 65 murders. The length of the proceedings is accounted for by the fact that 275 witnesses have had to be called. The case is exciting an enormous amount of interest.

(Our telegrams have announced the result of the trial, the male prisoner and six of the women haying been condemned to terms of hard labor varying from 6 to 20 years.)

[:Wholesale Infanticide In Russia. - Shocking Disclosures.: The South Australian Chronicle, Adelaide, SA, Australia), Jun. 18, 1892, p. 6]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): St. Petersburg. – The trials which have been going on at Vilna for baby farming and murdering have come to a close with a verdict of guilty and of from six to twenty years’ penal servitude. It was shown that in many cases the parents connived at the death of their children. The preliminary inquiries lasted nearly two years each case being thoroughly investigated before arrests were made. The first clue was obtained in 1890, when some one discovered in a cesspool of a wretched hovel in Vilna the bodies of six small children. This led to further searches, and in the end the remains of sixty-five infants were found. Forty men and women were arrested, and 350 witnessed were summoned. The prisoners had gained the name of “angel makers.”

[“Baby Farmers Sentenced.” The Sun (New York, N.Y.), May 5, 1892, p. 2]

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 NOTE: Previous to Mar. 14, 2013, this case was given the name "The Vilna Baby Farmers"

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For more cases of “Baby Farmers,” professional child care providers who murdered children see The Forgotten Serial Killers.

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