Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ten Serial-Killer Moms – Finland, 1750-1896

A new article lists ten female serial killer cases which took place in Finland from 1750 through 1896.

The article, whose abstract is copied below, appears in a special issue of the academic journal The History of the Family, which is dedicated to exploring “patriarchal values.” The author’s use of an obsolete definition of serial killers as being exclusively of the male sex (which runs contrary to current U. S. classification of serial killers, such as that used by the FBI) allows her to develop a “non-patriarchal” term for the serial murder of newborns by a mother through the invention of an innocuous and vague new classification term “birth controller.” It might be argued that this proposal has a distinctly gynocentric quality to it.


Abstract: This article examines multiple infanticide in early modern Finland in which the same woman killed several newborns after repeated hidden pregnancies and childbirths. A well-documented case in Lohja, Nummi and Pusula Court of Assizes in 1874 is compared with nine other recurrent infanticides in Finland in the period 1750–1896. The context of the series of crimes and the reasons why it took so long to apprehend the murderers differed from the majority of reported infanticides, which were quite unplanned and the perpetrators of which were apprehended within days of the act. These offenders were serial killers who experienced a need to kill even if they were not literally serial killers according to modern conceptions of male-oriented serial killing. They did not deliberately get themselves pregnant with men in order to obtain psychological gratification from killing newborn babies. Rather, they resorted to killing several of their illegitimate babies as a solution of birth control because their first such crime went unreported or unprosecuted, probably as a result of the complicity of others. Such a perpetrator in the early modern age is labeled a ‘love-child murderess’ or a ‘burker of newborns’, depending on her relationship with the father or fathers of the victims. Serial killings of newborn babies as a solution of birth control continue to exist in modern times as serial neonaticide. It is suggested that a perpetrator of this category of crime in all ages be labeled a ‘birth controller’.

[Mona Rautelin, “Female serial killers in the early modern age?Recurrent infanticide in Finland 1750–1896,” The History of the Family, Volume 18, Issue 3, 2013 (Special issue: Domestic Disturbances, Patriarchal Values: Violence, Family and Sexuality in Early Modern Europe)]


For more cases of this type, see Serial Baby-Killer Moms.


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