Thursday, September 24, 2015

Leila Banks, Serial Baby-Killer in Harlem (NYC) – 1925

NOTE: This is the only report on this African-American case so far accessible. The story appears in an out-of town African-American paper, so we can be sure that eventually more details will become available as more papers are scanned and posted in online sources. The other Manhattan baby farmer case, Helen Geisen-Volk, was a national story for months.


FULL TEXT: On complaint of Superintendent Pisarra, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Mrs. Lelia Banks, of No. 2153 Seventh Avenue, was locked up in the West One Hundred and Twenty-third street police station, charged with violating the section of the penal code relating of the boarding of children without a permit.

Ten children were taken from Mrs. Banks’ top floor flat to Bellevue Hospital.

Three children Mrs. Banks “boarded” died within the last month, according to Mr. Pisarra. They were, he said, David Cook, one year old, who died last week in the Harlem Hospital; Albert Dougherty, one month old, who died three weeks ago in Mrs. Banks’ apartment, and Morris Butler, six months old, who died two weeks ago in the infantorium.

According to Mr. Pisarra, Mrs. Banks occupied an eight-room apartment. The children she had in charge were kept in two front rooms, he said.

[“Harlem Woman Held As ‘Baby Farmer’ When Three Die and Ten Go To Hospital,” The Pittsburgh Courier (Pa.), Jun. 27, 1925, p. 6]


NOTE: The Pittsburgh Courier was an African-American newspaper published in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1907 until October 22, 1966.


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



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