are 24 known Cesarean Kidnapping
cases, 25 if we include the institutional cases of
the 1976-1983 Argentinian “Dirty War.”
FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 4): Philadelphia – A West
Philadelphia woman has been charged with murdering the mother of an abandoned
infant girl. Police said Margaret Sweeney, 26, had been hacked and shot to
death, then buried in a shallow grave after giving birth to another baby by
Detectives said Winifred Ransom, 36, allegedly struck Mrs.
Sweeney at least 20 times with a hatchet and snot her three times. She is
charged with murder, conspiracy; possessing an instrument of crime and
recklessly endangering another person, police said.
Police had been searching for Mrs. Sweeney since Thursday,
when her 18-month old daughter Tammey was found abandoned in a station wagon in
north Philadelphia. Mrs. Sweeney’s two other children live with her father,
William Griffith, in Nesco, N.J.
A newborn baby was found upstairs in Mrs. Ransom’s home.
Police said Mrs. Ransom knocked Mrs. Sweeney unconscious while she was visiting
at the Ransom home. She performed a Caesarian section on Mrs. Sweeney,
apparently because she could have no children of her own and “wanted a baby
badly,” police said.
When the pregnant woman regained consciousness during the
operation, Mrs. Ransom struck her with the hatchet and fired the shots,
officers said. According to police, Mrs. Ransom then buried the dead woman
beneath the floor boards of her kitchen shed.
Police said they were alerted to the murder by Mrs. Ransom’s
common law husband, John, 40, Saturday afternoon. Detectives said they found
the body wrapped in a white sheet inside a plastic bag. A hatchet was also
found in the kitchen, they said.
[“Mother hacked and shot; Baby born amid murder,” Delaware
County Daily Times (Chester, Pa.), Nov. 18, 1974, p. 2]
FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 4): Winifred Ransom, 37, was
sentenced Thursday [Jul. 10] by Common Pleas Court Judge Juanita Kidd Stout to
an indeterminate term in the Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry.
Mrs. Ransom admitted performing the crude Caesarean section
on Margaret Sweeney, 26, of Philadelphia and killing her with a hatchet and two
shots in the head from a 32-caliber revolver. The premature baby survived and
lives with her grandfather, William Griffith of Nesco, N.J.
Psychologist Jan Grossman testified in the nonjury trial
that Mrs. Ransom was driven by a psychotic delusion triggered by her inability
to have children. As a result, she could not tell right from wrong, Dr.
Mrs. Ransom’s common-law husband, John, testified that his
wife told him she bore the child herself and killed Mrs. Sweeney when “she
tried to take my baby.” Ransom, who said his conscience bothered him, went to
police three days later.
Police found the body last Nov. 16 buried behind the Ransom
home [error: it was under kitchen floor].
[“Woman Found Innocent in Bludgeon Death,” Edwardsville
Intelligencer (Il.), Jul. 11, 1975, p. 7]
TEXT (article 3 of 4): Psychiatrists have recommended the release of a woman
who was committed to a mental hospital 17 months ago for killing a pregnant
woman and cutting out her baby.
district attorney’s office says it is powerless to prevent the hospital from
letting the woman go because she was acquitted — on grounds of insanity.
Ransom, 38, who admitted at her trial that she shot and bludgeoned the woman
and removed the baby with a butcher knife, is no longer insane, doctors at
Byberry State Hospital said.
Sweeney, 26, the woman Mrs. Ransom admitted killing, was eight months pregnant
at the time of the incident in November 1974. Her infant, a girl, survived and
is being raised by relatives. Mrs. Sweeney and her husband were estranged.
Ransom was acquitted in July 1975. Psychiatrists testified at her trial that
she was driven by a psychotic delusion caused by her inability to bear
Pleas Court Judge Juanita Kidd Stout committed Mrs. Ransom to Byberry a mental
month, Judge Stout received letters from Dr. Albert Solomon and Dr. Juan
Villazon of Byberry, recommending that Mrs. Ransom be released.
doctors said that Mrs. Ransom remains “schizophrenic” but no longer requires
you discharge her,” Judge Stout wrote in reply, “she is your responsibility and
not mine. I really cannot understand how, in all circumstances of this case,
you can recommend discharging Mrs. Ransom to go out into the community and
resume normal life.”
request for release was the third from the hospital. Five months after Mrs.
Ransom was committed, doctors asked that she be released for the Christmas
holidays in 1975 because her condition had improved considerably, according to
she had not been declared sane and both the judge and the Philadelphia district
attorney denied the request.
months later, Dr. George Buck wrote that the woman was “in good condition” and
should be transferred to an out-patient facility.
The district attorney’s office also denied that request and
wrote that “due to the horrendous nature of the offense... this office
seriously questions the advisability of such a recommendation by hospital
officials at this early date “
Murray, chief of the homicide unit of the district attorney’s office, said
Thursday that although he was personally “outraged” by the present situation,
the district attorney’s office had no power to prevent Mrs. Ransom’s release or
to further prosecute her since she has been acquitted of the murder charge.
involved in the case have not been available for comment.
Dr. Anthony Dunfield, a spokesman for Byberry, said “We’re concerned about
doing what’s ethically and legally proper. There are civil rights involved ...
You can’t lock up a healthy person forever and throw away the key “
[“Doctors ask release of once-insane
killer,” syndicated (AP), Corpus Christi
Times (Tx.), Jan. 7, 1977, p. 7A]
FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 4): Philadelphia – A woman who
performed a caesarean with a butcher knife so that she could have a child of
her own has been released after serving 20 months in a state mental hospital.
A spokesman at Byberry State Hospital said Tuesday [Mar. 8,
1977] that doctors were required by law to release Winifred Ransom, 38, at her
request after they had determined she was no longer, insane.
Mrs. Ransom admitted shooting Margaret Sweeney to death in
November 1974, and using a butcher knife to remove the woman's baby. The baby
girl survived and is being raised by relatives.
Psychiatrists testified at Mrs. Ransom's 1975 trial that she
was psychotic, out of touch with reality and driven by a delusion related to
her inability to bear children.
The doctors said they expected her to be hospitalized for “a
But by last December, Dr. Albert Solomon, who was treating
Mrs. Ransom, the Byberry Superintendent Franklyn R. Clarke, said she had been cured
and could be released.
Since Mrs. Ransom was acquitted because of her mental
condition, she cannot face charges in the killing again.
Judge Juanita Kidd Stout, who presided at the trial in
Common Pleas Court, call the situation “Really a sad state of affairs.”
[“Woman Who Killed Expectant Mother And Delivered Baby Gets
Evening Times (Sayre & Athens, Pa.), Mar. 9, 1977, p.
Jan C. Grossman, the psychologist who came up with the questionable opinion on
Winifred Ransom’s non-culpability in this case in 1974 received his M.A. in
psychology from Temple University in 1970 and his Ph.D. in clinical
psychology from Temple in 1973. He received his Juris Doctorate from
Temple in 1990. He is still in practice (2014).
– Ransom’s home: Frankford, Pa.
– .32 revolver (2 bullets), and hatchet (some
later reports: “butcher knife,” “pocket knife”)
Nov. 13, 1975 – murder and kidnapping.
16, 1975 – body dug up; Ransom arrested.
10, 1975 – found not guilty due to insanity; Sentenced to Byberry State Hospital.
– Dr. Solomon, treating psychiatrist, declares Ransom “cured.”
1977 – Date Ransom’s mandatory release was announced. It is not clear whether
it was this day that she was in fact set free.
PAGE: Ronald and Jacqueline Reichman stood in their large, cheery kitchen. A
fire smoldered in the huge open fireplace and the pleasant scent of burning
wood was spreading.
the wood crackled and fell, the Reichmans began explaining why they wanted to
adopt 18-month-old Tammey [error: "Tammy" is correct] Sweeney, a victim of the kind of urban violence that
rarely touches their 200-acre farm in Phoenixville.
felt sympathy for all concerned, said Reishman, a 42-year pld land developer,
“and we felt sympathy for Tammey, who appears abandoned.”
Tammey was found in a car in North Philadelphia last Thursday. Two days later,
the body of her mother, Mrs. Margaret Sweeney, 26, was found in a shallow grave
beneath a West Philadelphia home.
had been hacked and shot to death. And her alleged killer, Mrs. Winifred
Ransom, apparently had performed a Caesarean section on the dead woman,
delivering a live 5 ½ pound girl.
saw Tammey on television several times,” said Mrs.Reichman, 32, “I saw these
great big eyes looking at the world,” and suddenly I wanted her to see
they talked, 2-year-old Pallas raced through the house. The Reichmans feel
Tammey would be a great sister and playmate for their daughter.
is aware that adoption is not easy.
officials say they first will try to place Tammey and her unnamed sister in the
custody of their natural family. If unsuccessful, an investigation of available
adoption application will be conducted “to find a family that suits the
Sweeney’s husband apparently left her two years ago. A friend said her other
two children, Michele and Kim, are living with their grandparents in Nesco, N.
newborn is in good condition at Philadelphia General Hospital. Tammey is under
medical observation at Hahnemann Hospital.
Blue, “Tammey [sic] Offered A Home,” Philadelphia Daily News (Pa.), Nov. 20, 1974, P.