Brieskow-Finkenheerd, Brandenberg, Germany – On February 6, 2006, Sabine Hilschenz, 40, an unemployed dental assistant from a small Brandenburg town in the former East Germany near the border with Poland, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on for the manslaughter of eight of her children (the earliest baby was not included in the case due to statute of limitations).
The remains of the seven girls and two boys, born between 1988 and 1998, were discovered in the Summer of 2005 after a neighbor uncovered human bones when clearing out Hilschenz parents’ shed last summer. The nine babies had been buried in plant pots, an aquarium and an old bathtub.
Her defense team argued that her alcohol consumption during labor would cause her to pass out. When she awoke, she would find the child dead and buried in soil on her balcony.
“I would sit on the balcony and talk to them in the flowerpots,” she told police before the trial.
Hilschenz already had three children and told investigators her husband did not want any more. The father of all nine children insisted he did not even know his wife had been pregnant, telling police he thought his wife simply had a weight problem. He declined to testify, as did three surviving children.
Judge Matthias Fuchs, explaining the court’s February 5, 2006 verdict in Frankfurt an-der-Oder, said Hilschenz had killed her children fearing “that her husband would abandon her and take the children with him.”
The case has sparked intense media interest in Germany, with politicians arguing over whether it symbolizes the breakdown of family values in depressed areas of the country’s formerly communist east.
The 2006 conviction was appealed, resulting, five years later in a Federal Court of Justice ruling on July 4, 2011 that partially overturned the original decision.
[This post is based on multiple sources: “Killer mom’s prison sentence overturned,” The China, Jan. 4, 2011; “Woman Convicted for Slaying 8 of her Children,” Spiegel Online International, Feb. 2, 2006; “German convicted over baby deaths,” BBC News, Jun. 1, 2006]
For more cases of this type, see Serial Baby-Killer Moms.