Monday, October 14, 2019

Diane Spencer, Serial Baby-Killing Mom – Michigan, 1991

Oct. 23, 1967 – Diane Spencer born.
Aug. 6, 1983 – Joyce A. Donochicke (6 weeks), Pennsylvania.
1984 – newborn given up for adoption.
Sep. 21, 1987 – Autumn Dawn Spencer (15 days old), Philipsburg, Pa
Sep. 25, 1990 – Aaron Avery Spencer (6 months old), Michigan.
Dec. 1990 – Arrested; Michigan.
Dec. 11, 1990 – arraigned; held without bond, Allegan County Jail.
Feb. 19, 1991 – Police Chief Dan Miller announces 2 additional murder charges may be brought against Spencer.
Jul. 18, 1991 – judge rules Spencer competent to stand trial.
Mar. 13, 1992 — sentenced to life in prison for one murder, that of Aaron.
Jun. 30, 1993 – 2 murder charges dropped based on improperly collected evidence.


FULL TEXT: Grand Rapids – Police investigating the death of a 5-month-old baby discovered more than they expected after the boy's mother confessed to suffocating him and two other children.

Diane Spencer, 23, of Grand Rapids was arraigned Tuesday in Allegan District Court on one count of first-degree murder in the Sept. 25 death of her son, Aaron.

She was held without bond in the Allegan County Jail, pending a Dec. 18 preliminary hearing.
Spencer fell to the floor, saying, "Send me to jail, send me to jail," after her court appearance, Way-land Police Chief Dan Miller said.

In an interview Monday with police, Spencer confessed to killing her son and two infant daughters in Pennsylvania in 1983 and 1987, said state police Detective Sgt. Ron Neil of the Wayland post.

Pennsylvania State Police confirmed that 15-day-old Autumn Dawn Spencer was pronounced dead on Sept. 21, 1987, at a hospital in Philipsburg, Pa., and that 6-week-old Joyce A. Denochick was pronounced dead on Aug. 6, 1983, at a hospital in Philipsburg, Pa., and that 6-week-old Joyce A. Denochick was pronounced dead on Aug. 6, 1983, at a hospital in Du Bois, Pa.

Both deaths were attributed to sudden infant death syndrome.

The Grand Rapids Press today quoted unidentified conspiracy investigators as saying all three children were suffocated with pillows.

[“Mom confesses to killing three infants’ deaths,” Battle Creek Enquirer (Mi.), Dec. 12, 1990, P. 9A]


FULL TEXT: A judge has ruled that a woman who admitted suffocating a son and two infant daughters is competent to stand trial in her son’s death.

A psychiatric report accepted Wednesday by Allegan District Judge Stephen E. Sheridan paves the way for a preliminary hearing for Diane Louise Spencer, 23, charged with one count of first-degree murder.

The Wayland woman was charged with suffocating her son, Aaron, last September, and has jailed here without bond since December.

The examiner from the state’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti found Spencer “was in good contact with reality and free from symptoms of psychosis and was aware of the “charges,” according to the report.

The report, however, did not address Spencer’s criminal responsibility at the time of the alleged crime. That portion of the report is expected in about two weeks.

Initially, local authorities thought Spencers’ son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. But investigators became suspicious after an autopsy and upon learning of the earlier deaths of her two daughters in Pennsylvania.

Authorities have Spencer may suffer from an unusual disorder called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, which causes parents to simulate or cause injury or illness to their children in order to get medical attention for the children.

[“Mother will stand trial for infants’ deaths (Battle Creek Enquirer (Mi.), Jul. 18, 1991, p. 8A]


FULL TEXT: Wayland – Pennsylvania prosecutors who accused a woman of killing her two infant daughters dropped the charges Tuesday, saying their case was blown by a Michigan state trooper who obtained confessions illegally.

Diane Spencer, 25, of Wayland, still faces a life sentence in Michigan after being convicted of killing her infant son in 1990. She will be returned to Michigan next week.

In 1990, when Trooper John Palmatier told Spencer he wanted to talk to her about the Wayland case, he didn’t tell her about the Wayland case, he didn’t tell her he would also question her about the two Pennsylvania deaths.

[“Counts dropped against mom,” Detroit Free Press (Mi.), Jun. 30, 1993, p. 6B]






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

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