|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2011)|
September 11, 1942 |
Duanesburg, New York
|20 years to life|
|Conviction(s)||July 17, 1987|
Span of killings
|February 4, 1987|
Marybeth Tinning (née Roe, born September 11, 1942) is an American prisoner currently serving a sentence of 20 years to life after being convicted of the murder of one of her children, while her other eight died under suspicious circumstances.
Marybeth Roe was born in Duanesburg, a small town in Schenectady County, New York. Her father, Alton Roe, worked as a press operator for General Electric. She and her younger brother attended Duanesburg High School, where she was a typical student.
Over the next few years, she worked in a series of low wage jobs. Eventually, she became a nurse's aide at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady. In 1963, she met Joe Tinning on a blind date. The couple married in spring 1965.
In the first five years of their marriage, Joe and Marybeth Tinning had two children, Barbara and Joseph, Jr. In October 1971, Tinning's father died of a sudden heart attack. In December that same year, she gave birth to a third child, Jennifer. On January 3, 1972, Jennifer died in a Schenectady hospital of severe infection, which was diagnosed as meningitis. At that time, most investigators did not believe that this death was suspicious because Jennifer was sick at birth and never brought home. The successive deaths of her father and her baby may have affected Tinning's fragile mental condition. Never a happy, well-adjusted adult and frequently described as "strange" by many of her friends and family members, Tinning seemed to become even more distant after Jennifer's death.
Seventeen days after Jennifer's death, on January 20, 1972, Tinning took her two-year old son, Joseph Jr., to the Ellis Hospital emergency room in Schenectady. She reported that he had some type of seizure. The child was kept under observation for a time. When doctors could not find anything wrong with him, Joseph Jr. was sent home. Several hours later, Tinning returned to the ER with Joseph, Jr. This time, he was dead. She told doctors that she had placed him in bed and returned later to find him tangled in the sheets and his body was blue. 
Nearly six weeks after Joseph, Jr.'s death, Tinning was back at the same emergency room with her four-year old daughter, Barbara. Tinning told the staff that Barbara had gone into convulsions. Though the doctors wanted the child to remain overnight, Tinning insisted on taking her home. Several hours later, like the incident with Joseph Jr., she returned with Barbara who was unconscious. The child later died in a hospital bed from unknown causes. When police asked Tinning about this incident years later, she barely remembered it. "Had a daughter," she told investigators, "while we were sleeping, she called out to me and I went in and she was having a convulsion. I guess I don't even remember whether ... I think maybe we just ... I don't remember whether we took her by ambulance or whether we took her, but anyway we got there and they did whatever they did." A rare, little understood condition, known as Reye's Syndrome, was suspected in Barbara's death, but never proven.
On Thanksgiving Day 1973, Tinning gave birth to a son, Timothy. On December 10, three weeks after his birth, Timothy was brought back to the same hospital. He was dead. Tinning told doctors she found him lifeless in his crib. Doctors found nothing medically wrong. His death was officially attributed to SIDS.
Two years later, on March 30, 1975 (Easter Sunday), Tinning gave birth to her fifth child, Nathan. On September 2, she showed up at St. Clare's Hospital with the baby dead in her arms. She said she was driving in her car with the baby in the front seat when she noticed that he had stopped breathing. Again, there seemed to be no explanation for his death. His death was also attributed to SIDS.
In 1978, the Tinnings made arrangements to adopt a child. The same year, Tinning became pregnant again. The Tinnings did not cancel the adoption and chose to keep both children. In August 1978, they received a baby boy, Michael, from the adoption agency. Two months later, on October 29, she gave birth to her sixth child, Mary Frances. In January 1979, Tinning rushed Mary Frances to the emergency room, directly across the street from her apartment, saying the baby had had a seizure. The staff was able to revive her. However, on February 20, Tinning came running into the same hospital with Mary Frances, who was brain dead. Once again, Tinning said she found the baby unconscious and did not know what had happened to her. Her death was also attributed to SIDS.
Once Mary Frances was buried, Tinning once again became pregnant. On November 19, she gave birth to her seventh child, Jonathan. In March 1980, she showed up at St. Clare's hospital with Jonathan unconscious. Like Mary Frances, he was successfully revived. Due to the family's history, Jonathan was sent to Boston Hospital where he was thoroughly examined. The doctors could find no valid medical reason why the baby simply stopped breathing. Jonathan was sent home. A few days later, Tinning returned to the hospital with Jonathan, and he was brain dead. Jonathan died on March 24, 1980.
Less than one year later, on the morning of March 2, 1981, Tinning showed up at her pediatrician's office with Michael, her adopted child, then two and a half years old. He was wrapped in a blanket and unconscious. She told the doctor that she could not wake Michael and had no idea what was wrong. When the doctor examined Michael, he was already dead. Since Michael was adopted, the long-suspected theory that the deaths in the Tinning family had a genetic origin was discarded.
On August 22, 1985, Tinning gave birth to her eighth biological child, Tami Lynne. On December 19, next-door neighbor Cynthia Walter, who was also a practical nurse, went shopping with Tinning and later visited her home. Later that night, Walter received a frantic telephone call from Tinning. When Walter arrived, she found Tami Lynne lying on a changing table. Walter testified that the child was not moving and she could not feel any pulse or breathing. At the emergency room, the baby was pronounced dead.
Confession and conviction
Suspicion mounted against Tinning, who was always alone when the children died, but there wasn't any evidence of wrongdoing. However, after a police interrogation, Tinning confessed to smothering Tami Lynne, Nathan, and Timothy (which she later retracted). She denied having harmed the other children. She was convicted in Tami Lynne's case and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Her first attempt for parole was in March 2007. At the parole board meeting Tinning said, "I have to be honest, and the only thing that I can tell you is that I know that my daughter is dead. I live with it every day," she continued, "I have no recollection and I can't believe that I harmed her. I can't say any more than that." Her parole was denied.
In late January 2009, Tinning went before the parole board for the second time. Tinning stated "I was going through bad times," when she killed her daughter. The parole board again denied her parole, stating that her remorse was "superficial at best." Tinning was eligible for parole again in January 2011. In 2011 and 2013 Tinning was again denied parole. At the 2011 appearance, Tinning said that she killed Tami Lynne because she thought the child would die like her other children anyway. When questioned about the murder during her 2013 appearance, she said, "It’s just — I can’t remember. I mean, I know I did it, but I can’t tell you why. There is no reason." Her next opportunity for parole will be in January 2015.
- Leggett, James H. (1987-10-02). "Tinning Sentence Is 20 Years to Life for Killing Baby". Schenectady Gazette. p. B1.
- Mahoney, Joe (1987-07-18). "Conviction in Infant Death; N.Y. Woman Who Smothered Baby Faces More Charges". The Washington Post. p. A2.
- Gado, Mark. "Baby Killer". truTV. crimelibrary.com. p. 16. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
- Leggett, James H. (1987-06-30). "Tinning Confession Key To Arrest for Murder, Investigators Testify". Schenectady Gazette. p. C1.
- Buell, Bill and Steven Cook (2007-03-30). "Tinning parole denied". The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY). p. A1.
- Cook, Steven (2009-03-05). "No parole for Tinning, jailed for killing baby". The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY). p. B1.
- Gavin, Robert (2011-02-11). "Notorious child killer Marybeth Tinning tells parole board she ‘just lost it,’ feared daughter would die". Albany Times Union. Albany, NY.
- Cook, Steven (2011-02-08). "Marybeth Tinning again denied parole: Now 68, child killer next eligible in January 2013". The Daily Gazette. Schenectady, NY.
- Cook, Steven (2013-01-10). "Child killer Marybeth Tinning again denied parole". The Daily Gazette. Schenectady, NY. Retrieved 2013-02-24.
- Egginton, Joyce (February 1989). From Cradle to Grave: The Short Lives and Strange Deaths of Marybeth Tinning's Nine Children. New York: Morrow. ISBN 0-688-07566-5.
- Unnatural Death, Confessions of a Forensic Pathologist, Michael Baden MD with Judith Adler Hennessee, 1989. ISBN 0-7515-0960-4