There were just two things Marybeth Tinning said she wanted in life: "To be married to someone who cared for me and to have children."
The New York woman found a devoted husband in Joseph Tinning in 1963 and together, they went on to have nine children – Barbara, Joseph Jr, Jennifer, Timothy, Nathan, adopted son Michael, Mary, Jonathan and Tami Lynne.
But not one of the children lived past the age of five. And in 1985, after the death of her youngest daughter Tami Lynne, Tinning – an unsuspecting housewife, one-time waitress and school bus driver – was finally exposed as one of America's worst child killers.
Nine deaths in mysterious circumstances.
Over a 13-year-period from 1972 to 1985, each of Tinning’s children died under mysterious circumstances, some just days after being born. There were seizures, cardiac arrests – Nathan died as an infant while out with his mum in her car.
In the beginning, doctors attributed some of the deaths to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also weighing up the possibility that some of the children could have passed from a rare hereditary disorder. But when Tinning brought her adopted son Michael to the hospital, dead on arrival, in February 1981 – claiming he had fallen down the stairs – the belief that his siblings' deaths had been genetic no longer held up.
Yet, even then, authorities failed to open an investigation into the children's questionable passing.
Dr Robert L. Sullivan, Schenectady County's Chief Medical Examiner, admitted his failings in the case. "There were so many of us in on it, I guess," he said. "If anyone is negligent, I suppose I am. I probably should have said, 'There must be more to it than this.' But we all think, and don't do."