Amelia Dyer was a ‘baby farmer’ by trade, someone who, for a fee, would look after children, usually illegitimate, until a home could be found for them.
Unmarried mothers in Victorian England often struggled to gain an income, since the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act had removed any financial obligation from the fathers of illegitimate children, whilst at the same time trying to bring up their children in a society where single parenthood and illegitimacy were very much stigmatised.
This led to the practice of baby farming in which people acted as adoption or fostering agents, in return for regular payments or a single, up-front fee from the babies’ mothers.
Many businesses were set up to take in these young women and care for them until they gave birth. The mothers subsequently left their unwanted babies to be looked after by these people and often ended up in workhouses themselves. Unscrupulous carers often resorted to starving the farmed-out babies, to save money and even to hasten death.
Emelia Dyer was born in 1837 and raised in Bristol to respectable parents and trained as a nurse before deciding that ‘adopting’ illegitimate infants was a more lucrative career.
In 1879 she was sentenced to six months’ hard labour after being found guilty on a charge of neglect. A doctor had become suspicious of the number of infants who had died while in Mrs Dyer’s care and had reported the matter to the authorities. On her release she spent several periods in mental institutions before resuming her child-care activities.
In 1895 at the age of 58, she moved to Kensington Road, Reading and began advertising for babies to look after. It was not long before small bodies were being fished out of the Thames.
On the 30th of March of 1896, a bargeman recovered the corpse of 15-month old Helena Fry from the river Thames at Reading. Helena’s body was wrapped in a brown paper parcel which had the name of a Mrs. Thomas and her address on it – Piggott’s Road Lower Caversham. Mrs. Thomas was one of Mrs. Dyer’s aliases.
It took the police some time to trace Mrs. Dyer as she had already moved on, changing her address quite frequently and also using various aliases. In the meantime, a Cheltenham barmaid, 23 year old Evelina Marmon, had answered a newspaper advert from a “Mrs Harding” seeking a child for adoption.
Under the premise of adopting them into loving homes, Amelia Dyer murdered over 300 babies.
She met “Mrs Harding” and paid her a £10 fee to take her four month old baby daughter Doris on the 31st of March 1896. She felt comfortable with the arrangement as “Mrs Harding” appeared to be a respectable and motherly person. The following day Mrs. Dyer “adopted” another child, Harry Simmons.
The police finally located Mrs. Dyer, who they kept under surveillance for several days before mounting a “sting” operation using a young woman to pose as a potential customer. She was arrested on April the 4th, 1896 when she opened the door to the person she thought would be this customer only to find two policemen standing there.
The two tiny bodies of Doris and Harry were found in the Thames on April the 10th, 1896, both wrapped in a carpet bag and both white tapes round their necks. In all, the corpses of seven babies, all of whom had been strangled, were recovered from the Thames and each one had the same white tape around their neck. She soon confessed saying, “You’ll know all mine by the tape around their necks.”.
She made two attempts to commit suicide in Reading police station. She came to trial before Mr. Justice Hawkins at the Old Bailey on the 21st and 22nd of May 1896 charged with Doris’ murder in the first instance, so that if she was acquitted, she could be tried for another.
This was standard practice until recently in cases of multiple murder. Miss Marmon identified Mrs Dyer in court as “Mrs Harding”. The defence tried to prove insanity but failed to convince the jury who took just 5 minutes to find her guilty.
Although there was strong evidence of her dubious sanity, her crimes were also appalling and the jury seemed to give far more weight to that aspect. Mr. Justice Hawkins sentenced her to death.
During her three weeks in the condemned cell, she filled five exercise books with her “last true and only confession.” In a compassionate move the authorities removed her from Newgate for a few hours so that she would not have to hear the hanging of Milsom, Fowler and Seaman the day before her own execution.
The chaplain visited her on the evening of the 9th and asked her if she had anything to confess, she offered him her exercise books saying “isn’t this enough?”
She was hanged the following morning on the 10th of June 1896 by James Billington,at precisely 9am, becoming at 59, the oldest woman to be executed since 1843. Asked on the scaffold if she had anything to say, she said “I have nothing to say”.
Her ghost was said to haunt Newgate prison prior to it being demolished in 1902. No one will ever know the exact number of her victims but at the time of her arrest, she had been carrying on her trade for 15 to 20 years. It is believed she may have murdered as many as between 200 and 400 babies in all.
Haunting moment Second World War ventriloquist doll ‘blinks and moves its mouth’
This is the haunting moment a creepy ventriloquist doll dating from the Second World War allegedly blinks and moves its mouth.
The 1940s doll, named Mr Fritz, was given to Michael Diamond, 48, earlier this year by a former prisoner at a Nazi World War Two camp.
Mr Diamond noticed the door to the doll’s glass display cabinet kept opening up at night, so he set up a GoPro camera to film over two evenings on September 19 and 20.
When the father-of-two from Liverpool watched back through the footage, he saw the cabinet door open – and the doll’s mouth and eyes moving.
He believes the doll is haunted and has now locked the cabinet in his home with a chain and covered it with a blanket.
Mr Diamond said: “When I first watched the video back I had a weird feeling in my stomach.
“I wasn’t completely surprised because what has been happening with the door. At least once or twice a week I noticed the door kept coming off its latch.
“I decided to set up the camera for fun just to see if anything would happen. When something actually did I got a weird feeling in my gut, it’s hard to describe.
“I was really taken back by it and I did have a strange feeling. I wouldn’t say I’m scared of Mr Fritz but I am wary of it.”
The creepy doll was made by an American prisoner at Stalag II-B, a German World War II camp, now in the town of Czarne in Poland. Mr Diamond believes the prisoner worked as a ventriloquist before being taken prisoner.
The doll was apparently taken to America after the end of the war and was owned by an antiques shop in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina before it came to the UK.
Mr Fritz was given to Mr Diamond by a local militaria collector in July and it now lives in Mr Diamond’s “freak room”, where all his collector items are kept.
The hobbyist collector is married to Sally, 46, and has two children, Amber, 19, and Caleb, 11.
He said: “The door was being opened once or twice a week and I knew it was strange. You can see on the first night the door swing open.
“On the next night you can see the eyes move before the door opens and again afterwards. The eyes flicker and his mouth moves up and down slightly.
“My wife and daughter both hate it. I get why people don’t like it and think it might be scary but I’m not intimidated by it.
“I want to give it a permanent home. I get emotionally attached to my collections. What’s the explanation is the one million dollar question isn’t it?
“I have no idea myself. I don’t even know where to start. There are no open windows in the room and no airflow. The door is on a latch so shouldn’t just swing open.
“I have told Sally and Amber about it and they don’t like it at all. To stop it from happening I’ve chained the box up and covered it in a blanket.”
Mr Diamond is an entertainer and travels the country performing stunts with his museum full of collectors items like taxidermy animals, spiritual props, skulls and ancient weaponry.
Worlds Biggest Ghost Hunt on A&E Channel
This October you can watch the ‘Worlds Biggest Ghost Hunt: Pennhurst Asylum’ on A&E Channel.
It is the longest continuously filmed paranormal investigation in television history.
In this 2 hour special we see five paranormal investigators lock themselves in the legendary Pennhurst Asylum in Pennsylvania, USA, which once had more than 10,000 residents, mostly children, confined in the the most brutal conditions.
The asylum has had over 100 reports or paranormal activity with full body apparitions, physical attacks, mysterious noises and a lot more.
The investigators are locked in the asylum for two weeks to investigate and document paranormal activity. The owner granted them unprecedented access to the entire 110-acre property including areas which have never been investigated before.
During their two week investigation they record many strange things, from doors banging on their own to apparitions in the bathroom.
One night investigating during a vigil, one of the team, Austin George, claims he feels heavy chills and then complains that he feels like someone is on his back.
Moments later he chokes, convulses and keels over before having to be carried out of the building and attended to by medics. Was it a nervous breakdown or was he being possessed?
They also encounter an apparition moving in a bathroom area and capture a stick figure on the SLS camera in the same area they see the apparition. Is it the same spirit?
All this and along with doors banging on their own, EVP’s, voices on the SB11 spirit box and the teams continuous lack of sleep as the 14 days go by, its worth watching this when it airs on October 30th on A&E 8PM ET/PT.
*I had the opportunity to preview “Worlds Biggest Ghost Hunt: Pennhurst Asylum” for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Worlds Biggest Ghost Hunt: Pennhurst Asylum airs Wednesday 30th October at 8pm ET/PT.
Will you be watching?
Pictures of ghost children captured in an abandoned school in Grimsby UK
Two paranormal investigators ventured into an abandoned schoolhouse and came away with shots they believe show ghost children in action.
The two ‘ghosthunters’, Graham and Tara, ventured inside the rotting Education Offices and Art College, in Grimsby, UK and came away with two ‘supernatural’ shots.
The first, taken by Graham, is said to show “three or four children” hiding behind a wall while another child walks towards them.
“This photo, the photograph of the three or four children, was my first paranormal picture,” Graham said.
“It was only taken on a Samsung tablet on night camera mode. It was taken in the old Art College on Eleanor Street.”
He said “it all started off as a laugh” and he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary until looking back at his photographs the next morning.
He added: “We took pictures with the lights on and lights off. We were just messing around and I was taking a load of pictures. I woke up the next morning and had a look at what I had taken.
“I was really taken back by what I saw. I have been into the paranormal since being a child. I’m no longer scared of it. I thrive on it, to be honest.
“When zoomed in, you can see facial features of the first boy. He’s sitting down, besides three or four others, crossed legged and with his right arm to his right knee.
“You can see more on the boy standing up. His facial features are much clearer. These were taken somewhere near the old swimming pool.”
The second photograph, taken by Tara, is said to show a “figure” in “full spectrum” again near the swimming pool area.
Graham said: “My partner took this image, which is in full spectrum, in the same location. It was taken further away and is harder to make out.”
Can you see the children?
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