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The_Ink_Goddess
04-18-2014, 01:07 AM
Sorry about the title...

I want to deal with this as simply as possible. I think I have a handle on it but I just want to make doubly sure, if this is okay with everybody. Apologies about two threads in one day, it's for a good cause. :)

Modern-day rural England. A mother has Munchausen's by Proxy but it's all very hush-hush and not spoken of. To all appearances, she's a wonderful mother who dotes on her perpetually sickly daughter. When the daughter hits late teens, she starts to pull away from the principle and become more of her own person. Monster mummy obviously hates this so gets pregnant.

However, for reasons that become obvious later on, she then murders her baby after the christening and disappears. How would this work from a logical police-investigation standpoint? I don't want her to come under any serious suspicion.

Is there any way that she could kill the child and make the police think it was an accident? Not to be rude to teenagers (my people!), but it's YA, so it doesn't need to be very medically detailed - just plausible enough that it makes sense (Suffocation? Shaken baby syndrome to look like SIDS?). Helped by the fact that her daughter panics and lies for her, claiming they were elsewhere, and she's also one hell of an actress.

I assume she would automatically come under more suspicion if she was the mother. I considered it making the MC's niece, rather than her younger sister, so that it was implied that the mother acted in a fit of rage/revenge towards her own sister. I don't want the story to be bogged down very long in police custody or investigations, more than it needs to be. (Although obviously I can imply it's all happening and just skim over it.)

I'm sorry, this makes no sense. Just comment below if I need to clarify anything.

Mr Flibble
04-18-2014, 01:28 AM
Ok I don't know lots but two things leap out

1)
A mother has Munchausen's by Proxy but it's all very hush-hush and not spoken of. Do you mean she has been diagnosed? If so, people will keep a close eye on her. It would certainly come up in a later investigation of her child's death. If you mean she has symptoms but people just think she's a bit odd...well it'll still come up, but maybe not as devastatingly for your needs

2)
Is there any way that she could kill the child and make the police think it was an accident?

I'm sure it's possible, but it would be looked into very thoroughly. Doctors can tell shaken baby syndrome from SIDS (SIDS doesn't leave injuries...) etc. And the daughter can claim they were elsewhere, but then who was looking after the baby? She's going to have to implicate someone (who may well have an alibi for the time). Your best bet might be to imply some sort of accident -- depending on the age of the baby, it's not unheard of for a baby to roll while getting its nappy changed, for example, and perhaps it rolled of a bed/sofa /whatever? Got into the bleach under the sink? For younger babies sleeping with their Mum there is a chance of suffocation which would be accidental (though may present differently to non accidental? You'd need a doctor for that answer) but any hint that Mum has issues would make her a suspect

The baby's age may play a part here - an older baby might sustain injuries accidentally more easily if it gets into something it shouldn't, but a new born sustaining injuries...automatically suspicious.

PS Thanks. Alice Cooper earworm! I used to love that song, back when I was too young to realise the implications....

shaldna
04-18-2014, 01:47 AM
Sorry about the title...

I want to deal with this as simply as possible. I think I have a handle on it but I just want to make doubly sure, if this is okay with everybody. Apologies about two threads in one day, it's for a good cause. :)

Modern-day rural England. A mother has Munchausen's by Proxy but it's all very hush-hush and not spoken of. To all appearances, she's a wonderful mother who dotes on her perpetually sickly daughter. When the daughter hits late teens, she starts to pull away from the principle and become more of her own person. Monster mummy obviously hates this so gets pregnant.

However, for reasons that become obvious later on, she then murders her baby after the christening and disappears. How would this work from a logical police-investigation standpoint? I don't want her to come under any serious suspicion.

Is there any way that she could kill the child and make the police think it was an accident? Not to be rude to teenagers (my people!), but it's YA, so it doesn't need to be very medically detailed - just plausible enough that it makes sense (Suffocation? Shaken baby syndrome to look like SIDS?). Helped by the fact that her daughter panics and lies for her, claiming they were elsewhere, and she's also one hell of an actress.

I assume she would automatically come under more suspicion if she was the mother. I considered it making the MC's niece, rather than her younger sister, so that it was implied that the mother acted in a fit of rage/revenge towards her own sister. I don't want the story to be bogged down very long in police custody or investigations, more than it needs to be. (Although obviously I can imply it's all happening and just skim over it.)

I'm sorry, this makes no sense. Just comment below if I need to clarify anything.

I guess it all hinges on the circumstances. If there is no reason to suspect the mother, or foul play, then it would be easier for her to get away with it.

However, forensics being what they are these days, and a greater knowledge of what can cause harm or death to a small child, it's almost impossible to get away with things like shaking a baby to death - which would be highly unlikely to be confused with SIDS where often there seems to be no cause of death.

You could look at allergies - does the baby have an allergy? Such as nuts or something that could cause shock and then death? A crawling child can easily come into contact with a lot things that aren't good for them - I once took my eyes of my 6 month old and then found her, literally about 40 seconds later, trying to eat food from the dogs dish outside the room.

melindamusil
04-18-2014, 01:49 AM
As far as "making it look like an accident" - definitely. Have you heard of Mary Beth Tinning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marybeth_Tinning)? She's in the US but could give you some ideas.

There's also Susan Smith (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Smith), who drove her car into a body of water and claimed that a big scary bad guy had stolen her car.

There was another mother in the pacific NW, I think, who suffocated her babies and the police assumed it was SIDS... well, for twenty-some years anyway. Eventually they caught her. I will update when I find her name...

shaldna
04-18-2014, 01:54 AM
The baby's age may play a part here - an older baby might sustain injuries accidentally more easily if it gets into something it shouldn't, but a new born sustaining injuries...automatically suspicious.

....

Sometimes a lot depends on someone noticing. When I was a kid I was seriously the most accident prone child and after my third set of stiches to my head social services landed at my parents door. There was nothing in it, but it was obviously upsetting. As an adult with the most clumsy daughter in the world I can fully appreciate that. My dauther, now 7, doesn't pay attention to anything, she can best be described as being very 'hello flowers, hello trees'. She also has very severe breathing difficulties and the two things combined means that we have spent a rather obscene amount of time in casualty and in hospital stays. To date we've not been targets by social services, thankfuly. Although the look on the nurses face when I had explain that my daughter had tripped over a rooster was priceless.

But then you look at all the highly publicised cases where no one, despite social workers etc being involved, where no one seems to notice what's going on - Baby P etc.

Both my ex brother and sister in law are social workers - he works with children - so I've heard just how hard it can be to spot something and then prove it. Parent's can get away with the most horrific things for many years before it all comes to light.

Mr Flibble
04-18-2014, 02:07 AM
With slightly older children, I think that's definitely the case -- children do hurt themselves for whatever reason, and doctors/social workers know that (though the still have to check it out if it happens a lot).

But a child under say three or four month isn't clumsy -- it can't really move by itself (this changes once they start rolling). So a two month old with a fracture or worse is going to be looked at. Especially these days. And if the baby dies, they will surely do a post mortem and discover any injuries (whereas if they survive, yeah, it'll depend on people noticing and they may not)


As far as "making it look like an accident" - definitely. Have you heard of Mary Beth Tinning? She's in the US but could give you some ideas.

To be fair, medicine/forensics has moved on quite a bit from the seventies, and there would be suspicions raised much earlier nowadays I'm sure. It could happen for one baby though, without too much suspicion (again, if the Munchausen's isn't diagnosed, cos if it is, they will look at that until they go blue)

There was a case in the paper a few days ago about a baby who had managed to grab a plastic bag (from the changing table - they aren't sure how because nominally it wasn't within her reach IIRC) and had swallowed it, suffocating herself. Presenting it as a tragic but believable accident might be the way to go.

The_Ink_Goddess
04-18-2014, 02:13 AM
Ok I don't know lots but two things leap out

1) Do you mean she has been diagnosed? If so, people will keep a close eye on her. It would certainly come up in a later investigation of her child's death. If you mean she has symptoms but people just think she's a bit odd...well it'll still come up, but maybe not as devastatingly for your needs

No, she's not been diagnosed. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Everyone thinks she's this angelic super-mother who takes care of her troubled and generally ill daughter. It's a total family secret, with only the MC and her aunt being properly aware of the situation. I just used the terminology for a convenient way of getting straight to the point, psychology-wise. That's basically what's wrong with her but nobody knows it.


2)

I'm sure it's possible, but it would be looked into very thoroughly. Doctors can tell shaken baby syndrome from SIDS (SIDS doesn't leave injuries...) etc. And the daughter can claim they were elsewhere, but then who was looking after the baby? She's going to have to implicate someone (who may well have an alibi for the time). Your best bet might be to imply some sort of accident -- depending on the age of the baby, it's not unheard of for a baby to roll while getting its nappy changed, for example, and perhaps it rolled of a bed/sofa /whatever? Got into the bleach under the sink? For younger babies sleeping with their Mum there is a chance of suffocation which would be accidental (though may present differently to non accidental? You'd need a doctor for that answer) but any hint that Mum has issues would make her a suspect

The baby's age may play a part here - an older baby might sustain injuries accidentally more easily if it gets into something it shouldn't, but a new born sustaining injuries...automatically suspicious.

PS Thanks. Alice Cooper earworm! I used to love that song, back when I was too young to realise the implications....

He is supposed to be a young baby - I was thinking about something like "accidental suffocation" or just a put-up hidden job like suffocating on the nappy tray would work well. They're also an upper-class family and British Social Services is well, not the best. She's not in the system as an abuser. Anybody got any further thoughts on how something like this could occur?

(Sorry, I know I'm being zero assistance. Thanks for the help :) )

shaldna
04-18-2014, 02:16 AM
With slightly older children, I think that's definitely the case -- children do hurt themselves for whatever reason, and doctors/social workers know that (though the still have to check it out if it happens a lot).

Age definitely has a lot to do with it. Once a baby is mobile you can see all sorts of self inflicted and accidental injuries. But a very young child you might have more trouble explaining things.

Something that's been pretty high profile here has been accidental hangings on blind chords. Horrific. Its why we have pole twists now instead of chords. So easy to do, and a child doesn't have the capacity to free themselves.

Also, animal attacks. I hate to say it, but there's barely a week goes past without some poor child being mauled by the family pet.





There was a case in the paper a few days ago about a baby who had managed to grab a plastic bag (from the changing table - they aren't sure how because nominally it wasn't within her reach IIRC) and had swallowed it, suffocating herself. Presenting it as a tragic but believable accident might be the way to go.

It can happen so easily too. I once found a button in my daughters dirty nappy. It was obviously something she'd managed to eat at some stage, but it wasn't a button off anything we owned, so she'd clearly picked it up somewhere. Scared the crap out of me though - all those thoughts that she could have choked etc.

Mr Flibble
04-18-2014, 02:19 AM
It's not just social services though -- it's doctors you'd have to fool as well. Some scenario as I described above (baby grabs something that suffocates them) could work. Accidents do happen after all.


So, er, if the aunt has her suspicions, would she not say anything?


Something that's been pretty high profile here has been accidental hangings on blind chords. Horrific. There's been a few over the past couple of years. Makes me shudder....

The_Ink_Goddess
04-18-2014, 02:21 AM
It's not just social services though -- it's doctors you'd have to fool as well. Some scenario as I described above (baby grabs something that suffocates them) could work. Accidents do happen after all.


So, er, if the aunt has her suspicions, would she not say anything?

She's pretty unstable, too. :tongue Basically they're a family of crazy ladies, she's had drug problems (I was thinking they maybe even treat her like a scapegoat?) she goes into serious shock and takes it very badly. The mother is a controlling amazing-actor piece of work.

Mr Flibble
04-18-2014, 02:24 AM
Fair enough -- just asking because sometimes it's people asking those sorts of questions that make me think "Oh crap, I never thought of that" :D

Also, family of crazy ladies I know well!

shaldna
04-18-2014, 02:32 AM
It's amazing how someone really determined can keep both doctors and social services at bay.......

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_P

Mr Flibble
04-18-2014, 02:53 AM
Yes but note that doctors noted symptoms consistent with abuse fairly early on (it was how that was followed up was the problem)

In this scenario, it's doctors knowing the diff between accidents and abuse that is crucial. And they tend to have an idea. Times that by five or so if doing a PM and can thoroughly examine everything

frimble3
04-18-2014, 06:52 AM
If the first child was 'sickly', but survived, it might be more plausible that a second child, with similar problems, would be overlooked, because people are used to her going on about her sickly kids, and, well, the first one 'grew out of it'.

It would make it more likely that people would accept that this time, oops, it was a little worse, or that the mother didn't realise how much worse it was.

Let the second child die of what looks like a more extreme form of what the first child had, even if it's 'failure to thrive'.

The mother might even get more sympathy, "Oh, the poor woman, it must run in the family. And, she was older with this one, of course. Bad luck."

wendymarlowe
04-18-2014, 07:03 AM
Put the very young baby down, face-down, on a soft surface like a pillow - she can throw out the pillow / burn it / whatever and claim that the baby died while sleeping, and nobody would be able to check. This would be most plausible at the age where the baby is just starting to roll over (and presumably might not be able to roll back), but it could happen anytime in the first year.

Check out other common accidental causes of death - drowning in the bathtub is frighteningly common, although she'd then have to admit to "only leaving the bathroom for a minute, just to get the phone!" and would still come under scrutiny, even if they assume the death is accidental. Drowning in a home pool is also common, and would also be easy to fake. Choking on a deflated balloon or other object is plausible, but harder to control.