A word of advice to parents: conduct a background check before you let someone look after your child, and don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have the emotional maturity to care for your child. Although few babysitters are likely to hurt your children, babysitters are responsible for about 4.2 percent of all offenses against children under the age of six. This is according to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
A simple background check could stand between your child and tragedy, such as it did for Charlotte Foster. She’d hired Stephen Glenn Davis, a nanny recommended by an agency, to look after her boys part-time. Although Davis seemed like a nice enough man, Foster smartly insisted that the agency conduct a background check. The results showed Davis was a convicted murderer who’d escaped the custody of Swiss police. The background check quite possibly saved her sons’ lives. As far as teenagers are concerned, it helps if they’ve had some training and experience. Only hire those students who’ve had babysitting experience and/or child care safety training as they’ll be better prepared for the challenges of childcare.
Unfortunately for the following 15 parents, they were not so lucky and their kids’ fates were left in the hands of true psychopaths who ended their lives. It’s no one’s fault but the perpetrator’s, what happened, but these stories are likely to convince you to invest in nanny cams for every room in your house.
15. Christine Falling
17-year-old Christine Falling had a rough upbringing. Her mother was only 16 years old when she had her, and her father was a 65-year-old man. This was in 1963, but even that decade frowned on such a glaring age difference. When Christine was three, her mother and father abandoned her and her five-year-old sister at an orphanage. At nine-years-old, Christine terrified her adoptive family when she was caught torturing cats, so she and her sister were returned to the orphanage. She grew up poor and mentally challenged, but locals gave her babysitting work because they felt sympathy for her. She was charged with caring for 10-week-old Travis Coleman, but the parents came home to find their son dead. “He just stopped breathing!” Christine lied. It was determined that baby Travis had been deliberately suffocated, and a disturbing trend was also discovered. This wasn’t the first baby to die in Christine’s care. She’d been hearing voices, and they told her, “Kill the baby!” The voices told her to put blankets over the faces of her victims. She was found guilty of three murders, but it’s suspected she killed as many as five kids and a single elderly adult. While a family attended the funeral of one victim, she was charged with watching his young cousin and murdered him, too. Authorities earlier assumed a virus had killed both boys.
14. Marquita Burch
26-year-old Marquita Burch was asked to look after a friend’s child for a few days. On Friday, May 25th, police received a phone call from Burch. She claimed the child had disappeared while they were playing at the park. Emergency responders, including firefighters and police officers, and some neighborhood locals searched for the child for five hours before Burch started to cave. Police pressed her for more information, and she eventually admitted that there was more to the story. She claimed that she had given the 13-month-old toddler some ibuprofen before bed on May 22nd, but that he must have woken up and fallen down the stairs. Who knows what really happened that night? Police couldn’t say for sure because Burch mutilated the child’s corpse. She put his dead body into a garbage bag and then transported him to her cousin’s house where she hid the body. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, endangering a child, and abusing a corpse. Burch was given a sentence of 19 ½ years in prison.
13. Lori Conley
43-year-old Lori Conley didn’t mean to kill the 8-month-old she was babysitting. She was just stupid, overwhelmed, and lazy. She’d attempted to make her job easier by dosing the 8-month-old with Benadryl. At the time, she was looking after eight children in her home and wanted the youngest of her charges to go to sleep. Medics were called to her home when the infant was unresponsive, so he was taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, and the reason for death was listed as a “lethal dose” of Benadryl. This is very disturbing for parents who rely on daycares to look after their children while they work. It’s important that parents carefully consider if home-business daycares are right for their child. Make sure to ask how they’d handle a medical emergency, and ensure that at least one other person is on hand to care for large groups of children. As for the child’s mother, Katie Mulkey, the death of her infant son devastated her. “I want justice for my baby because this was something that was robbed from me,” she told the media. “I’ll have to see my baby in a cemetery, not in my arms. He is not down the street, but in a cemetery, and going through this is not something any mother should go through.” Conley was charged with murder and child endangering.
12. Kryzie King
Four-year-old Myls Dobson was born into an unstable situation. Custody was taken from his mother when she was found guilty of child abuse, and the boy was placed with his father Okee Wade. Wade was in a relationship with the child’s babysitter, transgender (male to female) beautician Kryzie King. King was asked to care for Dobson while his father served jail time in a New Jersey prison. The New York Post reports that the 29-year-old King admitted that she beat Dobson “with belts and cords, burned him with an oven rack, and locked him on a balcony in freezing temperatures wearing nothing but a T-shirt and shorts.” To make matters worse, it’s possible that King may have saved Dobson’s life had she notified authorities that the child had stopped breathing. She didn’t. It took at least 24 hours for King to reach out to authorities, and during that time, the child died. It’s highly unlikely King will ever babysit again as the court sentenced her to 22 years to life behind bars (which is exactly where she belongs).
11. Elzbieta Plackowska
Imagine entrusting your best friend to care for your little girl. Your BFF would never harm your child, right? Especially if said friend was a mother herself. However, Elzbieta Plackowska had a score to settle with her absent long-haul truck-driving husband, and her own son and her friend’s daughter would pay the ultimate price for her insanity. Plackowska was watching the five-year-old girl of a close friend when she attacked the girl, named Olivia, and her own son, Justin, who was seven. She stabbed her friend’s daughter 50 times and stabbed her own son 100 times. She also slit both their throats. Sadly, both children perished as a result of injuries. Initially, Plackowska claimed she was innocent, but she eventually confessed that she had murdered the children to exact revenge on her husband. Because Olivia had witnessed her stabbing her son, she killed the little girl. “She was unhappy in her marriage,” said Sgt. Louis Cammiso of the Naperville police department, “and didn’t feel she was being treated right… and felt that this would be a way to get back at her husband.”
10. David McGreavy
Known as the “Monster of Worcester,” David McGreavy murdered the three siblings he was asked to babysit on April 13, 1973. He was 21 years old at the time and a friend of the family. When McGreavy had nowhere to go, Clive and Elsie Ralph opened their doors to him. The poor parents thought they could trust their young lodger, but they paid the ultimate price putting their trust in the Monster of Worcester. When their youngest child, nine-month-old Samantha, began to cry, McGreavy lost it and began to beat her. The eldest, four-year-old Paul, was strangled to death, and two-year-old Dawn had her throat cut. Not satisfied with having murdered all the Ralph children, McGreavy carried their bodies to the neighbor’s home where he impaled them on a neighbor’s spiked garden railings. He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 20 years, but the now 65-year-old child killer is being prepared for release from prison.
9. Karl McCluney
Although Karl McCluney had some anger issues, no one expected the 15-year-old to take them out on two-year-old Demi Leigh Mahon. Mahon’s mother asked McCluney to look after the little girl while she ran some errands. It was McCluney’s birthday, and she got the boy a birthday card while she was out. She was gone less than two hours but came home to find her daughter severely beaten and unresponsive. McCluney had viciously beaten her, bitten her multiple times, and shaved the little girl’s head. Despite having inflicted more than 65 injuries, McCluney didn’t alert authorities; instead, he sat down and watched children’s cartoons. McCluney has never copped to a motive, except that he found the child annoying. He was tried as a minor and sentenced to 15 years. During the trial, a disturbing portrait was painted of McCluney who had once injured animals during a visit to an animal sanctuary and had another time switched on the gas taps in his school’s physics labs, which endangered the lives of everyone in the classroom. Had Mahon’s mother known about McCluney’s disturbing behavior, she may have thought twice about leaving her little girl in his care.
8. Amy Lynn Scott
Amy Lynn Scott is a serial killer but somehow escaped justice for 15 years. She’d meet the parents of her victims at church, and offer her services as a babysitter. She was hunting infants, but the poor parents had no idea. Jill Shumway was Scott’s childhood friend, so Shumway assumed she could trust the girl. After all, they were the same age, had known each other since childhood, and attended the same church. Unfortunately, she left her nine-month baby with Scott and came home to find him unresponsive. During a nine-month span in 1989, Scott is alleged to have murdered three babies, all of whom were the children of members of the church’s congregation. Although police immediately suspected her (it was all too coincidental to not be connected), they had little to go on, and no arrest was made until 2004. A Tempe police detective resurrected the case and was able to show evidence that proved the children didn’t die of natural or unexplained causes but rather were suffocated. Among the scariest details of this case was that, when arrested, Scott was operating a daycare out of her home in Columbus, GA.
7. Sandra K. Pankow
A jury convicted Sandra K. Pankow on two counts of second-degree murder on June 26th, 1985. Between 1980 and 1985, three infants died suddenly while Pankow was babysitting them. She was found not guilty in the case of Shawn Bloomer, a 9-month-old who had supposedly died of SIDS in her home in 1982. She was, however, convicted of killing 14-month-old Kristin Hamilton in 1980 and killing 6-month-old Tyler Kloes five years later. Pankow actually got off relatively easy: she was sentenced to a minimum of ten years in prison before she’d be eligible for parole. During the trial, Pankow maintained her innocence. In tears, she’s said to have whispered, “It’s not fair… I’m not guilty. I loved those babies. I never did anything to those babies.” Yet a nine-year-old she babysat testified that he had witnessed Pankow wrapping one of the babies’ heads in a towel. Besides, three separate instances of SIDs is too coincidental to not raise suspicion.
6. Gertrude Baniszewski
The case of Gertrude Baniszewski proves that you really can’t trust anyone, including your next door neighbor. Novelist Jack Ketchum published a fictional account loosely based on the shocking true story of Sylvia Likens. It’s called The Girl Next Door, and has spurred two films based on its contents. For months, Baniszewski, her daughter Paula, her son John, and two neighborhood kids, Coy Hubbard and Richard Hobbs, tortured 16-year-old Sylvia Likens. The sadistic abuse went on for months, and no one reported that poor Sylvia was slowly dying. She was mutilated, starved, and repeatedly beaten with weapons, such as paddles. Baniszewski frequently accused the girl of being “filthy,” and she encouraged her children and neighborhood bullies to do horrible things to Sylvia. They frequently assaulted her, pushed her down the stairs, and chained her in the basement. She was forbidden from attending school and was stripped down naked and chained in the basement. According to police reports, the words “I’m a prostitute and proud of it” had been carved into her abdomen by teenaged Richard Hobbs just days before she died.
5. Bessie Reese
In a complete miscarriage of justice, the father of seven murdered children spent 21 years in prison for the crime. James Joseph Richardson did not lace his children’s food with parathion, a deadly pesticide. The perpetrator of that crime was the children’s babysitter, Bessie Reese, but she escaped justice for more than 20 years. The shocking crime took place in October 1967. Bessie “Big Mama” Reese was babysitting the seven children, aged 2 to 8 years old. She poisoned their lunch, and the children all died that day. Reese should have been the obvious suspect because she was on parole for murdering her second husband. She also had been suspected of poisoning and murdering her first husband, but there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest her. Despite her history of violence, it was the children’s father who was sentenced to life in prison. He was finally released when Reese confessed to the crimes. She told her nursing home attendants, “I did it. Lord, forgive me.”
4. Gabriela Gonzales
Gabriela Gonzales had a rough life. The 25-year-old was a victim of human trafficking. She was smuggled into the United States and then forced into sexual slavery. This violent upbringing may have something to do with the anger the woman was harboring. She escaped her captors and moved into a group home. Gonzales was tasked with babysitting two-year-old Kiery Nicole while her mother looked for work. The little girl had a bad rash and couldn’t stop crying. She wanted her mother and she wanted to feel better, but instead of providing her with quality care and loving attention, Gonzales shook the girl so hard, her “neck had to be snapping back and forth,” said prosecutors. What’s worse? She beat the child against a bathroom fixture, either the toilet or the bathtub. This caused skull fractures and spinal cord hemorrhages. In court, Gonzales showed no remorse for her crime and kept to her story, which was that the little girl had possibly strangled herself when she was jumping on the bed. The judge showed little sympathy for Gonzales whom he sentenced to 20 years in prison, the maximum sentenced allowed.
3. Michael Plumadore
There are few things children look forward to more than Christmastime, but for the remaining Lemmon daughters, Christmas is always a difficult time. On December 23, 2011, Michael Plumadore was charged with babysitting the three Lemmon girls. Plumadore resided in the same trailer park as the girls and told police that he assumed 9-year-old Aliahna had gone home (back to her own trailer), except she was nowhere to be found. Christmas came and went and still no Aliahna. Something terrible must have happened to her, but it took FBI involvement to get a confession from Plumadore. The night he babysat the Lemmon girls, he savagely beat Aliahna on the front steps of his trailer. Then, he used a hacksaw to dismember her. According to the police affidavit, “He put the pieces in garbage bags and tossed them into a dumpster of a nearby business but kept her head, hands, and feet in his freezer.” He never admitted a motive for murdering Aliahna, nor did he state why he didn’t also attack her sisters. If there’s any silver lining at all, it’s that Aliahna’s sisters escaped the monster, Plumadore. Thankfully, Plumadore will spend the rest of his life in prison with no opportunity for parole.
2. Helen Ford
Grandparents are meant to spoil their grandchild, but Helen Ford is not your typical grandmother. She tortured her 8-year-old grandchild, Gizzell Ford, and no one did a darned thing to help the poor girl. Gizzell was frequently looked after by her grandmother because her father had a chronic degenerative disease, which meant he was unable to care for her. He was also an unemployed felon with a great number of problems, and the girl’s mother was homeless and unable to care for her either. Despite these difficult circumstances, Gizzell was a great kid. She was an honor student and well-liked by anyone who came in contact with her. The abuses she sustained at the hands of her grandmother included being tied to a chair and beaten, being starved and emaciated, and being physically and emotionally tortured on a near-daily basis. Judge Evelyn Clay, who sentenced Ford to life without the possibility of parole said, “This murder was torture. That child suffered a slow and agonizing death. That little body looked like it had been pulverized from head to toe… Her treatment was evil.” In fact, Gizzel’s facial wounds were so horrific, the police forensic investigator wept as she described them to the courtroom.
1. Yoselyn Ortega
According to law enforcement officials, Yoselyn Ortega hated her employers. She resented them because they were wealthy and told her what to do. Ortega was employed by the Krims to look after their three children. They lived altogether on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in luxury accommodations. The Krims thought they had a good relationship with Ortega and never suspected their nanny would hurt their children. Unfortunately, while Marina Krim was taking her middle child to his swimming lesson, Ortega brutally murdered the two who were left behind. Poor Krim returned home to find her children slain. Their bodies were in the bathtub, which was full of bloodied water. Ortega had stabbed her two children, six-year-old Lucia and one-year-old Leo. With Krim present, Ortega slashed her own wrists and then stabbed herself in the neck with a kitchen knife. The two victims and Ortega were rushed to the hospital, but only Ortega survived. She was charged with murder and faces life in prison.