There’s no doubt that raising children is stressful. Constantly worrying about their well being is almost a full time occupation in itself, so it’s no wonder that parents need a break every now and again to recharge their batteries.
Of course, the promise of a night off comes with a new challenge; finding someone to take care of the kids for a few hours while the adults are off letting their hair down. Handing over your most precious possession to somebody else can be a worrisome experience in itself. Obviously these worries are usually unfounded, and parents return home to happy children sleeping soundly.
However, there have been rare occasions when every parents’ nightmare has become a reality; the person placed in charge of caring for their child actually ends up putting them in harm’s way. Whether the babysitter is a neighborhood teen, an agency nanny or even a member of the family, sometimes the wrong person ends up in a position of trust, and as these chilling stories prove, the results can be tragic.
15. Abigail Hanna
21-year-old babysitter Abigail Hanna, from Massachusetts, had had a privileged upbringing, growing up in a million dollar family home and attending a $18,000-a-year private Christian Preparatory school. Given this, she probably would be the last person anyone would suspect of harming a toddler, but that’s exactly what happened on November 20, 2015. On that night, she broke into the home of a family she had recently babysat for, and abducted two-year-old Lyndon Albers.
The little girl was found three hours later by passers, naked and alone, eight miles from home. She had cigarette burns and bruises on her body and her head had been shaved. She was taken to hospital but released the next day. Hanna was charged with kidnapping, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a child, and breaking and entering. She was sentenced to five-to-seven years in prison, with a following ten years on probation.
14. Alexis Khan
South Carolina couple Benjamin and Hope Jordan, thought they’d found the perfect babysitter for their 7-month-old son Finn, in 2012. They’d hired 22-year-old Alexis Khan following a thorough interview process complete with background checks, but the woman taking care of their son was not all she seemed.
“About five months into her being our babysitter,” Benjamin Jordan told WCSC, “We started to notice that our dog was very protective of our son when she would come in the door. He was very aggressive towards her and a few times we actually had to physically restrain our dog from going towards her.”
Wondering what was wrong with the dog, they decided to secretly film Khan when she was left alone with their son. The result was catching the babysitter shouting at and slapping the infant, who was clearly distressed. As a result of their discovery Khan was charged with assault and battery and sentenced to one to three years in prison, as well as a lifetime ban from working with children.
13. Yoselyn Ortega
On October 25, 2012, Marina Krim returned to her apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side only to find her two-year-old son, Leo and six-year-old daughter, Lucia, lying unresponsive in the bathtub with multiple stab wounds. The culprit responsible for the ferocious attack was Yoselyn Ortega, the family’s 50-year-old part-time nanny. After Marina Krim made the horrific discovery, Ortega began stabbing herself in the neck and throat.
The children were taken to hospital but sadly succumbed to their injuries. Ortega survived her self-inflicted wounds and later told police that she was upset that the Krims would not pay her more, as she was struggling with money. After undergoing years of mental health evaluations she was deemed mentally competent to stand trial in 2016, however no date has been set as of yet. In 2016 she turned down a plea deal which would have given her a prison sentence of 30 years to life in return for pleading guilty to both murders.
12. Michael Plumadore
In 2011 39-year-old Michael Plumadore was given the responsibility of watching his neighbours’ children, nine-year-old Aliahna and her two six-year-old sisters in his mobile home. He lived in the same Fort Wayne trailer park as the family and was a trusted friend who had helped look after the children’s dying grandfather.
Given the family’s close friendship with Plumadore, they never could’ve predicted the horrific act he would go on to commit that night. As he later confessed to police, Plumadore killed Aliahna by hitting her over the head with a brick, then dismembered her body with a hacksaw. Investigators found the girl’s head, hands and feet in his freezer, while the other remains were left in a dumpster at a gas station.
11. Karl McCluney
Karl McCluney was just 15 years old when he was charged with the murder of a two-year-old girl he had been babysitting in 2009. The teenager, from Manchester, UK, was looking after Demi Leigh Mahon for just a couple of hours while her mother was out shopping.
However, after taking her to the park McCluney submitted the little girl to a violent attack once back at the apartment, inflicting a total of 68 injuries by punching, kicking and biting her. He then simply sat watching TV as she lay injured on the floor. When Demi’s mother returned home McCluney told her “I picked her up ‑ I might have hurt her ‑ and she fell in the park.”
The little girl was taken to hospital but the attack was so brutal that she was left brain-damaged through being repeatedly punched in the face. Her life support machine was switched off two days later. McCluney meanwhile was charged with murder and ordered to be detained for a minimum of 15 years.
10. Helen Patricia Moore
The story of Helen Patricia Moore is undoubtedly one of the most disturbing cases of deadly babysitting in history. By the time she was 18 years old she had already murdered three children – one of which was her own brother – and attempted to kill two more.
Her killing spree began in 1979 when she smothered her 16 month old cousin while he was in her care, though the death was thought to be cot death at the time.
Months later she attempted to smother another baby, but thankfully he survived. She then tried again on a two-year-old, and though the child survived she was left blind and severely disabled following the attack. Just two weeks later she murdered another two-year-old.
She was finally caught in March of 1980 after pushing her 7-year-old brother down the stairs. At this point she confessed to the other attacks and told police that she “loved killing”. Despite the severity of her crimes she only served 13 years in prison, being released in 1993.
9. Joanne Simmons
On the 31st of October 2016, 20-year-old babysitter Joanne Simmons was hired to look after three young children while their mother was at work, after advertising her services on Care.com. However, when the mother returned home at 4:30pm she was greeted by a rather disturbing sight; her children, aged four, two and one, had been abandoned in the house – the door unlocked and the younger two’s diapers unchanged.
“It appears that the children were never cared for,” a police officer who arrived at the scene later wrote. Simmons was eventually tracked down, and after admitting to abandoning the young children at the house she gave a rather bizarre motive for doing so, stating that she had felt the need to leave as the home wasn’t clean. She was arrested on charges of child neglect then later released from jail on a $3,000 bond the next day.
8. Hui Zhang
Hui Zhang was babysitting a two-month-old boy in Paris when he allegedly died in his sleep. Rather than inform the authorities, Zhang and her boyfriend Te, decided to try and bribe the child’s parents into keeping quiet about the death. However, according to the couple, the parents attacked them after seeing their baby’s lifeless body, and as a result Zhang and Te murdered them and dismembered them, scattering their body parts in nearby woodland.
Zhang and Te gave themselves into police after body parts were discovered in 2012. They had fled to China after the killings but allegedly returned to France out of fear of the death penalty in their home country. The child’s body was never found. “It’s true, I killed them, and I will regret it for the rest of my life,” Hui Zhang said at the start of the hearing. The couple were eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison.
7. Elzbieta Plackowska
In October 2012, Elzbieta Plackowska, from Illinois, was babysitting five-year-old Olivia Dworakowski, along with her seven-year-old son Justin, at the Dworakowski home when she snapped in the most horrific way possible. Feeling neglected by her long-haul trucker husband and seeking revenge, she took a kitchen knife and stabbed their son 100 times.
Plackowska then turned her murderous attention to Olivia, stabbing her 50 times as she had witnessed the crime. She also killed the family’s two dogs. She then gave several different stories to the police, initially stating that an intruder had committed the murders, then saying the devil had killed them, then that they had been possessed by the Devil.
She eventually confessed to the grisly murders, and has been in the DuPage County Jail since then, undergoing years of mental health evaluations. It is thought she will finally stand trial in the Spring of 2017.
6. Krystle Rochelle Tanner
8-month-old Miguel Morin had been missing for two years when the case officially went cold in 2006. The little boy had been taken from his family’s home in Houston, Texas in 2004, though who was behind the crime remained a mystery. That was until 2012, when 26-year-old Krystle Rochelle Tanner was arrested. Tanner was the godmother and occasional babysitter of Miguel, and had abducted him and kept him hidden for eight years.
The boy’s whereabouts only became known by chance when authorities were investigation allegations of child neglect made against Tanner and her boyfriend. Investigators found that the pair had denied Miguel proper medical care and kept him out of school. Tanner was eventually sentenced to eight years for the kidnapping, and another eight for reckless injury to a child.
5. Sara Svensson
In the early hours of January 10, 2004, 23-year-old Alexandra Fossmo was found dead in her bed, having been shot in the head at her home in Uppsala, Sweden. Her neighbor, 30-year-old Daniel Linde, was also shot in the head and chest but survived the attack after phoning the emergency services.
The next day, the Fossmo family’s nanny, 26-year-old Sara Svensson, confessed to the shootings. However, the case proved to be anything but straightforward. It was revealed that Helge Fossmo, a pastor and the husband of victim Alexandra Fossmo, had actually convinced the mentally unbalanced Svensson to commit the crimes by sending her anonymous text messages claiming to be from God. He had been having an affair with Daniel Linde’s wife.
4. David McGreavy
Babysitter David McGreavy became known as the “Monster of Worcester” after one night of horrific brutality. After being kicked out of his parent’s home in 1972, 21-year-old McGreavy moved in with his friends Clive and Elsie, along with their three small children; four-year-old Paul, one-year-old Dawn and baby Samantha, who was born shortly after he moved in.
With both Clive and Elsie working full-time jobs, McGreavy began acting as babysitter for the family, given that he was a trusted friend who seemingly adored the children. However, on the night of April 13th, 1973, things took an unexpected and extremely dark turn. After returning home drunk from the pub to look after them, he ended up murdering all three children.
After fracturing Samantha’s skull, slitting Dawn’s throat and strangling Paul, McGreavy then mutilated their bodies with a pickaxe before finally impaling their bodies on a neighbor’s iron fence. He was picked up by police later that night, and eventually sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 20 years. The only motive he has ever given for the brutal killings is that baby Samantha wouldn’t stop crying.
3. Marina Kougadova
When Russian mother Yulia Kouranova, was offered a 6-month work placement in the tourism sector she was worried about leaving her two-year-old daughter, Lena, behind, unable to take her with her. Instead, she hired 24-year-old Marina Kougadova to look after the child full-time, in order to put her mind at ease. Yulia called home whenever she could, but Marina always told her that her daughter was asleep or too busy playing to come to the phone.
However, the reality was somewhat more sinister. Marina had actually abandoned the child at a hair salon after leaving without paying. The salon owner said: “The little girl sat there quietly while the woman who I thought was her mother was getting her hair done, and when it came to pay, she said she had forgotten her money in her car and would leave the girl with me while she went to collect it. It was really surreal when she didn’t come back and at 9pm at night I was still sitting there with a girl.”
In a rather bizarre twist, the salon owner kept the little girl with her for two weeks before finally deciding to notify the police. A public appeal was then made to identify the youngster, which thankfully Yulia saw on TV and mother and daughter were finally reunited.
2. Marquita Burch
26-year-old Marquita Burch had been left in charge of 13-month-old William Cunningham on May 22, 2012, when she claimed he had been snatched from the garden. However, when police began to notice discrepancies in her story they brought her in for questioning, and she eventually told them where to find his body — in a closet at her cousin’s house.
Though at first Burch said that William had fallen down the stairs, investigators found that she had injured the child before putting him to bed. When she awoke the next morning to find him dead, she took him in a garbage bag to her relative’s house before reporting him missing. She was charged with endangering a child, involuntary manslaughter and gross abuse of a corpse and was sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters said: “This child did not have to die. It is bad enough that Burch injured the child, but horrible to think of the child’s suffering. It’s clear the child might have survived if the defendant had sought prompt medical treatment.”
1. Gyulchekhra Bobokulova
The next story shocked the world last year due to the brutality of the crime. 38-year-old nanny Gyulchekhra Bobokulova, strangled her four-year-old charge Anastasia Meshcheryakova on February 29th, 2016 and after beheading her, paraded her severed head around the streets of Moscow, Russia before being caught by police.
Bobokulova told investigators that she committed the unthinkable act in retaliation for Putin’s aerial bombardment of Muslims in Syria, stating that she had heard a voice in her head telling her to do it. She then set fire to the family’s apartment.
She later explained how she had watched videos of ISIS beheadings online, saying: “I saw online how they were cutting off heads. This hatred. There was a voice in my head: ‘Do it to the girl’. I saw how they cut off heads and I did it. The voices – I killed the girl, yes. But I don’t need treatment.’
It was reported in late 2016 that Bobokulova wouldn’t face criminal charges due to mental illness, so she has instead been sentenced to compulsory treatment at a psychiatric hospital.