Amelia Dyer is regarded as one of history’s most heinous and notorious serial killers. She is said to have killed roughly 300 infants who she had taken in to “take care of” over the course of 20 years in Victorian England. She was a licensed nurse who engaged in the activity known as “baby farming,” which involved caring for unwanted infants in exchange for payment. She first performed her duties in a lawful manner, but the passing of her husband caused her to lose her mental equilibrium. She was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison when the children she was caring for began dying. After being freed from prison, she began killing additional infants who were left in her care. Throughout her life, she had also been accepted into a number of asylums. Only when she was taken into custody in April 1896 were her actions made public. She was put to death by English law after being accused of various horrifying acts. Since then, she has served as an inspiration for a number of plays, books, and movies.
Early Childhood & Life
Amelia Elizabeth Hobley was born Amelia Dyer in Bristol, England, in 1836. Samuel Hobley, her father, was a shoemaker, and Sarah Hobley, her mother, was a housewife. Despite not being the wealthiest family in Pyle Marsh, her father’s longstanding reputation as a skilled shoemaker allowed the family to maintain a respectable standard of living.
She grew up in a large family, according to the records, with four elder siblings. The children attended top-notch schools while leading a routine family life. Amelia did okay in school and had a strong interest in literature. She produced a lot of poetry and short stories when she was young, which impressed her teachers in school.
Sadly, typhus had impacted her mother’s mental state. The entire family started to become really concerned about this. She became more aggressive as the fever spread to her head and began to beat the kids virtually every day as a result. According to historians, this sparked intense animosity in Amelia’s subconscious psyche, which she allegedly suppressed.
She began to progressively veer into despair, which was made worse by the passing of two of her sisters. Amelia eventually moved to Bristol to live with her aunt after the passing of her mother. This assisted her in coping with her mother’s passing. In order to gain experience for a possible job, she began an internship with a corset maker.
Her older brother James took over the successful family business after her father passed away in 1859. After a dispute with her brother, she moved in with a lodge in Bristol permanently. She married George Thomas there when she was 24 after meeting him there.
Some historians contend that her spouse, who was a widower and well above 50 years old, lied about his age on official documents while also having a few years added to Amelia’s age. There hasn’t been any proof to back up the claim that he did this to close the age gap.
Baby farming and nursing
She was able to enroll in a nursing program with the assistance of her spouse. Amelia appeared content, and she later achieved success in the local “baby farming” business.
Illegitimate pregnancies were severely stigmatized at the time, and the children born from them were rejected by their families. In order to avoid expulsion from their families and from society, the mothers of these newborns frequently had to elope, either with or without their lovers.
As a result, the activity known as “baby farming” increased. As a result, various firms engaged in caring for such unborn children in exchange for a fee. Amelia’s experience as a nurse enabled her to profit well from her business.
She placed ads, spoke with prospective customers, and convinced them that she was a qualified nurse and an honorable married woman. She gave off the impression of being a polished, well-mannered woman. As a result, she began caring for an increasing number of newborns.
She began receiving payments on a weekly basis, but her thirst for more money led her to take in more infants than she could care for. As a result, she devised a plan to get rid of the kids, and over time, many of the kids in her care began to pass away.
It’s unclear if they were done on purpose. It’s thought that she ultimately starved the infants to death in order to save money. According to reports, she gave the children dangerous pharmaceutical injections that suppressed their appetites and ultimately resulted in their deaths.
When the number of fatalities rose, she came to the attention of the public and the law. She was ultimately found guilty of “negligence” and given a six-month prison term.
Murders and Mental Instability
Amelia developed mental instability and showed signs of suicidal ideation while she was incarcerated. She allegedly made two suicide attempts while being forced to perform very strenuous physical labor in prison. She suffered from depression for a while after being released from prison, and because of her declining mental state, she was even admitted to multiple psychiatric hospitals.
After her term in prison, she quickly resumed her damaging “baby farming” methods, but this time, she was more cautious because of the suspicions surrounding her actions. She regularly relocated.
However, by this point, a lot had changed. For instance, she was now consciously preparing to dispose of the children’s dead bodies. She even hired a young lady named Jane Smith to assist her in doing this delicately. Amelia was very cautious not to tell Jane about her actions, and to allay any suspicion, she seemed to be a devoted “mother figure.”
She strangled the infants in her care to death with white tape before tossing the bodies into the Thames. At the time, it was challenging for the doctors to determine whether the infants were murdered or stillborn. She received no substantial punishment as a result, and the number of newborn deaths increased daily. The local police launched an inquiry, but it was only partially complete because no one had been proven guilty.
Because she had previously been arrested, Amelia utilized various identities to maintain her anonymity. Her face had undergone significant changes due to years of frequent drinking, making it exceedingly challenging to identify her.
The number of deceased bodies exceeded 300 during the course of more than 20 years of this. The police began to investigate the situation seriously as the protesters grew in number. This prompted them to carefully examine the bodies they had discovered in the river.
In 1896, a tape with an address scrawled on it provided a lead for the police. Using the address, the authorities located Amelia, and she was brought into custody right away.
Trial & Execution
Amelia confessed to her crimes when being detained by the police, telling them that her victims could be identified by the “tape around their necks.” She was found guilty by the court in less than six minutes, and she was given the death penalty by hanging.
She made an attempt to prove her insanity during the trial in an effort to somehow rescue herself, but it was eventually established by the authorities that this was only a ruse to avoid the death penalty. She made a complete confession to all the killings in front of a chaplain during the three weeks before the punishment was to be carried out.
On June 10, 1896, she was hanged at “Newgate Prison.” She said, “I have nothing to say,” as her final words. At nine in the morning, James Billington executed her punishment.
After the Death of Amelia Dyer
Although the precise number of Amelia Dyer’s victims was never known, it is believed that she killed between 300 and 400 infants based on the bodies that have been found and the mothers’ statements.
Many individuals protested after the tragedy. The nation’s adoption rules soon become more stringent.
Some have hypothesized that she and another notorious Victorian serial killer, Jack the Ripper, are the same person because she was alive and active at the same time. Never was Jack the Ripper apprehended!
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth of Amelia Dyer is unknown.