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Notorious Famous Woman, Female Serial Killers, Amelia Dyers the Baby Butcher

Updated on June 28, 2017

Notorious Famous Woman, Female Serial Killers, Amelia Dyers the Baby Butcher

At any one time there are a minimum of twelve serial killers in America. At least one of these will be a female serial killer. Women serial killers have been involved in blood thirsty murders for centuries, usually preying on babies and their own husbands or boyfriends.

Women who kill are more common than people realise. Many women serial killers get away with literal murder, by being more convincing in their stories and leaving little evidence. Some of the reasons for killing involve money, and lots of it, some serial killers murder for the thrill whilst others do it out of a macabre fascination, whilst others do it for sexual gratification.

Men are easy prey for determined female serial killers. Most females lure their male victims using provocative methods and using the mans testosterone levels against them. Women in certain situations may have an idea about what can happen to them, men do not. Men usually think that they have the upper hand in any circumstance, but time and time again, it is proved that they do not.

Amelia Dyer

The Woman Who Murdered Babies For Money

Amelia Elizabeth Dyer, born in Pyle Marsh village just outside Bristol, England. Her father was a shoe maker and her mother suffered mental illness after contracting typhus. It was this mental illness of her mothers that people later blamed for Amelia becoming a female serial killer with a possibility of over 400 murders.

Amelias mother died from her illness in 1848, constantly shouting with delusions and illusions. It was her mothers illness that taught Amelia how people showed signs of losing their minds through mental illness, and was to help her in later life to kill hundreds of innocent people.

After the death of her father in 1859, Amelia moved into lodgings in Trinity Street, Bristol. She married an older man named George Thomas, and they both lied about their ages, he reduced his age by 11 years, and Amelia increased hers by six years. This was a confusing factor when determining how many people Amelia Dyer had killed when she became known as a female serial killer.

Amelia Dyer
Amelia Dyer

Buying Illegitamate Babies

Amelia trained as a nurse for several years which was a hard and sometimes gruelling occupation in Victorian England, but it did enable her to learn some useful skills. She began to sub-let her rooms out to ladies who had conceived illegitimately, then would sell the babies or simply leave them to starve and die in one of her rooms.

Many impoverished mothers were paid £5 for their baby, with Amelia 'farming' the baby for £50 or more. If a baby was noisy, Amelia would give them alcohol or opiates, which was a medicine made with opium. Amelia would also charge the fathers of the illegitimate child to keep it a secret. Many babies about this time died of opium poisoning more than starvation. Victorian coroners would simply record the cause of death as malnutrition, so it will never be known exactly how many babies Amelia had killed.

Baby Murders

Amelia began to advertise as a nurse who wished to adopt a baby, as well as her other business of taking in pregnant women. She would charge the parents of a baby a substantial one off payment for her to adopt it and take care of a child till he or she reached sixteen years of age. She promised her clients that she was married ( even though her husband had already died )

At some stage in her baby farming career, Amelia was inclined not to allow the babies to die of neglect and starvation, this was taking to long and the noise or crying children may of attracted the authorities. Amelia began to kill the babies within days or hours of receiving them.

The Governesses Baby

Amelia eluded the police and the NSPCC for some time, but in 1879 a physician became suspicious of the amount of deaths of children in her care. She was only charged with neglect and sentenced to six months hard labor. Other crimes of the day carried a stronger prison sentence and nobody could understand why her sentence was so lenient.

After being released, Amelia tried to resume her nursing career as a child farmer, and at times when it was convenient for her to disappear to elude the authorities again, she would claim mental instability. This would mean her being locked away in a Victorian Mental Institute for several months at a time. This would again allow her to avoid the police investigations into the number of baby deaths at her home.

Female serial killer Amelia Dyer became addicted to alcohol and opium based products, which may of led to her mental instability. In 1890, Dyer adopted an illegitimate baby of a governess. The governess returned a few months later to see her baby, but was shown a different baby that Dyer was trying to pass on as the Governesses. The Governess raised the alarm to authorities when she could not see a birthmark which her real baby had.

Dyer feigned a breakdown and was sent to a mental institution again for a short period of time.

The Beginning of the End

Amelia Dyer began to see her folly in involving physcians for death certificates for the babies she was killing nearly every week. Instead she beagn to dispose of the little bodies herself. She had to move very frequently to avoid the suspicions of local police and parents seeking to see their children. Using different alises, Amelia Dyer was able to move home every few months and take out newspaper adverts to advertise her baby adoption services.

In 1896, Dyer had her last stay at Wells mental asylum after a mental breakdown. On release she mover to Caversham in Berkshire to carry on her deadly trade, within months she was forced to move to Kensington Road, Reading, Bershire, due to police investigations.

Baby Corpses

In 1896, a barmaid gave birth to an illegitimate daughter named Doris. She advertised in the 'Bristol Times & Mirror' for a child carer to take care of her daughter until she could reclaim her after she had set herself up with a proper home.

Another advert took her eye in the same newspaper, it read:-

"Married couple with no family would adopt healthy child, nice country home. Terms, £10. I should be glad to have a dear little baby girl, one I could bring up and call my own. We are plain, homely people, in fairly good circumstances. I don't want a child for money's sake, but for company and home comfort. ... Myself and my husband are dearly fond of children. I have no child of my own. A child with me will have a good home and a mother's love".

It was undersigned by a Mrs Harding, one of Dyers Aliais'. The barmaid handed over her daughter and the £10 fee. Dyer said she was returning with the child to he lovely home in Reading, but she did not. Dyer took the child to 76 Mayo Road, Willesden, London where she tied edging tape used for dressmaking around the babies neck and tied a knot. Death would not of been quick.

Disposal of Bodies

The body was wrapped in a large napkin. On Wednesday April 1st, 1896 ( the next day ) another child, Henry Simmons, 13 months old, was given to Dyers for temporary adoption. Dyers had no tape left, so used the cord from around Doris's corpse to strangle the boy to death.

On April 2nd, the two tiny bodies were wrapped in an old carpetbag with bricks for extra weight. At a secluded spot near a weir at Caversham Lock, she forced the bodies through railings and let the bodies fall into the River Thames.

Amelias' Paper Advert

A Serial Killers Capture

Unknown at this time to Amelia, on March 30th, 1896, a small package was retrieved from the River Thames containing the body of a small girl and some incriminating evidence. A label with the aliases name of Mrs Thomas and the address were also found.

Although this led the police to Dyer, they needed evidence of her involvement and police from Bristol were contacted for more information. When the police raided Dyers rented accommodation, the stench of human decomposition was unbearable for many of the police officers.

Inside the home there were letters from parents wishing to contact their children, clothes from many children, receipts from pawnbrokers where clothes were sold, and telegrams arranging adoptions. Although there were no human remain found, there was enough incriminating evidence to arrest her.

Babies Death Toll at Over 400

In the three months prior to her arrest, Amelia Dyer had received 21 children for adoption, none were ever found alive, and some have never been found at all. It was also discovered that Dyers was about to move to Somerset and begin her baby adoption scheme in that area. It is assumed that due to evidence, Amelia Dyer had killed over 400 babies within twenty years, although there may be many more, this makes Amelia Dyer, the wolrds most prolific woman serial killer of all time.

Dyer picked up a baby for adoption one night and arrived home twenty minutes later carrying only a brown paper bundle containing a child's clothes. This was the baby that was found floating in the River Thames which led to Amelia's downfall. She had simply strangled the baby and thrown the body into the river.


On May 22nd 1896, Amelia Dyer appeared at the Old Bailey Court and pleaded guilty to only one murder. Although evidence could not connect Dyers to murder, as nearly all corpses have never been found, she had written five textbooks full of confessions. She told police that she knew which were her bodies by the edging tape around their necks.

She was sentenced to death in a jury deliberation that lasted only four minutes. She was hung until dead at Newgate prison three weeks later.

Only three bodies that female serial killer Amelia Dyers murdered have ever been identified.

Rest in hell Amelia Dyers, the Baby Butcher Of Reading.

Other Famous Female Serial Killers

Aileen Wuornos

Killer prostitute with no morals

Jane Toppan

Sexual lust drove her wild at death time

Nannie Doss

Killed her mother, nephews, mother-in-law and most of her other relatives


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Absolutely mind boggling! I'm glad this evil woman was caught. Over 400 babies?! May she burn in hell forever!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This is a world without contraception or abortion. People had sex outside marriage even in Victorian England. There is NO such time and place where everyone was able to have all children safely inside a loving home where men went to work and women stayed home and everything was wonderful. That world never happened. It will never happen. Take away abortion rights and contraception and we will be back to this.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I think this is quite funny and intreeging, that's not all bad, or is it? If all those baby's would have lived how over populated would you think the world would be? There loss, not mine. Less the maryer.

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 

      6 years ago from Mason City

      That was horrible what she did to all those babies, before she was hung. Very interesting.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm glad she's already n he'll people the hurt kids that's where belong it's horrible the somany babies die before this monster got send where she belongs.

    • profile image

      Vicky Forward 

      7 years ago

      Who could ever do something like that. She couldn't of had a heart or soul!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      That was the most horrible thing I have ever read. I do not understand why or how a person could endanger a child.


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