A biweekly article series about serial killers, posted on their birthday, by a true crime junkie. This killer series of articles will leave you dying to read the next.
Marybeth Tinning, originally Marybeth Roe, was born 76 years ago on September 11, making her a Virgo. She grew up in the small town of Duanesburg, New York. While her father was deployed and her mom working, Marybeth would stay with relatives. While staying with a relative, they told Marybeth that her conception was an accident. She would later tell her younger brother, “You were the one they wanted, not me.”
Marybeth claimed, once, that her father abused her as a child, beating her and locking her in a closet.
She graduated high school in 1961 and eventually secured a job as a nursing assistant at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, New York, only 20 minutes away from her hometown.
On a blind date with friends in 1963, she would meet her husband, Joseph Tinning. They were married in 1965 and had their first child, Barbara, in 1967, and their second, Joseph, in 1970.
In 1974, in the midst of a dispute with Marybeth, Joseph (the husband not the son) was taken to the hospital after ingesting a lethal dose of barbiturate. Marybeth was accused of putting pills in her husband’s grape juice, but he did not press charges.
In 1971, their third child, Jennifer, was born but died at 8-days-old from birth complications before she had even left the hospital. Due to this, investigators do not think Marybeth played a role in Jennifer’s death. 17 days after this death, Marybeth takes Joseph Jr. to the hospital and he passes away, supposedly from cardiac arrest. A few weeks later, Marybeth takes Barbara, who is having convulsions, to the hospital. She dies after spending one day in the hospital in a coma-like state.
In 1973, Marybeth gave birth to Timothy. Weeks later, he was brought back to the hospital dead. Marybeth claimed she had found him dead in his crib.
In 1975, their fifth child, Nathan, is born. In a few months, he dies while in the car with Marybeth. She stated that she had noticed he had stopped breathing while sitting in the front seat of the car.
The Tinnings adopted a child named Michael as an infant in 1978. Later that year, Marybeth had another child, Mary Frances. A year later, Marybeth took Mary Frances to the hospital, saying she had a seizure. The staff was able to save her. A month later, Marybeth returned with Mary Frances in full cardiac arrest. She was revived but had irreversible brain damage. She died two days later when she was taken off life support.
The same year, Jonathan was born. In March of 1980, he passed away after he was taken off of life support.
Their adopted child, Michael, who was now two-and-a-half-years old, was taken to the doctor because he was unconscious. He passed away in 1981. Since Michael was adopted and not genetically related, the theory that the deaths in the family were a genetically related issue was proven false.
In 1985, Tami Lynne was born. She died later that year from asphyxiation. The day of her passing, the Tinnings family were visited by social services and the police department.
There were six autopsies done on the children of the Tinnings; none of them showed signs of abuse.
Marybeth and Joseph were taken to the police department for questioning around the death of Tami Lynne. During the interrogation, Marybeth signed a confession to the murders of Nathan, Timothy and Tami Lynne, which she later retracted.
She was charged with the murder of Tami Lynne.
The trial lasted six weeks and the jury deliberated for 23 hours over three days. Marybeth Tinning was found guilty of one count of second-degree murder. She received a sentence of 20 years to life. None of her children lived past the age of four.
She later stated that she killed Tami Lynne so she would not meet the same fate as her siblings.
On her seventh attempt, Marybeth was released on parole on August 21, 2018. She had served 31 years. She will remain under supervision for the rest of her life.
The following is a quotation from a parole board transcript hearing on January 10, 2017:
“Q: How many children do you have, madam?
A: I have none now.
Q: You have none now, correct?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: How many did you have?
Did Marybeth’s other children die from natural causes? Is this a case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy? Should Marybeth be spending the rest of her life in prison for the murders of nine children, or, should she be where she is, out on parole?
Cover Photo: BETTMANN ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES