4 Dead Babies, Mother Judgment, and Genetic Wonder


That evening he wrote an email to Folbigg’s lawyer and said he had entered. When he researched this research, he thought that his scientific work could help guide the legal system closer to reality. Little did he realize that during the next two years, he would be confronted with a series of painful questions about his life — as a scientist and as a parent. In her email to the lawyer, she wrote, “As a mother, I do not think of any other reason to waste time and effort. It is hard for me to believe that someone has been in prison for this.”

Kathleen Megan Briton was born in the winter of 1967 in the working class of Balmain, Sydney. His father, Thomas, was a pilot in a nearby harbor. His mother, Kathleen (who gave him a name), worked in a factory. Thomas was violent; Kathleen drank heavily. After a fierce battle, Kathleen fled, leaving behind her 18-month-old daughter and Thomas. Weeks later when he was drunk, Thomas hid his wife in the street and told her to come home. When he refused, he stabbed her 24 times with a 12-inch-long[25 cm]sculpture.

For a year, newborn Kathleen was placed in the care of her aunt and grandmother. He was then sent to a children’s home, and from there to a foster family in Newcastle, a coal mining town some 60 miles[100 km]north of Sydney. The new family fed and dressed Kathleen and sent her to school, but her adoptive mother was brave and, according to court documents, beat her with a feather-bit handle when she made a mistake. His adoptive father was far away. At age 17, Kathleen dropped out of high school and moved in with a friend. One weekend, she was dancing at a club and met a lovely man named Craig Folbigg. He was 23 years old, a good speaker, and worked as a forklift driver for the town’s largest mining company. They started dating, fell in love, and soon moved into a new apartment in downtown Newcastle. Craig, who came from a large Catholic family, lost his mother when he was a teenager. He was eager to start a family. Kathleen also longed for peace.

In 1987, when Kathleen was 20, the couple were married. A year and a half later, in early February 1989, Kathleen gave birth to their first child. She named him Caleb. On February 20, Kathleen recalls getting up to feed the baby at 1:00 am and then go back to sleep. Two hours later he got up and went to the bathroom and went to look for her. Caleb was not breathing. “My child, there is a problem with my child,” she said he becomes. Craig rushed and tested CPR, and told Kathleen to call an ambulance. The hospital was unable to raise the boy. He was pronounced dead at the age of 19 days.

Folbiggs’ second child, Patrick, was born a year later. One night when she was 4 months old, Kathleen heard Patrick coughing. She went to his bed to comfort him, and he fell asleep again. At about 4:30 am, he looked inside and saw that she was weak, blue, and restless. Craig underwent CPR when Kathleen called for medical attention. She rushed him to the hospital, where he regained consciousness. Doctors at the hospital said that Patrick suffered from what is known as a “life-threatening condition,” a rare disease that mainly affects children under the age of 1. Patrick was left with a brain injury that left him partially paralyzed and in a coma — and now regular monitoring. Kathleen, who was looking forward to returning to work after her birth, decided to stay home to care for the boy while Craig worked a tedious job at a local car dealership. About four months later, on February 13, 1991, Kathleen phoned Craig at work, exhausted. “It has happened again,” she cried. “I want you.” By the time Craig got home, Patrick was dead. She was 8 months old.

In October 1992, Kathleen gave birth to a third child, and they named her Sarah. At this point, the Folbiggs moved Sarah’s bed into their bedroom to watch her as she slept. On August 30, 1993, Craig laid Sarah to rest at about 10:30 p.m. A few hours later, Kathleen recalls going to see her and listening to her breath. When he heard something, he turned on the light. Sarah was blue and motionless. She was pronounced dead at 10 months and 16 days old.



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