Amelia Elizabeth Dyer was born in 1838 in Pyle Marsh, Bristol, England. She was the fifth child of a shoemaker named Samuel Hobley and his wife, Sarah Hobley. It is known that Amelia received a reasonably good education, and she was fascinated by poetry and literature.
The family lived in quite good prosperity, and Amelia did not know the needs and hardships. The main thing that darkened her childhood was her mother’s mental disorder, which she acquired after surviving the typhus epidemic.
In 1861, 24-year-old Amelia married a man much older than her – her husband George Thomas was 59 years old at the wedding time. However, their life together began to border on poverty; Amelia moved into a nurse, then a midwife, opened an underground maternity hospital at home. She mastered many useful medical skills, including midwifery, which in those days was a very respectable business and could bring an excellent income. She performed abortions (at that time, it was not legally allowed), arranged newborns in other families.
Soon, Amelia gave birth to a daughter, and in the same month, her husband died, so a young woman with a small child was in a rather difficult financial situation. However, she already knew everything about the business.’ Therefore, without suffering for a long time, she began to look for herself ‘clients.’ After thinking a lot, she decided to open her baby farm. She took the children from unmarried women to maintain and receive payment for this. Here, by the way, her education, respectability, and medical education were beneficial – people saw in front of them a professionally trained nurse, a decent young lady, whom it was not at all scary to entrust their unfortunate and illegitimate child. So, receiving £ 10 and a box of clothes for a year for each child, Amelia soon set up a real children care center.
However, the secret of this successful business was quite scary – the children who ended up in Amelia’s house became real drug addicts from the very first days. This was the effect of Godfrey’s Cordial tincture, also known as Mother’s Friend, a very popular medicine that, in large doses, made babies completely exhausted and soon die. At first glance, the children were sleeping peacefully in their cradles, but this dream was caused by the action of a drug that slowed down all life processes.
Amelia’s business has been afloat for many years. She acted according to a well-established scheme and was not afraid of the consequences. She called herself an ” angel-maker, “explaining the killing of children by the harsh necessity. She said that babies in heaven would be much better than on sinful earth.
But in 1879, she came under police suspicion and was soon arrested due to children’s high mortality rate. No matter how paradoxical it may sound, but for her actions, Dyer received 6 months in hard labor – the court found her guilty only of ‘neglect,’ and the sentence was fabulously mild.
When she was released, she attempted to continue the business, but everything did not go so smoothly from the very beginning – the governess who gave her the child soon came to visit her and noticed that instead of her child, Amelia slipped her another. However, she managed to get out of such a delicate situation quite easily.
A few months later, Amelia swallowed opium and feigned suicide. After that, she was placed in a psychiatric hospital instead of being put on trial. But Amelia continued her work, and the number of children killed was increasing.
In 1893, doctors recognized her as sane once and for all. Her daughter had already grown up and married. Amelia succeeded again in receiving her next victim. Young and pretty Evelina Mormon was wrong in choosing a man. As soon as he learned that his girlfriend had become pregnant, he disappeared. Lonely girls with children in Victorian England were judged. A Mormon could lose her job and hence her livelihood.
Evelina had no choice, and she decided to give her daughter into “good hands.” The girl hoped that she would be able to put Doris in a prosperous family that would take care of her.
The mother was anxious about the baby, but she believed the respectable-looking Dyer and was discouraged when, after a short time, she did not answer her letter. The baby’s corpse was found in March 1896 by the Thames on a barge, and it was taken to the police. Soon the trail led the police to Amelia. She was taken under surveillance, and soon there was enough evidence for an arrest. Moreover, her daughter and son-in-law gave a vivid testimony that convinced the court to sentence Amelia.
Very soon, the most terrible figure ever sounded in connection with the mass killings of children surfaced – Amelia was accused of killing 400 children. The trial began on May 22, 1896, and ended with a death sentence.
Amelia Dyer was hanged in Newgate Prison on June 10, 1896, at 9 am. The last words of the criminal were: “I have nothing to say.”