Two decades ago, Kathleen Folbig was convicted of suffocating her four young children. Australian tabloids called her the country’s worst female serial killer.
But Ms. who was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Folbigg insists he is innocent. And in recent years, a growing number of scientists began to argue that she was telling the truth. Genetic evidence, he said, suggested the children had died of natural causes.
On Monday, New South Wales Attorney General Michael Daley said Ms. Folbigg, 55, announced that he had been granted a full pardon and released from prison. He cited the official inquiry’s preliminary conclusion that there was “reasonable doubt” about her guilt.
“New evidence has come to light about what is the difference between today and what happened in the past,” Mr. Daley said. “It is appropriate that we have procedures in place to reexamine the origin of the questions in light of new evidence.”
Ms. There was no immediate comment from Folbigg or his attorney.
Former New South Wales Chief Justice Tom Bathurst, who presided over the official inquiry, said in a statement on Monday that he “cannot accept the proposition that Ms Folbig was a caring mother to her children”.
They concluded that there was a reasonable probability that three of the four children died of natural causes, and that prosecutors’ argument that she killed the fourth relied on “coincidence and propensity evidence,” he said.
Ms. All four of Folbig’s children died before age 2: Caleb, at 19 days, in 1989; Patrick, at 8 months, almost two years later; Sarah, at 10 months, in 1993; and Laura, at 18 months, in 1999.
Initially, the deaths appeared to be just a series of horrific tragedies. Two are believed to be from sudden infant death syndrome, the third from suffocation. The coroner concluded that Laura died of “undetermined” causes.
But Ms. After Folbigg’s husband found one of her diary entries, saying Sarah had left the world “with a little help”, he turned her in to the police.
As prosecutors allege, Ms. There is no direct evidence that Folbigg suffocated the children. She told authorities that her diary entries reflected the stress of motherhood and that “a little help” referred to her hope that God had taken her child home.
But at her 2003 trial, prosecutors argued that four young children in the same family over a 10-year period were more likely to fly than pigs to die of natural causes. The jury agreed, and Ms. Folbigg, then 35, was found guilty of the murders of Patrick, Sarah and Laura, and Caleb’s manslaughter.
But in recent years, Ms. Geneticists found that Folbigg and her two daughters had a rare genetic mutation known as the CALM2 gene. In 2020, an international team of scientists published a research paper concluding that the mutation could lead to fatal cardiac arrhythmias.
Since scientists began raising questions about the case, two official inquiries have been held. First, in 2018, Ms. Folbigg found that there was no reasonable doubt of his guilt.
A second trial led by Justice Bathurst began last year after more than 90 prominent scientists, including two Nobel laureates, petitioned the governor to immediately release Ms Folbig. In addition to examining genetic research, Ms. A second trial heard testimony from a psychiatric expert who said Folbigg’s diary entries did not contain clear admissions of guilt.