Your newborn babies are each kidnapped in separate incidents, three years apart…what are the odds?
Fairly bloody unlikely.
Precious Victims by Don W Weber and Charles Bosworth Jr (published in 1991) is the story of Paula Sims, an Illinois mother who claimed her newborn daughters were kidnapped in 1986 and then 1989. Immediately you know it couldn’t be possible. That it is a fantasy concocted by the mother to hide something far more sinister.
I picked up this cop at an Op Shop in Melbourne last month (I find a lot of my true crime books in charity shops). I had never heard of this case before but certainly there have been cases I recall of mothers murdering their children – Andrea Yates in Texas who drowned her five children 2001 and in Melbourne, nurse Donna Fitchett who killed her two sons in 2005.
This book – co-written by the prosecution lawyer and journalist who followed the story from the start – is an exhaustive account of the strange world of Paula Sims and her husband Robert and the dogged police investigation into the babies’ murders. The reader always has the sense that the stories of kidnappings can’t be right. It is angering to keep reading about the couple sticking to the stories of gun-wielding kidnappers bursting in and taking their babies. And nothing else in the home was disturbed…
This was a difficult read – I guess because I am a mum of two girls and it appears that Sims murdered her own baby girls because she preferred male children. As shocking as that is in this modern day, it seemed to be her motive. The fact that a son – who was born in between babies Loralei and Heather – survived, makes this all the more upsetting. I cannot understand how someone could murder their babies.
The defence of post-partum depression and psychosis was offered up by Sims’s legal team. I absolutely believe that this condition can have dreadful and fatal effects on a mother but in Sims’s case you get the sense that this was used as an attempt to garner leniency from the judge.I won’t spoil any more of the story (though I’m guessing you can work out what happens).
(In the case of Andrea Yates I have no doubt that her severe post-partum psychosis and mental state was the reason she killed her children. I have linked to a very good paper in The Lancet about mental health and justice in relation to Yates. I think that things should have been done much earlier to help her and protect her children before she got to the point where she a) had five children after repeated bouts of severe psychosis and b) was left alone with them. Those children were also victims of inaction and poor choices on the part of Yates’s family and the medical profession.)
Precious Victims is an excellent read though beware if you have children. You can reliably buy used copies from Amazon and eBay.
POSTSCRIPT: Robert Sims and Randy, 27, the sole surviving child of Paula Sims died in a car crash in June, 2015. Robert Sims, 63 and Randy died when their sport-utility vehicle was forced off the road. The person in the other vehicle was charged with two counts of Aggravated DUI and one count of Leaving the Scene of an Accident.
According to an article from the Belleville-News Democrat, Randy Sims was a respected teacher and church member in his town of Edwardsville, Illinois. the young man had blossomed, despite being the son of the notorious murderer and was close with his father.