Grab your popcorn, true crime fans, because do I have a doozy for you. Scientists now believe that Kathleen Folbigg, otherwise known as ‘Australia’s worst female serial killer‘, jailed for the murder of her four children, is actually innocent, and should be released. Wild stuff right here.
Thanks to advances in medical research, a team of 76 Australian and 14 international scientists claim that it is incredibly likely all four of Folbigg’s children died of natural causes, due to a rare gene inherited from their parents.
Folbigg was arrested in 2001, twenty whole years ago, for the murder of her children Patrick, Sarah and Laura, and the manslaughter of her son Caleb. The murders occurred over the span of ten years, with each child dying in their sleep suddenly and without explanation.
According to The Guardian, the medical records of each of Folbigg’s children described pre-existing conditions within each of them that could have very easily been triggers for sudden death.
Patrick suffered from a series of epileptic seizures, Caleb suffered from breathing difficulties since birth, and the two daughters Sarah and Laura were diagnosed with respiratory infections only a few days before they died in their sleep.
The team of 90 scientists have signed a petition for the release of Folbigg, claiming that there is enough evidence now to suggest that the natural passing of all four of these children is incredibly likely, given their mutated genes and pre-existing conditions before death.
The petition has been sent to NSW governor Margaret Beazley, and includes signatures from individuals such as Australians of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley (2003) and Professor Ian Frazer (2006), as well as Nobel prize winner Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Blackburn.
Professor Carola Garcia de Vinuesa from the Australian National University, who also worked in this team, told COSMOS about the process of discovering the rare gene within Kathleen Folbigg.
“Given that it was much more complicated to extract the genome of the children, there was a chance that Kathleen herself might be carrying one of these variants, because they tend to be inherited,” she said.
“Folbigg could have been carrying these mutations and passed them on to her children.
“If you do not take genetics into account, it would seem an exceptionally rare scenario to have four natural deaths in a family. Actually, it isn’t.”
Each of the children was found to have a genetic mutation that would have given them an irregular heartbeat, which can cause sudden cardiac death.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens from here, but it sure is incredibly interesting how this case has developed over time.