Germans would have called her a “professional murderess” (Kindermorderin). In Russia, France, and other parts of Europe she was an “angel-maker” (faiseuses d’anges). Marianna Skublińska, like others in the history of crime, was paid by parents to kill unwanted infants. She was quite successful.
Little is known about Marianna Skublińska of Warsaw, Poland except the limited information gleaned from old newspapers. She was in the baby farming business, purchasing, stealing, or taking babies away to sell them to the highest bidders. Baby farmers also took care of infants until their parents could take them. In the late 1800s she left the baby farming business and began her work as an “angel-maker.” She moved into a home with her sister. Both Marianna and her sister had two grown daughters, and the four of them set out to make money.
For a fee, the women would dispose of babies unwanted by the parent(s). The cost was fifteen rubles for letting the baby die within a few weeks; for twenty rubles the baby would die within 48 hours.
Marianna had a system. She paid her son-in-law to forge doctors’ certificates citing “death from natural causes.” She worked with a carpenter to store the baby corpses until enough bodies accumulated to justify the finances of burial. Sometimes the carpenter would hack up the bodies to stuff into custom-made coffins. Marianna paid a mentally ill boy to bury the coffins.
Marianna and her family kept hogs, and she bragged to neighbors, “I have the fattest pigs in the district!” She would explain she fed the pigs a special diet to make them grow.
Local police knew Marianna operated a “baby farm,” allegedly caring for infants until their parents could take them, and they paid a visit to the house in 1890. Marianna had been living there four months with the other three women and a boy who would later be called “a half idiot” in the courts. The officers discovered several babies in one crib and made Marianna promise she would stop taking in children until after a Hearing.
But two nights before the Hearing would take place; Marianna Skublińska set fire to the house in the hopes of collecting insurance money. As she mingled in the crowd to watch the fire brigade extinguish the blaze, she also watched the fire fighter who discovered the infant’s body under one of the floors. Then three child’s corpses were found. Digging through the rubble they discovered eight corpses under the floor in a separate room. Tearing down a wall and some furniture revealed six more tiny bodies. Close examination revealed the skulls were fractured and smashed. When they were done, 50 infant corpses were counted and Marianna Skublińska, her sister, and their children were herded off to jail.
Horrifying facts were exposed during the May 1890 trial. As she had bragged, Marianna Skublińska’s hogs were on a special diet: if burial could not be justified or if time was an issue, dead babies had been tossed into the trough for pig food. She was responsible for the death of at least 75 babies. Not one baby entrusted to her care ever left the house alive.
The evidence continued to pile up against Marianna Skublińska. She was not convicted of murder, but was given a sentence of three years in prison.