Megan almost threw this whole story out, but apparently decided, everybody needs to hear the awful story of, Marie Noe. Hanna picked the story, so if you're mad, yell at her! Marie Noe definitely was not the best mom in the world, but still manages to have a whopping total amount of 10 kids, (TW, child deaths are unfortunately a big part of this story). So, grab your kitties to cuddle and try to pretend, Hanna, isn't such a creep!
Leave a review: RateThisPodcast.com/coolaid
Marie Noe was born August 23rd, 1928 in Kensington Philadelphia to Ella and James Lyddy. Marie was born into a home with a troubled marriage. She contracted Scarlet Fever at age 5, which was later discovered to have caused her learning difficulties. Marie ended up dropping out of school as a young girl to work and help care for a niece who was born to one of her older sisters who had been raped by a 40-year old man who was later convicted for the attack. Marie was only 12 years old when she was caring for her niece and raised her as a sister. Marie was required to give every dollar she made to her mother who was unloving, unsympathetic and violent and would beat Marie with a whip. When Marie was 14, one of her siblings went to a hospital for psychiatric treatment for post traumatic stress disorder.
Marie and Arthur Noe married and had their first child in 1948. She gave birth to ten children between 1948 and 1968 and all of them mysteriously died within months of being born. Police and medical facilities said that all children passed away from natural causes such as crib death or SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome).
Baby one: Richard Allen was born March 7th 1949 at Temple University Hospital. He was seven pounds, 11 ounces and was discharged from the hospital 5 days later with slight jaundice, a rash, and abrasions on both knees from the delivery. The baby didn’t gain weight quickly and Marie was so distraught when he vomited that she brought him to St. Christopher’s Hospital for children where he was briefly admitted for colic. One month after the birth, the child’s father, Arthur, found him dead after he came home from working the night shift. He was last seen alive by Marie who was in her room asleep. There are two different reports about where the baby’s body was actually discovered. One report, says the baby was in a bassinet at the end of the bed. Another report says the baby was in a drawer that the couple used as a crib. Arthur scooped the baby up and ran to a neighbor’s who drove them to the hospital where the infant was pronounced dead on arrival. The cause of death was congestive heart failure due to acute endocarditis which is an infection and inflammation of the heart valves and the inner lining of the heart chambers. This occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream and settles into the heart. This condition is very rare in children and there was no autopsy performed.
Baby Two: Elizabeth Mary was born September 8th, 1950 and was seven pounds, 10 ounces. Marie had been hospitalized four times during the last trimester of this pregnancy for false labor. When Elizabeth was 5 months old, she had a slight cold and was discovered by Marie in her crib, vomiting milk mixed with blood. Marie told the police dispatcher that she had brought the baby downstairs and given her a bottle and she saw the blood, called police and woke up her husband. The baby was brought to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. The cause of death was bronchial pneumonia and this was determined without any internal examination.
Baby Three: Jacqueline was born April 23rd, 1952 and was seven pounds, 2.5 ounces. Twenty-one days after her birth, Marie discovered her vomiting and turning blue. She was brought to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. Her death was due to vomit in the windpipe. There are claims that an autopsy was performed, but the notes are missing.
Baby Four: Arthur Jr. was born April 23rd, 1955 and was seven pounds, 11.5 ounces. Twelve days later, the baby was found by Marie and he was having trouble breathing. He was rushed to the hospital and they said nothing was wrong and the baby was discharged. The next day, Marie found the baby not breathing and called police. The baby was brought to the hospital and was dead on arrival. The cause of death was bronchial pneumonia.
Baby Five: Constance was born February 24th, 1958 and was seven pounds, 8 ounces. The baby was born with pink eye, but this cleared up quickly and there were no other issues. One physician later recalled an interesting conversation with Marie in the maternity ward. He informed her that he would be caring for her baby and she reportedly said, “What’s the use? She’s going to die just like all the others.” On March 19th, Marie called her family doctor and said the baby was having trouble breathing. The doctor made a house call and had the baby brought to the hospital. The doctor believed the baby just had a cold, but wondered if there was something lacking in the baby’s blood. After three days of tests, the baby was discharged. Two days later, Arthur was at St. Hugh’s Catholic Church so his marriage, or elopement, could be properly sanctified and his one-month-old daughter could be baptized. When he got home, he found his baby lifeless in her crib. Arthur pressed on the baby’s abdomen to resuscitate and milk curds came out of the nose and mouth. The baby was brought to the hospital and was dead on arrival. Since the parents had already lost four other children, an investigation started. They brought in an examiner that specializes in child autopsies and she believed that the vomit wasn’t the cause of death, but more likely a result of death.
Police began conducting interviews to gather information about Arthur and Marie. They learned that Arthur had a history of ulcers and was chronically underweight, weighing less than 100 pounds and was classified 4F by the military, meaning, not acceptable for service in the armed forces. When it comes to Marie, the police were told that she was very slow at answering questions and was very needy. She often called upon her husband to help her. She had told people where she was born, but couldn’t seem to remember when or where and was very vague about her childhood. The investigation was concluded and the baby’s death was ruled as undetermined, presumed natural. Marie was soon pregnant again.
Baby Six: Letitia was delivered stillborn at 39 weeks due to knotted cord on August 24th, 1959. When the umbilical cord gets knotted or squeezed, it cuts off the oxygen to the fetus.
Baby Seven: Mary Lee was born June 19th, 1962 at St. and was six pounds, 8 ounces. The baby was delivered at 36 weeks by cesarean section and Marie had severe vascular collapse and anemia. Essentially, this means that her body went into shock from losing large amounts of blood and it decreases blood flow to the heart. The baby ended up staying in the hospital for a full month before being discharged. Marie began calling the family physician four to five times every day, asking for advice and complaining that the baby was getting on her nerves and she couldn’t take the constant crying. On January 4th, 1963, Marie put the baby down for a nap and later found her gasping for breath and turning blue. The baby was brought to the hospital and was dead on arrival. The family physician later said, she called him and with no emotion said, “Mary Lee is dead”.
Marie and Arthur were brought in for an interrogation and an extensive autopsy was done. They were extremely worried because Marie was three months pregnant at this time. Investigators were not as concerned about Marie because they thought she was a docile, tranquil lady and not intellectually gifted. Arthur was the one they were now focused on and they said he was feisty, troublesome and more than likely the instigator of any evil that went down. They arranged for a grant that would allow St. Christopher’s to offer free prenatal and postnatal care, delivery and hospitalization if the couple allowed their baby to be studied genetically and monitored. On the advice of the family doctor, the couple refused this offer. The doctor said, the high-profile physicians wouldn’t do anything he couldn’t and would likely take the child away from them. The family doctor wanted to be part of the deal as lead investigator and when he was told no, he advised the family not to take the deal. In April, the official cause of death for Mary Lee was ruled as undetermined.
Baby Eight: In late June, Marie went into premature labor at 38 weeks. Theresa was born at six pounds by cesarean section. The baby died in the hospital 6 hours and 39 minutes later. While waiting for the autopsy to be completed on baby Theresa, a story came out in Life magazine. Arthur and Marie had been interviewed after Mary Lee died and it was finally published July 12th, 1963. In the article, the didn’t use the couple’s real names and referred to them as Andrew and Martha Moore. At this time, the case was receiving a lot of local media attention and their true identities were quite obvious. Theresa’s autopsy was finally released and the cause of death was a blood disorder which hadn’t been found in the other children.
Baby Nine: Catherine Ellen was born December 3rd by cesarean section at seven pounds, seven ounces. Cathy was in the hospital for three months even though she was healthy. The doctors gave her every diagnostic test possible and hospital staff kept a close watch on the parents. Baby Cathy was described as happy and had no problems of any kind during her hospital stay. Hospital staff noticed that Arthur was much more affectionate towards Cathy during the visits than Marie was. Marie was detached and would say things that she thought others expected her to say. She seemed to have an inability to establish a maternal rapport with her child. When nurses allowed Marie to feed her baby, she brought the food back to them and claimed she couldn’t get her to eat much. The nurses would feed Cathy and she would consume all of her food without an issue. On one occasion, Marie was attempting to feed Cathy and a nurse overheard her say, “You better take this or I’ll kill you!” Cathy was discharged in the early spring and the family physician had hypnotized Marie and gave her suggestion to give her confidence and reduce her anxiety. This seemed to work for awhile and they even took the baby to the World’s Fair in New York and they started a photo album. She wrote in a journal each day and noted how many days old Cathy was. Marie began calling the family physician repeatedly and on August 31st, she discovered Cathy in her crib, choking on a dry-cleaning bag. She said the baby pulled the bag off one of Arthur’s suits that was hanging in a nearby closet. The family physician recalled yelling at Marie, “Now, how could an eight-month-old baby get a hold of a large sheet of plastic off of a suit hanging in a closet?” Marie said she didn’t know, but it was fortunate that she found her in time. The physician advised that they take the child to the hospital immediately.
Cathy survived, but was kept in the hospital for five wees just in case. During this time, it was again noted that Marie had a tough time feeding her daughter and Arthur was the more affectionate parent. Six weeks after Cathy was sent home, she went limp in her mother’s arms. She was revived with oxygen at the hospital and they kept her for three weeks. Cathy was discharged and week and half later, she was brought back to the hospital. Marie called it “a spell”. The hospital staff and family physician were beginning to notice that Cathy would be hysterically crying each time she was brought to the hospital and seemed scared when anyone went near her. It would take a few days to calm her down and stop fearing everyone. Cathy was discharged three weeks later and her parents purchased an inexpensive oxygen delivery system. Arthur put up a screen door on Cathy’s room so they could check in on her whenever they wanted. There was also a walkie-talkie next to the crib with the TALK button taped down so they could always listen to her. Arthur went out for a beer one night and Marie found the baby having a slight seizure and gave her oxygen. Two weeks later, Marie found Cathy napping on her stomach and turning blue. She called the family physician who made a house call. He couldn’t find anything wrong, but prescribed a liquid version of an antiseizure medicine. On February 25th, 1966, Marie found Cathy in her playpen, unconscious. Cathy was brought to the hospital and was dead on arrival. Her death was ruled as undetermined.
Another investigation began and a confidential source told authorities that the couple was planning to adopt a baby. They needed to quietly alert adoption authorities about the couple. Investigators also found that Marie had once reported that she was raped and there was a 1954 Inquirer police roundup story that included information about an attack on Marie. It said she had fainted after walking into her home and was she was surprised by a red-haired burglar who was hiding in her bedroom closet. When she woke up, she was gagged with her husband’s necktie and this is how her husband discovered her when he arrived home later and $15 was missing from her purse. During her hospital examination, there was no physical trauma consistent with rape or strangulation. Investigators also found a report from 1949 where Marie claimed she was raped weeks before her first child was born. She said that one night, just before midnight a man snuck into Arthur’s parent’s house which is where the couple lived at the time. The intruder attacked her while she was sleeping on the living room couch. Her father-in-law slept upstairs and never heard anything, even though Marie claimed she bit the attacker’s ear during the attack. One of Marie’s siblings told investigators that when Marie was a teenager, she claimed she was raped by a man in the Coast Guard.
The family physician was interviewed by investigators and said Marie was an unstable schizophrenic personality who quite possibly is psychotic. He said she loves attention and it may have made her feel like a celebrity. Investigators located a record where several neighbors and family members talked about the time Marie went blind. Twelve days after her first baby died, Marie claimed she went completely blind and couldn’t see the T.V. The doctors confirmed she was blind and thought this was triggered by the baby’s death. They recommended treatment with an interview. Marie said the baby’s death was unavoidable and she wanted another baby. Arthur told her he wouldn’t permit another child and this is the day she went blind. She felt like their marriage was suffering now and sex was prohibited by Arthur. Since her baby died, she felt like her husband was a stranger and she wanted to leave him. The interview seemed to have restored Marie’s sight and she was discharged the next day. She didn’t reveal this to the doctors, but apparently, Marie had been experiencing temporary blindness for years. Ever since age 14, she would briefly go blind once a month before her period.
The investigators did some more digging and found out that Arthur and Marie had life insurance policies on six of their children. The first few were only for $100, but babies number four through seven were insured for $1k. The insurance company actually rejected the application for the $1k policy on Cathy, but Arthur was able to use his political connections to get another company to write a policy for $1500. Cathy died three months after the policy was issued and the company refused to pay the claim. The application didn’t mention anything about the previous children that had died. The salesman also claimed to see Cathy in the house when the application was filed, but records show that was impossible because Cathy was in the hospital at the time. It seemed that they had false information on the application. It was also discovered that many pregnant women offered their children to Arthur and Marie after hearing about their story. The couple refused the offers and said they preferred to use the local Catholic Children’s Bureau. The couple attended a group meeting at the Bureau for prospective parents. Arthur asked during the meeting if you can insure an adopted child. One of the nuns that was there, Sister Marie told the investigator that no one has ever brought something like that up before.
Baby Ten: Arthur and Marie were upset with how long the process was taking for adopting a child. They withdrew the application as Marie was pregnant. Joseph was born July 28th, 1967 and was eight pounds, five ounces, delivered by cesarean section. There were complications when Marie’s uterine wall ruptured and they had to perform an emergency hysterectomy. The baby was in the hospital for two months and the parents only visited twice. A month after the baby was discharged, the family physician got a call from the hospital because the baby had been brought in. Marie said she was feeding the baby and something must have gone down the wrong way and the baby began choking and turning blue. The baby was hospitalized for nineteen days, but the baby was fine. Chest and head x-rays were all normal. It was noted that Marie only visited the baby one time, but she was there to discuss a bill with the administrator. Arthur didn’t visit at all. Five weeks after the baby was released from the hospital, the baby was rushed to the emergency room. Marie told the police that the family cat laid across the baby’s face and she found the baby turning blue. The doctor’s noted that it was possible attempted suffocation. Four days later, it was Christmas day and the family celebrated. Eight days after Christmas, the baby was rushed to the hospital and was dead on arrival.
Police showed up to interview the couple. Marie said, “I have nothing to hide and I will tell you everything I can possibly remember.” She explained that the cat was trying to get something from the playpen and scratched her baby on the head. There was no mention of a cat scratch at the hospital. She also stated that the baby had a cold the week before and went to the family physician with a fever. She said the baby was cranky and teething and they used Orajel to help ease the pain. On the day of the baby’s death, she was downstairs and heard the crib rattle. When she entered the room, the baby was gasping for breath and turning blue so she immediately started mouth to mouth resuscitation and called the police.
Three days after the baby’s death, an anonymous caller contacted the police and said she knew Arthur and Marie for 27 years and she was now convinced that Marie was doing something to the babies. The woman said Marie and Art met in a small private club in the neighborhood. Marie had a reputation for being boy crazy and Art was overwhelmed by all the criticism their relationship got. His mom never liked Marie and was very outspoken about her feelings and complained to neighbors that Marie wasn’t a proper mom. The caller also recalled helping Marie with her children and they all appeared healthy. She said that Art complained that his wife seemed to care about nothing, but having sex and he was tired of trying to satisfy her. Marie would often claim that she was receiving obscene calls from other men and would describe them in graphic detail. The neighbors all saw this as Marie trying to get attention. The caller said that over the years, the couple had dogs, cats, fish, turtles and parakeets that all died mysteriously.
There was a story that back in 1954, there was a christening party for a neighborhood child and the neighbors agreed beforehand that no one would leave the baby unattended. People at the part were drinking and there was a period of time where the baby was forgotten. Someone yelled, the baby! Everyone ran upstairs and found Marie bending over a bassinet with her hands near the baby’s throat. Someone yelled her name and they saw her straighten up fast and said she was just straightening the baby’s covers.
During the investigation, the medical examiner kept telling the press that there wasn’t anything suspicious about the ten dead babies and there was no evidence indicating an unnatural death. Marie and Art took polygraph tests and passed so they believed the suspicion was over. Neither of them, nor the public, knew that a medical examiner Joseph Spelman felt that there was something suspicious. Buried in the autopsy files of were two identical letters that made his opinions clear. One, was addressed tot the city office overseeing adoptions, foster home placement and child protection services. The other was for the state agency. The letter read:
You undoubtedly have read about the death of the tenth child in the Noe family. This office has actively investigated several of these deaths. We have extensive files on the background of this family. We are not willing to declare with certainty that these children died natural deaths. In the event that thought is given to placing children under the care of the Noes, we would be glad to discuss our file and our thoughts in detail.
It’s interesting that he took the time to write and send letters, but still chose to list the cause of death as something that would provoke and investigations such as: undetermined, consistent with suffocation.
Marie finally pled guilty to second-degree murder for killing eight of her ten children and received a sentence of five years of house arrest and twenty years of probation. She took a pea deal to obtain her lenient sentence and agreed to psychiatric studies to help understand why mothers kill their children. In 2001, psychiatrists filed with the court that Marie was suffering from mixed-personality disorder. This is a type of personality disorder that doesn’t necessarily fall into the ten recognized personality disorders, but it’s possible to have traits or symptoms from more than one personality disorder at the same time. This is essentially a catch all category for people with symptoms of several disorders.
What Happened to Marie Noe, the Philadelphia Mother Who Murdered Eight of Her babies?
Mother Charged with Smothering her eight children