Born: September 9, 1936
Died: April 13, 1961
Active: 1957 to 1960
Location: Czech Republic
Method of Disposal: Crushing/beating
- Two newborn children in Susice District Hospital maternity ward
Some women take to children easily. They have a knack for knowing how to hold a baby, how to soothe a newborn who is fretting, and generally make the whole process of child rearing look like the most natural thing in the world for a woman to do.
Marie Fikáčková was not one of those women.
Marie was born into a poor German family in September 1936. When the Second World War ended in 1945, a number of families were reported for their German nationality, Marie’s family among then. Marie was never close to her father, who was an alcoholic. He would often talk of his hatred of the Czechs. It is unknown whether Marie was affected by his intolerance of this particular nationality. However, it’s unlikely that his ideals had a positive effect on the woman would later be responsible for helping to bring Czech babies into the world.
Marie graduated from a medical school in Klatovy in 1955, gaining good results. She began her nursing career in a hospital laundry. She then joined the National Institute of Health in 1957, before being transferred to the Susice District Hospital, in the Obstetrics department. She quickly endeared herself to her fellow staff members, and was soon being considered for the position of Head Nurse.
There was just one problem. She didn’t like the sound of babies crying. It ruined her concentration. Newborn babies seemed to cry all the time. Marie first noticed her lack of patience soon after being sent to work in the delivery ward. She would grit her teeth and try to block out the noise, but it was no use. The noise always broke through.
Despite the annoyance, Marie really loved working in obstetrics. She wasn’t about to let a simple issue of her inability to stand being in a room with a crying child for longer than a few minutes stop her from becoming the best maternity ward nurse she could be.
If Marie hadn’t worked out a sensible solution to the problem, she might very well have given up on her dream. But work out a solution she did. She found that by applying enormous amounts of pressure to the skull with a well-placed thumb , the child quickly stopped crying. It worked the first time she tried it on 23 February 1960. Worked so well that later on that same day, when another newborn baby started crying, she used the same technique again. And it worked again.
Marie was ecstatic. It was a whole revolution in child-quieting. One quick application of ‘pressure point therapy’ and the child never cried again.
Marie’s actions might have gone unnoticed, with two babies buried and two sets of parents grieving over the senseless accidental deaths of their respective children. It was accepted that children would die on occasion from this reason or that. It was the time of Polio; many a child death was being attributed to this disease (maybe to the detriment of all other conclusions). The medical fraternity also would explain away some deaths to carelessness in the delivery room. Generally, there was no specialised department of the hospital to investigate the death of a child.
In fact, it was only due to some hard-to-explain anomalies surrounding the deaths of the babies on that day that the possibility of murder was even considered. During an autopsy on the babies, it was found that both children had suffered multiple broken bones in their arms along with the head trauma which had led to their deaths. The hospital staff considered this to be highly irregular since newborn babies generally didn’t suffer such injuries without some immediate explanation. Authorities were contacted to conduct interviews on all the staff involved in the delivery of the children. Marie was among those with whom they wished to speak.
Marie was interviewed four days after the suspicious deaths. She finally admitting to causing the deaths of the children after the interview evolved into a six-hour interrogation.
Despite Marie confessing to at least ten more injurious attacks against other children (some of whom survived, according to Marie), she was arrested and charged only with the two murders upon which there was sufficient evidence.
The hospital had the authorities keep quiet about Marie’s assertion that her murderous actions extended further than the two deaths for which she was charged. After all, no hospital wants to be linked to what would have be considered to be one of the Czech Republic’s more prolific multiple murderers, if Marie was to be believed.
Inevitably, as is usually the case when insufficient details are given to the public, rumours spread throughout Czechoslovakia that she was responsible for perpetrating up to a dozen similar attacks on children. There was also speculation about the true nature of the injuries sustained, including injections into the eyes and heads.
At her trial for the two murders, a number of people testified to her volatile nature. Her brother was mentally handicapped, and she terrorised him on a regular basis. Neighbours also reported that she had a violent streak. On her own admission, Marie admitted that after causing the death of one child, she then turned her mind to such important tasks as inspecting and folding nappies.
After being sentenced to death on 6 October 1960, Marie twice appealed against her sentence. She was ultimately unsuccessful and she was executed on 13 April 1961.
Her motives were never fully explained. However, it is believed she blamed her inability to control her murderous impulses on the onset and duration of her menstrual cycle. Psychiatrists deemed her to be sane and fit to stand trial because, really, to do otherwise would be to set a dangerous precedent. Women would be blaming the waxing of the moon if the madness was allowed to continue.