We all know how hard it can be to be a single mother trying to provide for your family. You’d do just about anything to make sure your kids get everything they need. But the following two murderous mothers took it to the next level when it came to earning their dollars. While nothing can justify the horrendous acts they committed, the personal context of each mother adds complex dimensions to her motivation to murder.
Jean Lee (1919-1951)
Jean was a single mother who turned to prostitution to make ends meet. She formed an association with two criminals, Robert Clayton and Norman Andrews, and lived a life in which she was frequently in trouble with the law. The trio worked together to fleece Lee’s paying customers of money Clayton would often disrupt Lee’s ‘moneymaking’ and play the part of the outraged husband, demanding ‘hush money’ from their victim. Sometimes Clayton and Andrews would burgle the victim’s premises while Lee kept them busy.
In 1949, after a tryst with a 73-year-old bookmaker, Lee intended to his pockets while he slept. However, when the bookmaker awoke and caught her in the act, she knocked him out with a bottle, before calling upon the help of her associates. Together they bashed, tortured and then eventually strangled him.
Frances Knorr (1868-1894)
Otherwise known as another ‘Baby Farming Murdress’. In the late 19th century, ‘baby farming‘ was the childcare solution for mothers bearing children out of wedlock, or into impossible circumstances during the depression. Generally, the idea was that mothers would make a down payment and then pay monthly fees in order to have visiting access to their children. However, it was common that the child minders would go AWOL after the initial payment was made, likely selling the children in their care to childless couples.
Knorr used baby farming as a means of making money to support herself and daughter when her husband was imprisoned. Through frequently changing her name and place of residence, Knorr was able to operate as a child minder for some time. Whilst she did return some children to their mothers, she strangled the children she was unable to sell or place elsewhere, and buried them in her garden. The body of a baby girl in the backyard of Knorr’s former abode was discovered by the new tenant and the police discovered a second baby’s body when they further excavated the yard.
At the age of 23, Knorr was executed for the murders of these two babies. She was a mother of two children of her own.