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tv   Cradle to Grave  MSNBC  August 7, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT

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>> 911 emergency. >> has the jury reached a verdict? >> we the jury find the defendant -- they were called the nation's most bereaved parents. >> they had lost ten children. it was a very mysterious case. >> one after another. marie noe brought her children into the emergency room in the same condition. >> she stopped breathing. that was basically the description. she would find her blue. she would find her not breathing. >> doctors were baffled by what, or who, was killing these
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babies. >> we had developed quite a bit of concern of why they were dying and whether or not there was some sort of criminal activity. >> without hard evidence the case went cold for 30 years. >> the only way that anything happens here is if she confesses, and that will never happen. >> could marie noe have killed her own children? in this hour, "from cradle to grave." america just after world war ii. the baby boom was in full swing. the economy was looking up. and a young philadelphia couple decided to start a family. >> this was 1949. i think that the assumption for everybody was that if you got married, you had a child. >> but having kids, rather, raising them, didn't seem to be in the cards for arthur and marie noe. the couple lost ten children over a period of 19 years. they became nationally known in
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the 1960s after two high profile magazines told their tragic story. steven fried is an investigative journalist who interviewed the noes over a period of several months in 1998 for an article in "philadelphia" magazine. that article stirred up emotions and led to the reopening of a 30-year-old cold case. >> i read about this case in a book called "the death of innocence." one of the cases that it mentioned was a case that was referred to as the moore case by the pseudonym that "life" magazine had given to this family, arthur and marie noe when they wrote about their case in 1963. and what the book reported in passing was that there had always been suspicions about the case and the people in the medical examiner's office had felt they might be murders and they were not able to pursue the case. >> marie noe, born marie liddy, grew up in the north philadelphia neighborhood of brewery town where she had a rough childhood. in an interview with stephen fried marie said her mother beat
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her and she described her as unloving, unsympathetic, and sometimes violent. >> she was in and out of foster homes. it was certainly implied that she had had an abusive childhood in many ways. she had been taken away from the house to be in an orphanage. the father was gone and it was a very difficult time. >> marie claims she had mental difficulties since taking medicine for a childhood bout with scarlet fever. >> she said "there was something wrong with my noodle." that was her description. >> marie never went to high school. >> she ended up staying home from school to help take care of the family. she had a lot of problems in terms of educational things. >> arthur noe and marie grew up in the same philadelphia neighborhood and met at a local social club. the couple eloped just months after their first date. >> this was a young working class couple. marie and arthur noe were, you know, they were young, they were in love.
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>> the noes' first baby, richard allen was born in 1949 when marie was 20. one month later, arthur, a factory worker, returned to this house to find the baby dead in his crib. >> i don't think that much is known about what happened to that child. the child really only lived for a few weeks. cause of death is listed as congestive heart failure. we later found out in going back over the material, a lot of the causes of death given to children in the '40s and '50s were really more to make the parents feel better than they were accurate diagnoses. >> marie and arthur had a daughter, elizabeth, a year and a half after richard allan died. when baby elizabeth was 5 months old marie says she found her sick in the crib and brought her to the hospital. she was dead on arrival. an autopsy determined the cause of death to be bronchopneumonia.
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jacqueline, the noes third child, was born april 23rd, 1952. little is known about her. she survived for only three weeks. and according to stephen fried, most of her medical records are missing. by 1952, the noes had lost three infant children. but neither doctors nor the medical examiner's office spoke publicly about any suspicions about marie noe. stephen fried says after the death of her third child marie worried about getting pregnant again. >> she was afraid, in her words, of another ungodly catastrophe. her description to me, a very powerful one, was that she had decided after the baby died, that she should have her tubes tied. fried said noe spoke to her doctor about a hysterectomy. but she spoke to her priest, too. >> she went to see her local priest and told her of her intentions and he told her that this would be a mortal sin. and that she could not do this.
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and so she didn't. >> three years later, in 1955, the noes' fourth child, arthur jr., was born. >> this child comes out of a very mysterious set of events. mrs. noe was reported being attacked exactly nine months before this child was born. the emergency room report did not show any signs of any kind of sexual violence, but the bottom line is that exactly nine months from that day, her fourth child was born. >> just 12 days after he was born, marie took arthur jr. to the hospital, saying he had difficulty breathing. the baby was examined and discharged, but the very next day, marie said she found arthur jr. not breathing at all. the cause of death was listed as bronchopneumonia. >> i don't think that anybody puts too much stock in the autopsy findings. they are basically considered, no one knows, it is too bad. i'm sorry.
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>> the noes had four children and not one lived to see the first birthday. arthur and marie's fifth child, constance, was born in february of 1958. >> mrs. noe talked about her fear with each of the children. and, in fact, after constance was born, there's a mention in one of the files of a doctor coming in and saying to her, i'm going to be your new pediatrician. and i'm looking forward to taking care of your kids. she said something like, well, why bother, they all die anyway. >> those words proved prophetic. constance noe lived just one month before she was found dead in her crib by her father. for the first time, the death was referred to as a crib death. today known as sudden infant death syndrome, or sids. sids is a cause of death given when doctors fail to find anything physically wrong with the baby.
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constance's death piqued the interest of police in the medical examiner's office. after five babies born to the same young parents died under mysterious circumstances, they started asking questions. >> the police looked into this. they didn't look into it for very long and they didn't decide there was anything to do about it. but the problem with prosecuting any kind of sids cases is that there are certain ways people kill children that don't leave a sign. if you suffocate a very young child with a pillow, unless you do it so hard you cause bruising, the child will not have any sign of being killed. so they were just learning that, too. but the cause of death was appropriate. they were concerned. but they didn't know what to do. it was considered an odd case. >> constance was the first noe baby the doctor performed an autopsy on. the doctor said she found no apparent cause of death.
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but instead of ruling it crib death, or sids, she said the cause was undetermined. >> no cause of death is apparent in the conduct of the autopsy. it was just nothing. which, of course, is quite unusual. >> the first person i called was molly depena. she is a very famous, continues to be a very famous pediatric pathologist. she had done a number of the original autopsies when she lived in philadelphia in the '50s and '60s and she'd also been the first person to ever let out there had been suspicions about the noes way back when. she recalled the medical examiner at the time, dr. joseph spellman, who is dead, that he believed that the noes had been responsible for their children's deaths. dr. de pena said that the diagnosis of crib death just wasn't possible in several children from the same family.
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>> you don't get two and three cases in a family. it's not part of the nature of that phenomenon. with our present knowledge now. the medical examiner would not call a second one in a family a sids. >> richard firstman co-wrote "death of innocence," the book that started stephen fried's quest. >> it doesn't run in families. there are no studies suggesting that it is genetic. when you put all the factors together and you have two, and certainly three and four in a family, you need to look very hard at the possibility of homicide. >> coming up, is it sids or is it murder? >> lots of people were going, what is going on here? [ male announcer ] imagine all of your missed opportunities in one place. ♪ the race of your life you never ran. the trip around the world you never took. the best-selling novel you never wrote. but there's one opportunity that's too good to miss.
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there it is. [ man ] so i used mine to get a whole new perspective. ♪ [ male announcer ] the new citi thankyou premier card gives you more ways to earn points. what's your story? citi can help you write it. by 1958, philadelphia factory worker arthur noe and his wife, homemaker marie, had lost five children, attributed
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to various conditions. ranging from bronchopneumonia to congestive heart failure. yet the couple, apparently desperate to start a family, had another child. letitia. the result was the same. the child died. but this time, there was no question about what happened. >> they knew that it was going to be a stillbirth. mrs. noe described the situation where the doctors knew that the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck, the baby was dead and they believed that medically, she should carry to term. >> after the stillbirth, three years passed before mary lee, the noes' seventh baby, was born in 1962. marie reported having many problems with mary lee and would call her doctor four or five times a day, complaining that the baby was crying. >> the baby wouldn't eat for her. and he considered this to be really off the scale. he just considered her to be a highly nervous, excitable woman. >> six months after mary lee was born, marie reported finding her gasping for breath and turning
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blue. she called the rescue squad but the baby could not be saved. >> everybody was on the alert when this case came in. >> when the baby was brought in doa, doctors were very concerned. one, because this was now of seven children, six of them had died under mysterious circumstances. >> the late dr. halbert fillinger who was the assistant medical examiner in philadelphia during this time, performed the autopsy. >> we had all pretty well developed quite a bit of concern why they were dying and whether or not there was some sort of criminal activity. >> despite their growing suspicion, the doctors in the medical examiner's office couldn't find any evidence of foul play. no bruises on the bodies, no apparent trauma. police did question marie noe after the death of her seventh child. but she was quickly released. >> the police in the 25th precinct came to the noes' home and did a very cursory
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interrogation of them and were satisfied that there was nothing obviously wrong here. that they were going to move forward with an investigation. police looked for very visible physical evidence. they didn't find any. they looked for poisoning. they looked all over the house to see if there was any environmental problems. >> but police found no reason to go any further with an investigation. >> they looked very carefully to see if the autopsy would give them any tip-off that there was a reason to move forward with the case. they interrogated the noes. they didn't come up with anything that they thought was a reason to move forward. >> but doctors in the medical examiner's office felt they did have a reason to continue to investigate. when 6-month-old mary lee died, marie noe was already pregnant with her eighth child. so the people in the medical examiner's office came upon a plan. >> the solution that they came up with was dr. depena and dr. halbert fillinger who had recently joined the medical examiner's staff as an assistant
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medical examiner, got a grant. the grant was that they could offer the noes free medical care in order to allow them to monitor mrs. noe's pregnancy and her childbirth and the child's life after the child was born. >> but the noes rejected the offer. >> the noes were told by their doctor, and they told this to me, that they shouldn't get involved with this study because these big highfalutin doctors in the medical examiner's office were going to take their baby away from them. >> in 1963, theresa, the eighth child was born. she died after only six hours from a blood abnormality. dr. salvatore cuciatta, who delivered theresa, said he also recommended marie noe get additional care and psychiatric treatment beyond what she was getting from her primary care physician, dr. gangemi. but this offer was also rejected. >> it was a pattern in those days that the family doctor would refer their maternity
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cases to the specialists, including psychiatric treatment. >> but dr. gangemi would later come to regret his decision not to refer marie for psychiatric treatment. >> ironically, dr. gangemi would later privately be coming to the medical examiner's office saying i want you to help me do something about these people. and i don't know what to do. >> it was during this period that "life" magazine wrote an article about the noes and their terrible string of tragedies. the magazine used a pseudonym for the couple. it was also around this time that president kennedy and first lady jackie kennedy lost a newborn baby. not to crib death. but it brought the issue of infant death to the forefront. all of this fueled an atmosphere of sympathy that now surrounded the noes and caused investigators to think harder about their growing suspicions of foul play. >> i'm sure they were very scared about the idea, what if they were wrong? you know.
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what if they took the saddest woman in the world who had done nothing wrong to her kids and lost eight kids and made it worse for her? >> coming up, marie noe had lost two children to obvious, natural causes. had the other babies died from natural causes, too? ♪ hallelujah ♪ hallelujah [ baby crying, dog barking ] [ female announcer ] it doesn't have to be thanksgiving to have the perfect thanksgiving sandwich. carving board turkey -- only from oscar mayer. uh-huh. jeff! honey, i can't walk any faster. [ female announcer ] oscar mayer deli fresh turkey comes in a clear pack... [ cellphone beeps ] [ jeff ] ooh. thanks hun! [ female announcer ] ...so the freshness you see is what you taste. ♪ it doesn't get better than this ♪
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eight babies born, eight babies dead before their first birthdays. two of arthur and marie noe's children clearly died of natural causes, and not under suspicious circumstances. what about the other six noe babies? could maria and arthur noes' family have suffered a case of serial sids? the first ever recorded case? if one mother were to lose eight babies today, it seems doctors would surely look into a genetic disorder. or munchausen syndrome by proxy. a disorder which results in a mother harming her children to
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gain attention, usually from doctors and nurses. but during the 1950s and 1960s, little was known about munchausen's or the mysterious crib death, today known as sudden infant death syndrome. which is what doctors said several of the noe babies died from. >> sids is the sudden death of an infant below the age of 1 where a very thorough investigation fails to explain why the death occurred. >> dr. mark feldman is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the university of alabama. >> we have to understand a few things about sudden infant death syndrome. one is that there is typically no warning sign. the first discovery that something is wrong is the death of the child. marie noe, somewhat surprisingly, had a few near death experiences with some of her kids. there aren't serial sids deaths in the family. the saying was that one sids death in a family is sids.
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two is suspicious and three is homicide. >> dr. molly depena, who is a sids expert and performed autopsies on three of the noe children agrees that a serial sids case just isn't possible. >> apparently because it's not a genetic phenomenon, it is a natural, as far as we know, death, they are simply, sudden, unexpected and unexplained deaths. >> if the children weren't dying from sids, then what or who was killing them? on several occasions, marie noe took her babies to the hospital with breathing problems. but the children were released after doctors found nothing wrong with them. dr. feldman believes this kind of behavior could be a symptom of munchausen syndrome by proxy. >> the mother sickens the child under her care so that she is getting the same benefits of the sick role, that is, attention and concern. she's left herself in good
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health but weakened the child's health. >> dr. feldman's main field of study is munchausen's and while he said marie noe's case isn't completely typical of a munchausen by proxy case, it still fits the bill. marie noe got attention each time she brought her babies into the hospital. turning blue and gasping for breath. >> having the child be terribly ill over a period of time was probably a little gratifying for her, but not as gratifying as being a bereaved parent. >> marie noe granted many interviews in the past but declined our request. when contacted, arthur noe said "we're both sick and we just want to live out the last few years peacefully." dr. feldman thinks the noes' previous willingness to speak to reporters about their dead
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children was yet another symptom of munchausen by proxy. >> the mothers present themselves as having black clouds over their shoulders and that's what happened when magazines like "newsweek" and especially "life" magazine covered the noe deaths. it made her famous for a time as the most sympathetic mother in the country. >> dr. howell fillinger, who performed autopsies on some of the noe babies, agrees with dr. feldman. he points out there was really no way to diagnose marie at that time. >> in those days, we didn't know much about munchausen syndrome, which this might be a manifestation of. >> coming up, doctors intervene, trying to save a baby's life. >> the baby was kept in the hospital because they were afraid to let the baby go home. [ smooches ]
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here's what's happening. treasury secretary timothy geithner will remain at his post. several republicans had called for his resignation. and new details about the helicopter crash in afghanistan that killed 30 u.s. service members. it is the deadliest attack since the war in afghanistan began in 2001. among the casualties were 22 navy s.e.a.l.s. now ba now back to our program. after nearly two decades of investigation, the philadelphia medical examiner's office was baffled by the unexplained deaths of six of arthur and marie noe's children. one other baby was stillborn and another died hours after birth
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of a blood abnormality. none of the babies lived longer than six months. neither the medical examiner's office nor the police had any hard evidence that the couple had harmed any of their children. and marie noe continued to have babies. catherine, the noes' ninth baby, was born in december of 1964. she lived longer than any of her brothers and sisters. long enough, for example, to have this portrait taken. >> the baby was kept in the hospital because they were afraid to let the baby go home. >> one doctor later told an investigator that he hoped catherine would live until her fingernails grew long enough so she could defend herself. after three months, catherine went home. that's when her problems began. marie noe called her doctor constantly. >> mrs. noe called him sometimes four or five times a day, asking his advice and complaining that the baby "is getting on her nerves and she couldn't take all that crying constantly." >> once a nurse reported she saw her trying to feed the baby saying, "you better take this or
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i'll kill you." marie took catherine to the hospital three times. one time she said she found the baby choking on a dry cleaning bag. >> the thing about the dry cleaning bag story with catherine is that, one, you have to understand that the stories of what had happened to the kids and why they were bringing them to the emergency room. by this time, i think that marie noes' pediatrician had his eyes like permanently rolling. >> she stopped breathing. that was basically the description. she would find her blue. she would find her not breathing. it didn't make any sense for a number of reasons, especially because the story then got changed later on. that the bag wasn't hanging over the crib. this was an event even the doctor couldn't pretend he wasn't suspicious. and he said, how is this possible? either this is ridiculous and this never happened or you left
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the dry cleaning bag hanging over your baby's crib. >> marie's doctor had heard story after story, one more disturbing than the next. >> there was another time when the cat scratched the kid and tried to strangle her or whatever. so it's just all these stories. i'm not saying that none of these stories had any, you know, validity at all because kids get into things. but in this case, what ended up happening is more like they're saying, why did you have a dry cleaning bag near the crib? >> the noes took catherine to the world's fair in new york in 1964. and two vacations at the beach. she was the first of their babies to reach her first birthday. she celebrated it in the hospital with her mother and nurses. three months later, she was dead. the cause of death was undetermined. by this time, doctors at the medical examiner's office were learning more about crib death and questioning whether the serial case was actually
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possible. led by doctors hal fillinger and molly depena, the medical examiner's office launched an investigation. interviewing neighbors, family members and as many doctors as they could find. and what they discovered was disturbing. >> they went to talk to the noes' doctor, dr. gangemi. a physician the noes loved. they had no idea what he was telling the medical examiner in his investigation was of the extreme suspicion of the noes. he described her as being possibly schizophrenic, possibly psychotic. and he really had grave questions about her mental capacities. >> investigators with the medical examiner's office also learned that marie noe claimed to have been raped, at least twice. once when she was pregnant with her first child, and a second time, exactly nine months before the birth of her fourth child. >> she was found by her husband, tied up in his neckties in their closet and claiming that somebody had come, that jumped out of the closet, surprised
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her, tied a necktie around her neck until she passed out. >> after finishing their investigation, the medical examiner's office turned over their findings to police. and it was now up to the department to do their own investigation. but police did not find enough evidence to arrest marie or arthur noe. in 1966, after losing nine babies, the noes decided to adopt. they went through an adoption service at a catholic church and were frustrated when they learned they had to wait up to nine months for a baby. >> the representatives of the adoption in the catholic church were concerned about the noes. they were concerned partly because of insurance. because after one of the meetings they had with prospective adoptive parents, the only question mr. noe asked of the sister was why no one mentioned whether adopted children could be insured, which she found to be a chilling question. in all the years she had been helping with adoptions she never heard anybody ask that question. >> in fact the noes had insured
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some of their other children. an investigator for the medical examiner's office found that at least six of marie and arthur noes' babies had been insured. some for as little as $100. and some for up to $1,000. but soon the noes had no need to adopt. approximately nine months into the process, marie announced she was withdrawing her adoption application. because she was pregnant. the impending birth put the philadelphia medical community on alert, determined to save this next child at all costs. >> when mrs. noe announced she was pregnant, dr. spellman, the medical examiner, was quite concerned. he called what was the beginnings of sort of the child and youth services agency and asked them to monitor the pregnancy. the medical examiner's office was paying rather close attention to this. and if you think about this,
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medical examiners investigate deaths. they're not usually following moms who are about to give birth. >> the noes' tenth child, arthur jr., their second son to be given that name, was born in july of 1967. 18 years after marie noe gave birth to her first child. like catherine before him, arthur was kept in the hospital for observation. doctors and nurses were also observing the noes' behavior during this time and they noted how little the couple visited their newborn baby. >> one nurse said that they came twice during the three months the baby was there. >> without solid evidence against the noes, the authorities couldn't keep little arty in the hospital any longer. three months after he went home, marie noe reported finding her tenth child face-up, gasping for breath. and turning blue. arthur jr. died january 2, 1968. he was just five months old. arty was marie noe's last baby. marie had complications with the delivery, and was given a
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hysterectomy. after ten dead babies over a span of 19 years, it was over. marie could no longer have children. there was another investigation. what police thought would be their last one. marie and arthur noe were given lie detector tests. at the time, they were told that they passed. in january of 1968, police weren't sure where to turn and the case went cold. coming up, police turn up the heat on marie noe. >> kind of slammed a book down on the table and said, "marie, it's time." [ male announcer ] walls can talk. but it's our job to make them say something interesting. so how about this weekend we learn some new tricks of the trade... then break out our doing clothes and get rolling. let's use some paint that helps us get the job done in record time and makes a statement when we're finished. we're lowering the cost of a new favorite color.
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it was the spring of 1998. 30 years after marie noe's tenth baby died, and decades after police first investigated marie and arthur noe. investigative journalist stephen fried had just finished an article on the couple when he received a phone call he'll never forget. dr. hal fillinger, the former assistant philadelphia medical examiner, made the call. >> hal called me one day and he said, "can you keep a secret?" and i was like, "yeah." and he said, "she confessed." and honestly, i fell down on the floor crying. the whole time we had done this investigation while we all agreed that it was an important investigation to do and it would be a really interesting story, everybody always said, the only way that anything happens here is if she confesses, and that will never happen. >> just days before the article was released to the public, the police received an advance copy. and took action.
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>> we released the article to them the minute that it was available. and what i was told was that they took the article, they highlighted it, the parts that they needed for information, and they went and took the noes in for questioning. we weren't told about any of this. it was all happening in secret. >> on the evening of march 25th, 1998, arthur and marie noe were taken to philadelphia police headquarters, separated and questioned. this was the first time, according to police records, the pair was questioned outside their own home. and the first time they were questioned separately. >> they spoke to mr. noe for a short period of time and spoke to mrs. noe for a long period of time. mr. noe was sitting in the area watching tv, not understanding why his wife, they were taking so long with his wife. >> two detectives questioned marie noe for 11 hours. approximately a week before they brought the noes in for
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questioning, police got some new information that could help them secure a confession. after an expert looked at a lie detector test given to the couple in 1968. police learned it had been misread. marie noe did not pass the test as previously thought. and arthur noe's results were inconclusive at best but leaning toward deception. >> the cops described the situation where when mrs. noe started thinking about that she was going to talk to them, she actually put her hand on one of the cop's legs, which the cop thought was a little strange. they didn't quite know what to do about it. but it was part of the dynamic of seeing that she was sort of connecting to them. and i think there was a little bit of good cop, bad cop in that situation. and then she just started telling them. >> almost 50 years after her first baby died, and after
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burying all ten of her children, marie noe confessed to smothering four of her babies. she did not confess to killing all eight babies who died under suspicious circumstances. police say that is because marie had vivid memories of killing four of them. and wasn't sure what happened to the others. >> they sort of got her confession. she wrote it. she signed it. the last thing she said, as they were leaving the room, was "don't tell my husband." so in a way, i think that there was still this idea that she had told them she did this. she had finally confessed but that art wouldn't find out. there was some way to sort of keep it from him but for her to sort of fess up. >> the question now was, what happens with this confession? this was a cold case brought back to life by the work of an investigative journalist, involving a nearly 70-year-old woman. >> there were a lot of issues. the crime itself was so unusual.
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what are you going to do? if you're a prosecutor, what do you want? do you want to send a woman in her 70s who is physically impaired to jail? is that what you're shooting for? >> that's the dilemma the philadelphia district attorney faced. how do you handle a case like this? like any other murder confession, according to d.a. lynne abraham. >> this is not unexplained. this is not undetermined. this is homicide. >> we didn't want to admit to ourselves that women did on occasion kill their own children. >> arthur noe was never considered a suspect in his children's deaths. that's because marie noe admitted, she was always the last one to see each child alive. >> mrs. noe is the focus of our attention. there doesn't appear right now to be any evidence linking mr. noe to the deaths of these children, except that he came home after all of the children had been pronounced dead at the hospital. so right now, there is no evidence against him at all.
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>> on august 5, 1998, district attorney lynne abraham announced charges against marie noe. >> we charge in our affidavit and warrant that mrs. noe has murdered eight of her ten children. during the time between 1949 and 1968. we further allege that mrs. noe murdered her children by use of a pillow or some other soft item, and that the manner of death was homicide because she smothered her children, resulting in them being suffocated. we are the voice of the voiceless. the people who have nobody speaking for them. we always speak for the voiceless dead. they have a right to have an advocate for them. >> in the early hours of that same day, the same philadelphia detectives who took her confession arrived at the noes' home to arrest 69-year-old marie.
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district attorney lynne abraham believed the evidence against marie noe was overwhelming and charged her with eight counts of murder. >> you can say it is medically implausible. it is virtually impossible for eight children to die when they're alone with their mother in her sole custody, and they all died by the same mechanism or means without any disease, without any injuries apparent, without any other explanation. >> marie noe's attorney, david rubenstein, wanted to have the confession thrown out, saying the statement was questionable because marie was interrogated for 11 hours with no attorney present. and he felt she was coerced into signing the confession. the prosecutors disagreed and said even if it was thrown out, they still had enough evidence to prosecute. >> we are certainly satisfied that the quality and the quantity of our evidence would convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
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we are going to produce a wide variety of civilians, police and medical witnesses who will chronicle in detail what happened in these cases, how each case was handled, every time it occurred, and we will present all medical, legal, scientific and civilian evidence to the jury. we will be able to proceed on those bases. >> coming up, marie noe has her day in court. >> the important thing that happened today was the finality. designer lolita healey copyrighted her first cartoon character when she was 12. 20 years later she did the same with hand painted martini glasses. her love my martini collection took off, so she licensed the brand for everything from pajamas to jewelry to towels. for more, watch "your business"
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ten months after marie noe was arrested and charged with eight counts of murder, she faced her day in court. but there would be no trial. marie noe's attorney and prosecutors had struck a deal. marie noe had confessed to police to killing four of her
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children, but in court, marie confessed to smothering eight of her babies. as part of her plea deal. marie told the court, she was ungodly sick. along with investigative journalist stephen fried, many of the investigators working on the case were there, watching the results of their work play out in open court. >> so i sat in the back row and watched this amazing thing. to see marie noe get up in open court and admit that she killed her kids. after all that we had been through for the last year of doing the investigation. >> fried says marie showed a little more emotion in court that day than he'd previously seen. her husband arthur sat in disbelief. >> this guy loves his wife and that's why he cannot fathom the idea that what she is saying can be true. he always says the same thing. do you think i would be with her
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if i thought for one second that she had killed our kids? >> the important thing that happened today was the finality. we have a woman who has admitted that she killed all eight of her children. >> in all, ten children died. two died of natural causes and 30 years after the last baby, artie, was buried, the truth was finally revealed about the others. marie noe would not serve any time in prison. in her plea bargain, marie noe received an unusual sentence of 20 years probation, including five years house arrest and a special condition. that she would be examined by a team of psychiatrists, among them, experts on postpartum depression and munchausen syndrome by proxy. conditions that can cause mothers to harm their own children. >> instead of spending money to house this woman in a prison, the money will be spent to try and find out why she did this. >> that was 1999. according to the d.a.'s office,
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marie noe was evaluated by four psychiatrists. both district attorney lynne abraham and assistant d.a. charles gallagher declined to be interviewed for this program. the d.a.'s office did issue this statement. "marie noe, 79, is, and will remain under court supervised probation until the year 2019. she served five years home confinement. she pled guilty to eight counts of murder. in connection with the deaths of her eight infant children. she has been fully compliant with the court's order to submit herself to evaluations by four different psychiatrists. these reports are confidential, in accordance with the pennsylvania rules of criminal procedure." dr. steven samuel was one of the psychiatrists who examined marie noe. he was told by the judge not to comment on this case, but he did say he evaluated marie for a
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total of some 70 hours. he says the last time he saw her was in 2003. dr. john o'brien, a court-appointed forensic sigh c psychiatrist also examined marie and submitted to the court at least one report. other experts had access to this report, including dr. mark feldman. his main field of study is munchausen's disorder. >> i was able to receive the lot of information from dr. o'brien's report. >> dr. o'brien diagnosed marie noe with a mixed personality disorder. but dr. feldman was hoping to learn more. >> it should have been a comprehensive leave-no-sto leave-no-stone-unturned evaluation. >> dr. feldman responded to dr. o'brien's report with a letter to the judge, william mazzola. >> the court had said that the
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money that would have been spent on her criminal prosecution and the money that would have been spent on her incarceration were then to be diverted to this once in a lifetime, perhaps, scientific study of what a person who may well have been the worst female serial killer in our nation's history. >> dr. feldman strongly believes a range of experts from varying fields needs to examine marie noe before she gets much older. >> i don't think it is ever too late to study her. >> i still think it is a brave idea for a sentence. mrs. noe is still alive, even though there have been, i think, a lot of fumbles on the way to this, ten years later, we're still talking about this case because it fascinates people. >> these murders occurred at a time when there were very few child protective laws on the books. although pennsylvania had a department of public welfare, the first child abuse law in the
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state wasn't passed until 1967. one year before marie noe's last child was born. today there are many laws and agencies protecting the welfare of children. and doctors are required by law to report any suspected cases of child endangerment or abuse. this was a case unlike any philadelphia police or doctors had ever seen. ten babies from the same family died over a period of 19 years. two of natural causes and eight died at the hands of their own mother. >> 30 years ago or 40 years ago, we were all focusing on the poor mother. she had gone through this terrible trauma of losing her child or children. all our attention was focused on her. and today, we're focusing on yes, it is a tragedy for the mother. but how did this child or these
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children really die? in some cases, they are unexplainable. in certain cases, they are sids cases. but now we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that children who die under these kinds of circumstances don't always die of sids. >> arthur and marie noe are still married and living in this philadelphia row house. arthur says both he and his wife are in failing health. marie will remain on probation until 2019 when she'll be 90 years old. if her oldest child, richard, had lived, he'd be 70 years old in 2019 when marie's probation ends. her other children would range in age from 69 to 40 years old. >> you have to do something to protect the kids. and treat the mother. that's what's important. that's how you save the next generation of kids.

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