Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Her Father's Daughter - The Kathleen Folbigg Story

Against All Odds

Map of Australia showing Sydney and Newcastle
Map of Australia showing Sydney and Newcastle

When Kathleen Megan Marlbourough left school in 1982, she was 15. Like many kids her age with a limited education, she worked at several low-paying jobs before marrying at age 20. Her husband, Craig Folbigg, was a steel worker. He was 25. They settled in Mayfield, a suburb of Newcastle, Australias sixth-largest city an hours drive north of Sydney.

Caleb Folbigg
Caleb Folbigg

Within a year, Kathleen was pregnant. She gave birth to their first child a son, Caleb, in February 1989. At the time of his birth Caleb was described as full term and healthy.

Five days later Kathleen took him home. One morning while feeding him, Kathleen noticed that Caleb was having difficulty breathing and took him back to the hospital where doctors diagnosed him as having a lazy larynx.

At 8 p.m. on February 19, 1989, Kathleen put Caleb in his crib to sleep. At 2:50 a.m. the next morning, Craig Folbigg was awoken by his wifes screams. Running to the sunroom where the baby slept, Craig saw Kathleen standing over the crib screaming, My baby, something is wrong with my baby.

Caleb Folbigg was dead at just 20 days old.

The official cause of death was listed as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or cot death.

Seven months later, Kathleen was pregnant again. She gave birth to another son, Patrick, in June 1990.

Patrick Folbigg
Patrick Folbigg

On October 18, 1990, Kathleen put Patrick to bed. Craig looked in on him at 10 p.m., and he appeared to be sleeping peacefully. At 3:30 a.m. the next morning he was again awoken by Kathleens screams.

According to the police statement, He rushed into Patrick's room and saw his wife standing over Patrick who was lying in his cot. Mr. Folbigg picked up the baby and noted faint, labored breathing. He commenced resuscitation until the ambulance arrived. Patrick regained consciousness, but was (later) found to now have epilepsy and be blind.

Patrick survived, but not for long.

On the morning of February 13, 1991, Kathleen called Craig at work, and, according to the police statement, said: It's happened again. Craig left work and arrived home just as the ambulances came. Patrick was taken to hospital, but was dead on arrival.

An autopsy was conducted and the cause of death was an acute asphyxiating event resulting from an epileptic fit.

Following Patricks death, the Folbiggs moved to Thornton, a town northwest of Newcastle.

A year later, Kathleen was pregnant again. In October 1992, a daughter Sarah was born.

Sarah Folbigg
Sarah Folbigg

All seemed well until 11 months later when Sarah caught a cold and was having trouble sleeping.

By 1:30 a.m. the next morning Sarah was dead.

This time, according to the police report, Craig was awoken by Kathleens screams and saw her standing in the doorway of their bedroom. Sarah was lying in bed, motionless.

Her death was officially attributed to SIDS.

After Sarahs death they relocated to Singleton in Hunter Valley, a popular wine producing area north of Newcastle.

The couple spent two years there before Kathleen became pregnant for the fourth time. Their second daughter, Laura, was born in August 1997.

Laura Folbigg
Laura Folbigg

Laura was apparently healthy when Kathleen brought her home three days later. Unlike her siblings, Lauras breathing and sleep patterns were monitored closely for several weeks after her birth, just to be sure.

All was well until 19 months later when Laura caught a cold.

Kathleen gave her medication but at 12:05 p.m. on March 1, 1999, she called an ambulance after Laura allegedly stopped breathing. According to the official report, two ambulance officers arrived to find Kathleen performing CPR on her daughter on the breakfast bar. They examined Laura and found that she was not breathing and had no pulse.

As before, an autopsy was conducted but, unlike the others, the coroner considered Laura too old to have succumbed to SIDS, recorded her cause of death as undetermined, and ordered a police investigation.

Categories
Advertisement