4 dead babies, a convicted mother and a genetic mystery


That night, she wrote an email to Folbigg’s lawyer, saying that she was there. When she investigates deeply, she believes that her scientific work will help guide the legal system closer to the truth. She didn’t know that in the two years of consuming energy, she would eventually face the painful problems of her own life-as a scientist and as a parent. In an email to the lawyer, she wrote: “As a mother, I can’t think of a career worth investing time and energy. I can hardly believe that someone goes to jail for this.”

Catherine Megan Britton Born in the working-class community of Balmain, Sydney in the winter of 1967. Her father Thomas is a crane driver at a nearby wharf. Her mother Catherine (named after her) works in a factory. Thomas was violent; Catherine drank a lot. After a particularly vicious battle, Catherine ran away, leaving her 18-month-old daughter with Thomas. A few weeks later, Thomas ambushed his wife in the street in drunken anger and asked her to go home. After she refused, he stabbed her 24 times with a 25cm-long carving knife. When she was dying, he held her in his arms and kissed her in the face while waiting for the police to arrive.

For a year, little Kathleen was taken care of by her aunt and grandmother. She was then sent to a children’s home, from where she was sent to a foster family in Newcastle, a coal mining town 100 miles north of Sydney. The new family provided Catherine with food, clothing, shelter and transport and sent her to school, but her adoptive mother was very strong. According to court documents, when she misbehaved, she beat her with a feather duster. Her adoptive father is estranged. When she was 17, Catherine left high school and moved to a friend’s house. One weekend, while dancing in the club, she met a handsome man named Craig Folbigg. He is 23 years old, articulate, and once worked as a forklift driver for the largest mining company in town. They started dating, fell in love, and soon moved into an apartment on the outskirts of Newcastle. Craig comes from a large Catholic family and lost his mother when he was a teenager. He is eager to start a family. Catherine also longed for stability.

In 1987, when Catherine was 20 years old, the couple got married. A year and a half later, in early February 1989, Catherine gave birth to their first child. They named the boy Caleb. On February 20, Kathleen remembered to wake up at 1:00 in the morning to feed the baby, and then went back to sleep. About two hours later, she woke up to go to the bathroom and went to see him. Caleb was not breathing. “My baby, my baby has a problem,” she ScreamCraig rushed over to try CPR. He told Catherine to call an ambulance. The medical staff were unable to resuscitate the boy. He was pronounced dead when he was 19 days old.

A year later, Vorbigs’ second child, Patrick was born. Catherine heard Patrick coughing late one night when she was 4 months old. She went to his crib to comfort him, and he fell asleep again. At about 4:30 in the morning, she looked at him and found that he was limping, his face turned blue, and he was not breathing. Craig tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation again, while Catherine was calling a paramedic. They arrived quickly and took the baby to the hospital, where he was rescued. The doctors at the hospital concluded that Patrick suffered a so-called “clearly life-threatening event,” a mysterious syndrome that mainly affects children under one year of age. Patrick’s brain damage resulted in partial blindness and frequent seizures-and now requires almost constant supervision. Catherine, who had always hoped to return to work after he was born, decided to stay at home to take care of the boy, while Craig took a demanding new job at a local car dealer. About four months later, on February 13, 1991, Catherine called Craig at work, and he was very anxious. “It happened again,” she cried. “I need you.” When Craig got home, Patrick was dead. He is 8 months old.

In October 1992, Catherine gave birth to her third child, and the couple named her Sarah. This time, Folbiggs moved Sarah’s bed to their bedroom so they could monitor her closely while she was sleeping. On August 30, 1993, around 10:30 in the evening, Craig put Sarah to bed. A few hours later, Catherine remembered to check on her and listen to her breathing. When she heard nothing, she turned on the light. Sarah turned blue and didn’t move. She was pronounced dead when she was 10 months and 16 days old.


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