Houston Chronicle

July 1, 2001, 1:01AM

Not without precedent

Houston Chronicle News Services

There have been other filicide cases like that of Andrea Pia Yates. Courts nationwide have numerous examples of women of killing their children. Here are a few examples.


Diane Lumbrera -- Lubbock, 1976-90

Lumbrera's six children and a niece left in her care died over a 14-year period. She told authorities a former mother-in-law had put a curse on her so that all of her children would die young. But in 1990, at age 33, she was convicted in Kansas for the suffocation death there of her 4-month-old son. She then pleaded no contest in Texas to killing an infant son and was given another life sentence. She is in prison in Kansas.

Juana Leija -- Houston, April 18, 1986

Leija, 29, tossed six of her seven children into Buffalo Bayou. Two drowned; the others were rescued by two passers-by. Much of the fault for the offense was pinned on Leija's husband, who was accused of mistreating and abusing her. She pleaded no contest and received 10 years' probation.

Claudette Kibble -- Houston, 1986-90

Kibble killed three of her five babies over a four-year period. She claimed each child had died of natural causes but confessed in 1995 to drowning two, suffocating one and attempting to suffocate a fourth child. A psychiatric defense never materialized, and at age 23 Kibble pleaded guilty in exchange for a life sentence.

United States

Marie Noe -- Philadelphia, 1949-68

Noe was 77 when she finally pleaded guilty to eight counts of second-degree murder in 1999. She admitted to smothering her infant children over a 19-year period in one of the largest cases of maternal filicide ever recorded. She was sentenced to 20 years' probation. Noe had a long and documented case of mental illness.

Constance Fisher -- Fairfield, Maine, 1954, 1967

Fisher was twice committed to the Augusta State Hospital after separate incidents in which her husband arrived home from work to find the couple's children dead. In 1954, Fisher drowned her first three children in the bathtub. After five years at the hospital, Fisher was declared cured and returned home. In 1967, she drowned three more of her children. Found innocent as a result of mental illness, Fisher was recommitted. In October 1973, duck hunters came across Fisher's drowned body about seven miles downriver from the hospital.

Waneta Hoyt -- Owego, N.Y., 1965-71

In 1995, Hoyt, 49, was convicted of smothering her five children from 1965-71 to stop them from crying. She confessed to the crimes, then later recanted her confession, saying that police had tricked her. Insisting she was innocent, she said God would punish her accusers. She is serving a 75-year prison sentence for second-degree murder.

Gail Trait -- Buffalo, N.Y., July 17, 1978

Trait, 26, stabbed her four children to death and then told police she was trying to save her soul. Relatives said she spoke of a voodoo curse. Trait served 10 years in prison before an appeals court overturned her conviction and ruled her insane. She spent another 10 years in a psychiatric hospital.

Mary Beth Tinning -- Schenectady, N.Y., 1985

Tinning smothered her 3 1/2-month-old daughter in 1985. Though she confessed to also killing two of her sons, she is suspected in the death of all eight of her other children, who originally had been thought to have died of natural causes, dating to 1972. All of Tinning's children died before their fifth birthday. Tinning, now 59, is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Maria Isabella Amaya -- Port Chester, N.Y., May 30, 1990

Amaya, 36, stabbed her four children to death, then swallowed lye in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. An immigrant from El Salvador, Amaya was under psychiatric care at the time of the killings. She was found competent to stand trial and entered a plea of not responsible by reason of mental defect. The plea was accepted, and she has been hospitalized since.

Khoua Her -- St. Paul, Minn., Sept. 3, 1998

Her, 24, a Hmong immigrant in an abusive marriage, strangled her six children. She had suffered a lifetime of mistreatment, first in a refugee camp in Thailand and then in a bad marriage. She said she killed the children so they would not have to suffer and claimed her act was a loving one. She tried to hang herself after killing the children. She was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle