Children of the damned: Kristi Anne Abrahams and the mothers who kill their kids
- July 18, 2013
Life in the protection unit at Australia's toughest women's prison will deliver Abrahams into a world of pain.
Sentenced today for murdering her six-year-old daughter Kiesha Weippeart, Abrahams has joined the ranks of women who - in the prison pecking order - are the most despised of all inmates.
The "girls" at Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre in Sydney's west - drug dealers, thieves, prostitutes, con-women and killers with adult victims - will all consider themselves superior to the likes of Abrahams.
They will all be sizing her up, looking out for her vulnerabilities and contemplating attacking her physically or taunting her, as a way of interrupting the tedium of life behind bars.
These are the members of this most hated of clubs:
She murdered her toddler in a bizarre and cruel manner, by swinging the little boy around by his hooded top until he choked.
Then Rachel Pfitzner packed two-year-old Dean Shillingsworth's body in a suitcase and tossed it in a public pond.
After the suitcase was found and police began their grim investigation, little Dean became the "angel in the lake", until he was identified and Pfitzner was tracked down and charged.
Pfitzner told investigators Dean's death was an "accident", saying she had shaken him, causing him to lose consciousness.
But she told her mother a different version of events during a phone call secretly recorded by police.
Pfitzner told her mother that after throwing him to the floor, "(I) tried to control myself. Then the rage came up again and I turned and did it (choked him) again''.
Dean's father, Paul Shillingsworth, was in prison at the time, but their volatile and violent relationship on the outside may have contributed to Dean's murder.
Pfitzner also told police the boy's resemblance to his father contributed to her hatred.
A judge jailed her for more than 25 years.
Inside prison she has been unco-operative and at one point became involved in a fight with another woman who murdered her child, SW (see below).
Australia's worst female serial killer, Folbigg to this day insists her four children died from cot deaths or natural causes.
She was the product of a terrible childhood.
When Folbigg was two years old, in 1969, her father murdered her mother, also named Kathleen, by stabbing her 24 times.
Following her father's arrest, Folbigg was made a ward of the state and placed into foster care and later a children's home.
She married Craig Folbigg in 1987 and gave birth to her first child, a healthy boy named Caleb, in February 1989.
Caleb died, purportedly from cot death, at the age of 19 days.
The next child, Patrick, lived to eight months before succumbing to breathing difficulties, aged eight months.
Folbigg telephoned her husband at work, saying, "it's happened again!".
Next was Sarah Kathleen, born in October, 1992 and dying ten months later, and lastly, Laura Elizabeth, who died aged 19 months.
Folbigg was convicted of the manslaughter of Caleb and the murder of the three other siblings.
Originally sentenced to 40 years' jail, with a non-parole period of 30 years, she appealed and is now serving a 30-year sentence.
During the first few years of her incarceration, Folbigg was housed in a special protection area of Silverwater prison because of the severe threat to her safety from other women prisoners, for whom it would have been a badge of honour to kill her.
The mother who starved to death her seven-year-old - the child cannot be identified and is known legally as 'Ebony'- was a Valium addict with a controlling husband.
While living on the NSW Central Coast with her parents and sisters, Ebony deteriorated from a chubby, healthy child to die in squalid conditions in the bedroom of her Hawks Nest home in November 2007, weighing just nine kilograms.
SW's murder trial heard medical evidence that Ebony was so physically wasted she would most likely have been unable to stand, sit or swallow food in her final days.
She would probably have been comatose before she died.
The woman said at her trial that she was unaware that her daughter was close to death because she was heavily drunk and affected by large doses of prescription drugs.
The prosecution countered that the woman had known, and had told lies after the murder to conceal the fact, including telling police that she had fed and watched television with Ebony shortly before she died, and then helped her walk to her bedroom.
The sentencing judge described SW as "unimaginably heartless and cruel".
The woman's husband, BW, was found guilty of manslaughter.
Originally given a life sentence, SW appealed and it was overturned to a maximum of 40 years.
Her earliest date of release is now November 16, 2037.
A former Australian water polo player, Keli Lane is the daughter of a well known surfer, rugby player and retired NSW police inspector.
Her conviction as a baby killer and incarceration in the grimy surrounds of Silverwater Women's prison was a stunning and tragic fall from grace.
She enjoyed a privileged upbringing, went to a private girls school and was a talented sportswoman.
An elite water polo player at national and international level, Lane was a member of the silver-medal winning Australian Junior Women's team at the 1995 World Championships in Quebec, and it was her ambition to represent Australia in water polo at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
It was perhaps this that led to her disposing of her baby - Lane became pregnant, but could not afford to care for child while pursuing her sporting ambitions.
On 12 September 1996, Lane, aged 21, gave birth in secret to Tegan Lee Lane at Auburn Hospital in western Sydney.
Two days after giving birth to the child, Lane and her boyfriend attended a friend's wedding and there was no sign of the baby, nor were people aware of her pregnancy - including her boyfriend.
It was as if the child had never existed.
There were previous and subsequent births of children Lane did not keep until, finally she had a fourth child which now visits Lane in prison.
Lane's downfall came when a Department of Community Services officer became suspicious about the existence of a missing child and an investigation was made into the birth of Tegan.
Lane first told police that Tegan was living with a family in Perth.
She then said the father was a man called Andrew Norris, or Andrew Morris, and that she had handed him the child in the Auburn Hospital car park.
After a controversial - and traumatic four-month trial - Lane was convicted in December 2010 of lying under oath and of murdering her baby Tegan.
She received a jail sentence of 18 years, which she is currently appealing.
Kristi Anne Abrahams
She and her de facto partner, Robert Smith, shed tears when little Kiesha was reported "missing" on August 1, 2010.
Neighbours and relatives swung into action as a desperate search was made for the six-year-old who had "vanished" from the couple's Mt Druitt home in western Sydney.
What in fact had happened, although Kristi Anne Abrahams has conceded only that she "nudged" the girl, was she knocked Kiesha unconscious in July 2010, before putting her to bed and did not seek medical help.
After Kiesha died, they kept her body in a suitcase for some days, before burning and burying it in a shallow grave.
They then reported her missing and pretended for the next eight months the little girl had disappeared.
The court heard Abrahams hated Kiesha because she resembled her biological father, Chris Weippeart.
Abrahams had been convicted of biting Kiesha in the shoulder when she was aged just 15 months old and at the age of three, Kiesha told a social worker her mum had burnt her with a cigarette.
Today, a judge sentenced her to a maximum term of twenty-two-and-a-half years for murdering the "vulnerable and defenceless'' child and for interfering with her body afterwards.
Abrahams' defence counsel said she had an intellectual disability, an IQ below 70 and was a "product of what happened to her", a disadvantaged background.
Apart from Keli Lane, the women Abrahams will now share her life with for at least the next 16 years mostly come from backgrounds of poverty, neglect and abuse.
Around 90 per cent of women admitted to prison have a history of emotional problems and mental illness linked with drug and alcohol abuse.
Up to half of these women inmates will have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence as a child and around three-quarters of them would have physically and emotionally abused as an adult.
And in the surroundings of the women's prison Abrahams now finds herself in, that makes for a hard life.