Amelia Sach and Annie Walters

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Amelia Sach and Annie Walters 1903.jpg

Amelia Sach (1873 – 3 February 1903) and Annie Walters (1869 – 3 February 1903) were two British serial killers nicknamed the Finchley baby farmers.

Crimes

Sach and Walters ran a lying-in home in Finchley, where women who had just given birth could rest. Around 1900 they began the practice of "baby farming" - taking money from women who were unable to keep their children in return for adopting the child. According to witness accounts the clients were mostly servants from local houses who had gotten pregnant and needed to get rid of the baby.

After the fee was payed to Sach, Walters would collect the baby and, once the mother was gone, dispose of it with a morphine solution or strangle it. How many babies they killed this way is unknown, although it is suspected to be at least 12, and possibly up to 20. It is also suspected they may have been responsible for the murder of the infant Manfred Masset, whose mother Louise was hanged for the crime in 1899. All the evidence incriminating Louise was circumstantial and she always maintained that she had given Manfred into the care of two women, believed to be Sach and Walters.

Sach and Walters were eventually caught when Walters allowed her landlord, a police officer, to help her with one of the babies. The landlord's suspicions were aroused when the baby died a few days later, and then he saw Walters with another baby which also died soon after. Walters's house was searched and the dead bodies of several babies were found. While in custody Walters told police about Sach. Her lying-in house was searched, and the clothes of a number of babies who had mysteriously vanished under the care of Sach and Walters were found.

Both Sach and Walters were charged with multiple counts of murder. At the trial the large number of baby clothes found in their houses was used to demonstrate the scope of their crimes. Both were convicted and sentenced to death. On 3 January 1903 they were hanged at HM Prison Holloway, the only double hanging of women in British history.