MARIA SWANENBURG, THE DUTCH POISONER

By Tim Lambert

Maria Swanenburg was a Dutch poisoner. She was born in the Netherlands in 1839. It is not known exactly how many people she murdered but its believed to be at least 27 between 1880 and 1883 including her own father and mother. She poisoned many more people with arsenic but they survived albeit sometimes with serious health problems for the rest of their lives. Swanenburg helpfully 'looked after' children and sick people in Leiden where she lived. She gained the nickname Goede Mie (good me) for her thoughtfulness. The motive for the murders was greed. Swanenburg obtained money from life insurance policies of inheritances. However in 1883 she was caught trying to poison a family called Frankhuizen. Maria Swanenburg was arrested on 15 December 1883 and on 25 April 1885 she was found guilty of three murders and she was sentenced to life imprisonment. She died in prison in 1915. Meanwhile the investigation into her crimes looked at 90 suspicious deaths and it lasted 18 years.

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