Marybeth Roe was born in Duanesburg, N.Y. on September 11, 1942. She was a typical student at Duanesburg High School where she and her younger brother went. Her father, Alton Roe, worked as a press operator for General Electric.
After graduating from high school, Marybeth worked in a series of low wage jobs before becoming a nurse’s aide at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady. In 1963, she met Joe Tinning on a blind date. They were married in the spring of 1965.
Over the next twenty years, Marybeth gave birth to 8 children and adopted another. All of the children died, most for no apparent reason.
In the first five years of Marybeth’s marriage to Joe, they had two children, Barbara and Joseph Jr. In October of 1971, Marybeth’s father died of a sudden heart attack. In December of that same year Marybeth gave birth to a third child, Jennifer. On January 3, 1972 Jennifer died in a Schenectady hospital of a severe infection, which was diagnosed as meningitis. At that time most investigators did not believe that this death was suspicious because Jennifer was sick at birth and never brought home. The successive deaths of her father and her baby, may have stirred something in Marybeth’s already fragile mental condition.
Seventeen days later, on January 20, 1972, Marybeth took Joseph Jr. age 2, to the Ellis Hospital emergency room in Schenectady. She reported that he had had some type of seizure. The child was kept under observation for a time. When doctors could not find anything wrong with him, Joseph Jr. was sent home. Several hours later, Marybeth returned to the ER with Joe Jr. This time he was dead. Marybeth told doctors that she placed him in bed and returned later to find him tangled in the sheets and his body blue.
Six weeks after the death of Joseph Jr., Marybeth was back at the same emergency room with her daughter, Barbara, age 4. She told the staff that the little girl had gone into convulsions. Though the doctors wanted the child to remain overnight, Marybeth insisted on taking her home. Several hours later she returned with Barbara, who was unconscious. The child later died in a hospital bed from unknown causes. Reye’s Syndrome was suspected in Barbara’s death, but never proven.
On Thanksgiving Day 1973, Marybeth gave birth to a son, Timothy. On December 10, three weeks after his birth, Timothy was brought back to the same hospital. He was dead. Tinning told doctors she found him lifeless in his crib. Doctors found nothing medically wrong. His death was officially attributed to SIDS.
Two years later, on March 30, 1975 (Easter Sunday), Tinning gave birth to her fifth child, Nathan. On September 2, Marybeth showed up at St. Clare’s Hospital with Nathan dead in her arms. She said she was driving in her car with the baby in the front seat when she noticed that he had stopped breathing. There was no explanation for Nathan’s death and it was also attributed to SIDS.
In 1978, the couple made arrangements to adopt a child. The same year, Tinning became pregnant again. The Tinnings did not cancel the adoption and chose to keep both children. In August 1978, they received a baby boy, Michael, from the adoption agency. Two months later, on October 29, Marybeth gave birth to her sixth child, Mary Frances. In January 1979, Tinning rushed Mary Frances to the emergency room, directly across the street from her apartment, saying the baby had a seizure. The staff was able to revive her. On February 20, Tinning came running into the same hospital with Mary Frances, who was brain dead. Tinning said she found the baby unconscious and did not know what had happened to her. Once again, the death was attributed to SIDS.
On November 19, 1979 Marybeth gave birth to her seventh child, Jonathan. In March 1980, she showed up at St. Clare’s hospital with Jonathan unconscious. He was revived. Due to the family history, Jonathan was sent to a Boston Hospital where he was thoroughly examined. The doctors could find no valid medical reason why the baby had stopped breathing and Jonathan was sent home. A few days later, Marybeth returned to the hospital with Jonathan, who was brain dead. Jonathan died on March 24, 1980.
On the morning of March 2, 1981, Tinning showed up at her pediatrician’s office with Michael, her adopted child, then two and a half years old. Michael was wrapped in a blanket and unconscious. Marybeth told the doctor that she could not wake Michael and had no idea what was wrong. When the doctor examined Michael, he was already dead.
On August 22, 1985, Marybeth gave birth to her eighth biological child, Tami Lynne. On December 19, next-door neighbor Cynthia Walter, who was a practical nurse, went shopping with Marybeth and later visited her home. Later that night, Walter received a frantic phone call from Marybeth. When Walter arrived, she found Tami Lynne lying on a changing table. Walter said the child was not moving and she could not feel any pulse or breathing. At the emergency room, Tami Lynne was pronounced dead.
Marybeth was always alone when the children died. During a police interrogation she confessed to smothering Tami Lynne, Nathan and Timothy. She denied harming any of the other children. She was convicted of murdering Tami Lynne and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Marybeth Tinning has been before the parole board in 2009, 2011 and 2013 and has been denied each time. Her next opportunity for parole will be in January 2015.