Kathleen Folbigg Part I: The cursed blood of a child serial killer

Her husband saw her diary out of the corner of his eye and decided to open it.

He tried to forget what he read but it crept into his thoughts. When she spoke to him, the words of the journal fought with her voice for his attention.

Select excerpts from the dairy of the infamous Australian serial killer who killed her own four children between 1991 to 1998, Kathleen Folbigg- found and turned into the police by husband, Craig Folbigg, in 1999:

December 4 1996

I’m ready this time, but have already decided if I get any feelings of jealousy or anger too much I will leave Craig and baby rather than answer being as before. Silly, but will be the only way I will cope. I think support and not being afraid to ask for it will be a major plus. Also, I have and will change my attitude and try earnestly not to let anything stress me to the max. I will do things to pamper myself regularly and just deal with things. If I have a clingy baby, then so be it, a catnapper, so be it. That will be when I will ask for help and sleep whenever I can to keep myself in a decent mood. I know now that battling wills and sleep deprivation were the causes last time.

February 4 1997

Still can’t sleep. Seem to be thinking of Patrick and Sarah and Caleb. Makes me seriously wonder whether I’m stupid or doing the right thing having this baby. My guilt for how responsible I feel for them all haunts me. My fear of it happening again haunts me. My fear of Craig and I surviving, if I did, haunts me as well. I wonder whether having this one wasn’t just a determination on my behalf to get it right and not be defeated by my total inadequate feelings about myself. What sort of mother am I? I have been a terrible one, that’s what it boils down to. That’s how I feel and that is what I think I’m trying to conquer with this baby, to prove that there is nothing wrong with me. If other women can do it, so can I. Is that the wrong reason to have a baby? Yes, I think so, but it’s too late to realise now. I’m sure with the support I’m going to ask for, I’ll get through. What scares me most will be when I’m alone with baby. How do I overcome that? Defeat that?

February 17 1997

Found Craig’s jealous already of bub. He says he only has six months left to be with me and for me. Hopefully I’ve explained that’s not true. He should be for me, forever. Just because a baby is entering out lives makes no difference really. One day it will leave. But this one’s not going in the same fashion. This time I’m prepared and know what signals to watch out for in myself, changes in mood etc. Help I will get, if need be. I also know that my lethargy and tiredness and continued rejection of him had a bad effect. 

June 6 1997

From now on though I’m sure Craig’s attention and focus will change from me to his child and so it should. I couldn’t see that before. I was very selfish when it came to Craig’s attention. Hopefully this time we have both learned how to share it but still manage to keep a little something aside for just each other. We will see… maybe then he will see when stress of it all is getting to be too much and save me from ever feeling like I did before, during my dark moods. Hopefully preparing myself will mean the end of my dark moods, or at least the ability to see it coming and say to him or someone, hey, help I’m getting overwhelmed here, help me out. That will be the key to this baby’s survival. It surely will.

June 11 1997

…Don’t think I’ll suffer Alzheimer’s disease. My brain has too much happening, unstored and unrecalled memories, just waiting. Heaven help the day they surface and I recall. That will be the day to lock me up and throw away the key, something I’m sure will happen one day. 

September 20 1997

Sleep. Who needs it? Yes, I’m getting a little bit irritable now. This is my punishment for the others, to be continually woken up, because this time we know that we have a child with a sleeping disorder. Even though I’m sure they are all false alarms, the thought is still scary. am getting very stressed because I can’t depend on Craig for any real support or help. He doesn’t hear her or the alarms. How dare he complain to me about lack of sleep? What the fuck would he know? Think he’ll have to sleep in the other room, just so he’s not disturbed. Selfish prick. Well now I know where I stand. Craig is refusing to help and hasn’t even attempted to in any way. Just wants me to bear all the stress so he can keep selling his cars and making money. I suppose the stress of having to provide for us is real, but it’s nothing compared to this.

October 25 1997

Just watched video of Sarah. Little upsetting but she did some funny things. Made us laugh. Think John [Craig’s brother] was a little upset but he hid it well. I looked at it but have to be honest and say I cherish Laura more. I miss her, yes, but I’m not sad that Laura is here and she isn’t. Is that a bad way to think? Don’t know. I think I am more patient with Laura. I take the time to figure what is wrong now, instead of just snapping my cog. Also, she is a far more agreeable child and is easy most of the time. Not sure how Craig feels about Sarah now. Know that even though he tried, he loves Sarah just as hard and wasn’t prepared for that. I thought he could remain standoffish, but couldn’t I think Laura is beautiful compared to Sarah. She was cute, but Laura has a special look about her. Her slight difference in looks gives her a beautiful face, not just pretty, cute and cuddly, gorgeous and beautiful. Well, so far anyway. Looking at the video, Sarah was boyish looking. Laura has definitely feminine features. They are chalk and cheese, and truthfully, just as well. Wouldn’t have handled about one like Sarah. She saved her life by being different. 

November 9 1997

Craig was pretty drunk Friday night. In his drunken stupor he admitted he is not really happy. There’s a problem with his security level with me and he has a morbid fear about Laura. He – well I know there’s nothing wrong with her, nothing out of the ordinary anyway. Because it was me, not them. Think I handle her fits of crying better than I did with Sarah. I’ve learned to, once getting to me, to walk away and breathe in for a while myself. It helps me cope and figure out how to help me. With Sarah all I wanted was her to shut up and one day she did. 

December 8 1997

Had a bad day today. Lost it with Laura a couple of times. She cried most of the day. Why do I do that? Must learn to read her better. She is pretty straightforward. She either wants to sleep or doesn’t. Got to stop placing so much importance on myself. Must try to release my stress somehow. I’m starting to take it out on her. Bad move. Bad things and thoughts happen when that happens. It will never happen again.

January 20 1998

Very depressed with myself, angry and upset. I’ve done it. I’ve lost it with her. I yelled at her so angry that it scared her. She hasn’t stopped crying. Got so bad I nearly purposely dropped her on the floor and left her. I was restrained enough to walk away. Went to my room and left her to cry. Was gone only five minutes, but it seemed like a lifetime. I feel like the worst mother in the earth. Scared that she’ll leave me now like Sarah did. I know I was short-tempered and cruel sometimes to her and she left with a bit of help. I don’t want that to ever happen again. I actually seem to have a bond with Laura. It can’t happen again. I’m ashamed of myself. I can’t tell Craig about it because he’ll worry about leaving her with me. Only seems to happen if I’m too tired. Her moaning, bored whingey sound drives me up the wall. I truly can’t wait until she’s old enough to tell me what she wants.  

January 28 1998

Scared that she’ll leave me now like Sarah did. I knew I was short tempered and cruel sometimes to her and she left with a little bit of help. I don’t want that to ever happen again. I actually seem to have a bond with Laura. It can’t happen again.

March 6 1998

Laura not well. Really got on my nerves today. Snapped and got really angry, but not nearly as bad as I was to get. 

March 13 1998

Feeling very dissatisfied tonight. With myself, my life, Craig. What can I do… I need him to take some of the stress of looking after her off me. He seems to be failing lately.

“Obviously I am my father’s daughter”

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^photo from Australian Broadcasting Corporation; Kathleen, left; her children, right

Born in 1967, Kathleen Folbigg was to witness some atrocities as an infant. With the blood of her father, Britton Folbigg, coursing through her veins, she was cursed to have a tragic life from the day she was born.

“I done what I done. Then I threw the knife on to the footpath. I couldn’t realise that she was dead. I kissed her and cradled her in my arms. I then told two people to ring the police as I thought I had done my wife some harm,” said Kathleen’s father, Britton just after slashing his first wife’s throat in 1952. Luckily for her but unluckily for the rest of the world and for Kathleen, his first wife, nurse Margaret Cope, survived. Britton served only 8 months in jail for causing bodily harm. He got out, fathered a few kids, and in 1965, he met his next wife, Kathleen Donavan.

Kathleen had a tendency to gamble and drink to excess. She had abandoned her first husband with their infant daughter and adopted son earlier in her life, and in 1968 she repeated the cycle.

Kathleen stayed with her friend, Moya O’Brien, in the city of Annandale.

Now, here’s where things get tricky because we only have biased witnesses- the friend, Moya and the man with a motive, Britton.

According to Britton, Kathleen had been drinking more and more. She stormed off at a family picnic after Britton confronted her about drinking with her child. She had their week’s wages in her purse when she stormed off and she blew it all at pubs in the city that day. Britton was left with baby Kathleen and took a ferry to get home- Darvall Street, Balmain.

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According to Moya, Kathleen showed up at her home in Annandale very distressed. Kathleen confided in her that every morning Britton held a knife to her throat and asked: ‘Will I or won’t I?’

35 years later, Moya recalled in an interview, ‘She came knocking on our door, but she was definitely not drunk; she was in a tizz. Her intention was to get that little child back. She should have run and run and run, but I know she didn’t want to leave that baby. She was sincere. She opened a bank account; she made one deposit before she died. That baby was mother’s little girl. Her mum used to carry her around everywhere on her hip. I think everyone should know that she was a good mother … Her father was the monster.’

Britton showed up to Kathleen’s hideout and tried to coax her to come back with him. He began to threaten her and then got physical, slapping her in the face. He left only to show up a few days later to beg Kathleen to come back again. She retreated to a butcher shop and he followed her to get in a good punch to her face. He showed up a third time. He waited for her outside of Moya’s house and confronted her in the street as soon as he saw her.

Neighbours heard them arguing, overhearing him say ‘You are a black slut for leaving an 18-month-old baby. I’ll stick a knife in your ribs.’

Britton stabbed Kathleen 24 times with a knife. She died in the street. Baby Kathleen was one year old at the time and was sent to an orphanage after the catastrophe.

To be continued and psycho-analyzed shortly.

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