Marie Fikáčková (September 9, 1936 in Sušice
- April 13, 1961) was a Czech serial killer.
Fikáčková grew up in a dysfunctional family and her
marriage had failed. She worked as a nurse in the hospital in Sušice,
in its obstetrics department.
In 1960 she was taken into custody and accused of
the murder of a newborn. During investigation she confessed to killing
at least 10 newborn babies since 1957. She beat her victims around the
head, causing them to die within hours or days. The motive for the
murders was never fully explained. Before the court Fikáčková was
charged with only two murders, as it was not possible to prove the
The hospital lacked properly functioning
supervision mechanisms to deal with the deaths of newborns, and the
murders were discovered only by chance. No responsible physician or
administrator was charged before the court or even demoted, and the
whole affair was kept secret for decades
Fikáčková was sentenced to death, and executed by
hanging in Pankrác Prison.
Born on September 9th, 1936, Sušice - executed on April 13th, 1961,
A twenty-four-year old nurse, Marie Fikáčková, is
arrested right at the maternity ward of the Sušice District Hospital
on February 27th, 1960. Two newborn babies, girls, die while she is on
duty on February 23rd, 1960. The autopsy proves that a serious brain
injury was the cause of death of the two newborn babies. One of them
has even broken arms.
The questioning starts on February 28th, 1960 and
takes nearly six hours. After midnight, Fikáčková spontaneously pleads
quilty. It is February 23rd, 1960 and she crushes the head and breaks
arms of the only twenty-hour old newborn baby right at the maternity
ward. She wounds to death that way a five-week old baby the very same
day. She says she attacked ten more newborn babies before. They are
said to survive.
The local people are taken aback. Fikáčková is
known to be a decent woman and a hard working nurse. There goes a
rumour about the number of murdered babies and the way the babies were
wounded. Some people even speak about stabbing needles in the eyes and
heads of the newborn babies. Although there is no evidence, the nurse
is said to be responsible for every baby who has died recently.
Marie Fikáčková is born to a rather poor family who
declare their support for German nationality. Her father is a violent
person and a heavy drinker who hates the Czechs. She does not relate
to her mother either. They quarrel very often. On the other hand, she
does very well at school. In 1955, Fikáčková successfully passes the
leaving examination at the Secondary Medical Service School in
Klatovy. She becomes a nurse at the District National Health Centre in
Sušice the same year. She starts working at the maternity ward in
October 1957. She seems to like her job there. When being questioned
by Police, she says she used to be tortured by her mentally affected
brother. She mentions her violent neighbour, too. When committing the
crime, she is married, but childless. She is even about to be promoted
to a head nurse.
Her motive? She hates crying babies. She tells
flat: "I was trouncing the babies right before or during my periods
only. Crying babies drove me crazy and my hatered of them even grew."
The medical experts find Fikáčková to be a person with hysteria and
blow-up tendencies which are beyond her control. But, when committing
her crime, she is sure to be completely sane. She says she would even
hit her own child if it cried very often.
It means she attacks only crying babies who cannot
be calmed down. She trounces the newborn babies under the attack of
hysteria. She says: "When I was pressing little Prosserová's head, I
could feel my fingers sinking into it. I did not feel any skull
cracking at that time. I was just pressing the little head and my
fingers got deeper and deeper. My anger faded away after a while and I
could continue working."
Police have to make sure that Marie Fikáčková has
not murdered some more newborn babies. They check the whole collection
of the handwritten medical documents, the work schedules and the
autopsy records, but they do not find any other strange death of a
newborn baby. Nevertheless, the medical documents write on two newborn
babies who suffered an injury when Marie Fikáčková was on duty. The
babies are thought to be injured while changing or weighing them.
Those injuries are explained when Fikáčková pleads quilty. She is
accused of those crimes too.
Marie Fikáčková is sentenced to death on October
6th, 1960. It is almost eight months after her being arrested. Her
solicitor appeals from the judgement twice, but the sentence stays the
same. The execution itself takes place in Pankrác prison on April
13th, 1961, early in the morning.
In 2007, the yellow press infirms the real number
of newborn babies who died after her attack. Some journalists labels
her "the present greatest serial killer". They are sure there were at
least ten more victims of hers. She is also said to be responsible for
a lifelong suffering of many more newborn babies in a form of
inadequacy resulting in an early death. But there is neither direct
nor circumstantial evidence for their opinion.
Infectious infantile paralysis causes the death of
lots of newborn babies, infants and little children at that time. The
medical statistics say that every twelveth child dies of that disease
in the early 1950s. The last infectious infantile paralysis pandemic,
which repeats every three or five years, breaks out in Czechoslovakia
in 1957. Fikáčkova becomes a nurse at the maternity ward in Sušice the
very same year. The yellow press says Fikáčková murders the very first
newborn baby in 1957, but the baby is highly probable to die of
infectious infantile paralysis.
The then medical routine excludes the possibility
of committing a serial murder within a health centre. The local
registry office and the local district people's committee must be
notified of any death within the local health centre. Whenever a
newborn baby dies, the autopsy is necessary. The reason is simple: the
doctors have to learn the cause and the circumstances of the death.
Even the Austro-Hungarian doctors did so. The autopsy should admonish
against the danger of a possible pandenic. We can say that the dead
can save lives. When a child is born dead, a child dies or a woman in
childbed dies, the autopsy is compulsory as well. As you can see, more
that ten newborn babies are impossible to die and be buried without
the autopsy. If there is a suspicion of murder, there are always two
pathologists from the Legal Medicine Institute present at the autopsy.
Those pathologists were present at the autopsy of the two newborn
babies murdered by Marie Fikáčková on February 23rd, 1960.
You should know that more than 94 per cent of all
children in the then Czechoslovakia were vaccinated against infectious
infantile paralysis during 1960. The disease has not occured in the
Czech Republic since August 1960. (Marie Fikáčkova was arrested in
February 1960.) Czechoslovakia became the very first country in the
world where such a disease has been completely stamped out. The
children's lives are endangered by lots of confirmed diseases now,
such as (non-infectious) infantile cerebral palsy.
The law enforcement authorities and the Local
People's Committe in Sušice are hardly to be accused of withholding
the truth of the real number of dead children. By the way, what is the
reason in sentencing a woman for murdering two newborn babies not
taking into account at least ten more murdered babies?! The case was
not a difficult one from the criminology point of view. As you can
see, it did not take a long time from arresting Fikáčková to her
"In dubio pro reo" means "When you are not proved
guilty, you are proved innocent". The court followed that principle.
What a shame, some journalists do not follow the principle and are
able to accuse of murdering ten more people, not having a single
evidence, even a woman who was executed almost fifty years ago.
The present judical practice might infirm the then
legal conclusions arrived at by the judge. Fikáčková was condemned for
a murder. But a lighter sentence might come into question - a bodily
harm resulting in death. The then medical experts did not answer the
question of her sanity clearly. The thing is: if she had been found
not to be able to control her "blow-ups", she would have never been
sentenced to death. Marie Fikáčková is the very first woman executed
Miloslav Jedlička, D. C. L.
Translated by inspector WO Pavel Vršovský, M. A.
Marie Fikáčková murder reconstruction.