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Michele KALINA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Infanticide
Number of victims: 5
Date of murder: 1996 - 2010
Date of arrest: October 26, 2010
Date of birth: 1966
Victim profile: Five of her newborn babies
Method of murder: Asphyxia, poisoning or neglect
Location: Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to the maximum 20 to 40 years in prison on August 4, 2011
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Michele Kalina hid baby remains; Sent to jail for 40 years in Pennsylvania

By Maryclaire Dale -

August 5, 2011

A WOMAN who said she secretly gave birth to five babies in her bathtub and hid the bodies in a closet has pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to the maximum 20 to 40 years in prison.

Four of the babies were still-born but the third born, a boy, had moved. That death was the basis for the one count of murder.

Michele Kalina, 46, of Pennsylvania, conceived the babies through a long affair with a co-worker and hid the pregnancies from him and her husband. She told a psychiatrist she had wrapped each baby with a towel and then stored the body in a tub or container in a locked closet.

She thought four were "essentially stillborn" and denied doing anything "malicious", testified Dr Jerome Gottlieb, a defence psychiatrist.

"She (said she) might have wrapped the baby too tightly with a towel so that the baby couldn't breathe," Dr Gottlieb said.

That boy's body was then encased in cement and stored with the others, in a cooler, tub or cardboard box, in a closet. The five bodies decomposed for years until her teenage daughter found the skeletal remains last year. By then, authorities could not determine how the babies had died.

Kalina, a home-health aide, also pleaded guilty today to five counts each of abuse of a corpse and concealing a child's death.

Dr Gottlieb described her as an alcoholic who was intoxicated during the births and does not fully recall what took place. She also suffers from severe depression and other mental-health issues, he said.

Public defender Holly Feeney sought leniency on grounds that Kalina had learned to deny reality as she endured severe physical and sexual abuse as a child. Dr Gottlieb suggested she put memories of the babies in a "psychological closet", much as she put their remains in a physical one.

Jeffrey Kalina, 54, a disabled stay-at-home father for much of their 25-year marriage, testified that he still loves his wife and would have raised the lover's children had he known about them.

"Sure, of course. Day One. Moment One," he said.

Throughout questioning, he said their marriage had not been sexual in 18 years, and said he had not seen his wife naked during that time, when she carried babies to full- or nearly full-term births.

Only once, in 2003, did he suspect his wife might be pregnant, but his daughter rejected the idea.

Kalina went on to deliver that baby at a Reading hospital. She told the staff she was separated and gave the girl up for adoption. DNA tests show the girl is also the lover's child.

Kalina had gone to Albright College for three semesters before getting married in 1986, at age 19.

The couple's first child, Andrew, was born the next year but suffered from cerebral palsy and serious developmental delays. Jeffrey Kalina blamed the problems on "a bad delivery." Michele Kalina cared for the boy at home for seven years, before her husband was laid off and became the caregiver to Andrew and their daughter Elizabeth, who was born in 1991. Andrew died of natural causes in 2000.

Kalina sometimes worked 70 hours a week or more to support the family, Jeffrey Kalina said.

She started the affair with a co-worker in 1996 and became pregnant that year. He declined to testify or attend today's hearing, and has not returned calls for comment left at his Reading-area home. According to Dr Gottlieb, he at one point refused Kalina's request to use condoms during their affair.


Kalina pleads guilty to third-degree murder in death of infant

By Holly Herman -

August 4, 2011

Michele G.M. Kalina pleaded guilty this morning in Berks County Court to third-degree murder for one of the five infants she initially was accused of killing between 1996 to 2010.

"You are throwing yourself at the mercy of the court," Judge Linda K.M. Ludgate said.

Kalina, 45, of the 700 block of Court Street also pleaded guilty to concealing the death of a child and abuse of corpse.

Ludgate said the agreement calls for a sentence with a maximum of no more than 40 years.

Assistant District Attorney M. Theresa Johnson asked Kalina if is she admitting to killing one of the five infants.

"I do," Kalina responded.

Kalina also said she abused the corpses of five infants.

Kalina is accused of murder in the death of a male infant of gestational age from 32 to 38 weeks old, according to records.

The infant was found encased in cement in a cooler in Kalina's closet July 29.

Kalina is married, but investigators said the father all five infants is Kalina's boyfriend, whom they have not identified.

Kalina's daughter, Elizabeth, 19, testified her mother was always nice to her and they did things together.

"She would take me to carnivals and amusement parks," Elizabeth said.

She said her mother worked as a home health aide many hours to help pay bills.

Elizabeth said her older brother, Andrew, who suffered from cerebral palsy, died.

She said she loves her mother and will continue to visit her in prison.

In other testimony, the defendant's husband, Jeffrey Kalina, 54, said the couple has been married 25 years and dated for two years before marrying.

He said he was unaware that his wife had five infants.

He said he loves his wife, writes to her and plans to stay married to her.

Under cross-examination, he said he was unaware his wife was having an affair.

"She was working on weekends," he said.

He said he stopped having physical relations with his wife in 1992.

He said he did not know his wife was pregnant and that she had a baby Aug. 23, 2003, in St. Joseph Medical Center.

He said he has forgiven his wife for the affair.

Dr. Jerome Gottlieb, a Lancaster County psychiatrist, said Kalina was sexually and verbally abused when she was younger and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Gottlieb said Kalina remembers little about the births of the five babies.

"She shows no emotion," Gottlieb said. "It's like she is talking about someone else."

He said Kalina denied she was pregnant. He said she gave birth to the first child in a bathtub and denied doing anything to hasten the death.

"At first she said she gave birth to stillborns," Gottlieb said. "She referred to all five of these babies as fetuses, emotionally detaching herself."

Gottlieb said Kalina was intoxicated during the pregnancies and when she gave birth.

"She could not explain why she chose to put the babies in a container and then in the closet," he said.

Gottlieb said Kalina kept the remains to remind her of her shame for having the affair.

She said she may have wrapped one baby too tightly with a towel and the baby could not breathe.


Pennsylvania Mom Pleads Guilty to Murder After Baby Skeletons Found in Closet

By Jessica Hopper -

August 4, 2011

A Pennsylvania woman pleaded guilty today to murdering one of her infant children after the skeletal remains of five babies were found in her home.

Michele Kalina, 45, expressed remorse at her sentencing but has not confessed to killing all five newborns she gave birth to secretly. A Berks County judge sentenced her to between 20 and 40 years in prison.

In July 2010, Kalina's husband and teenage daughter discovered containers in a storage closet in the family's Reading home that contained the remains of five infants. They were found in storage containers and an insulated cooler, according to court documents.

"One body was encased in concrete," Berks County District Attorney John Adams said. "It was a very bizarre case. The others were wrapped in garbage bags."

The skeletal remains were estimated to be from 32 weeks in gestation to newly born.

"There were five skeletal remains, but because of the condition of those skeletal remains it was very difficult to determine a cause of death. But we had enough information to charge her with one body," Adams told

In addition to the third degree murder charge, Kalina was found guilty of abusing the corpse of an infant and failing to report the death of a child.

Kalina, a home health nurse's aide, was carrying on an affair and neither her lover nor her husband knew about her pregnancies, according to court documents. Kalina gave birth to another child in October 2003 at St. Joseph's Medical Center and gave that child up for adoption, according to court documents.

Her husband of 25 years testified during Kalina's trial that he still loves his wife and plans to stay married to her, the Reading Eagle reported. He testified that they stopped being intimate with one another in 1992, the paper reported.

Her boyfriend, who she dated intermittently since 1996, has not been identified by authorities. When Kalina's stomach appeared bigger to her boyfriend, she told him it was a cyst, according to court documents. The boyfriend told authorities that the "cyst" returned at least two to three times, according to court records. It's unclear when Kalina gave birth to the children.

"Our investigation revealed that she hid these pregnancies and births from everyone," said District Attorney Adams in a press release. "Unfortunately, there are many questions that only Ms. Kalina can answer."

Kalina told authorities that her husband and daughter were forbidden from going into her closet and that she had "been meaning to clean that closet," according to court documents.

Her defense team claimed she was mentally ill and had suffered sexual and psychological abuse as a chilld.

A psychiatrist testified that Kalina remembers little if anything about the births of the infants, the Reading Eagle reported.

"She shows no emotion," said Dr. Jerome Gottlieb. "It's like she is talking about someone else."

Kalina's 19-year-old daughter also testified and described her mother as a good mother. Kalina also had a son born with cerebral palsy that died at age 13.


Kalina will not enter plea today in baby deaths

Action News has learned that accused murderer Michele Kalina will not enter a plea or be sentenced today, as previously anticipated, on charges she killed five babies born after hidden pregnancies - and kept their remains in a locked closet.

Kalina is expected to undergo further psychological testing. Attorneys on both sides will meet in court to outline the schedule.

DNA tests show Kalina, 45, of Reading conceived most, if not all, of the babies through an affair with a co-worker. Neither he nor Kalina's husband knew about the pregnancies.

Kalina, a home-health aide, is charged with one count of criminal homicide and multiple counts of abuse of corpse and concealing the death of a child. A gag order prevents lawyers from discussing the plea, or whether Kalina's mental health is at issue.

Her teenage daughter found the remains last year and called police. One set of bones had been entombed in cement and the others in a cooler, a plastic tub and a cardboard box.

"It may be the way in which women resolve these dilemmas: `I'm pregnant again, and I don't want to abort the child. But I don't want anybody to know that I have the child,"' said Geoffrey R. McKee, a forensic psychologist at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine who wrote the book, "Why Mothers Kill."

Women who kill newborns are usually young, first-time mothers who are afraid to reveal their pregnancies, he said. Kalina doesn't fit that demographic, but may share a similar motivation, given the on-again, off-again affair, which continued for more than a decade.

Such women are rarely found to be mentally ill, he said.

"There are some who are," McKee told The Associated Press. "But often it's not a contributing cause to the neonaticide. More often, it's (the death) designed to avoid being detected as pregnant."

Kalina started dating the co-worker in 1997 and soon appeared to be gaining weight. She told him she had a cyst, which she later said had been drained, according to police affidavits.

The "cyst" recurred three or four more times over the years, the boyfriend, whose identity has not been disclosed, told police.

Kalina, a petite woman, had no prenatal care during the five pregnancies, and it's not clear where she gave birth.

In addition to those babies, Kalina had a sixth secret pregnancy that culminated with the birth of a baby girl in a Reading hospital in 2003. She gave the girl up for adoption. DNA tests performed after Kalina's arrest in August show that child was also conceived with the boyfriend. He learned of her existence last year.

She had borne two children with her husband Jeffrey, in 1987 and 1991. The oldest, Andrew, was severely disabled and died of natural causes in 2000.

In 2008, the family, including the teen daughter, moved from a house in Reading to a high-rise downtown for the disabled. Her husband is disabled. Kalina allegedly moved the remains from an outside shed at the house to a closet at the apartment, and warned the other family members not to open it.

According to her family, she put in long hours at work, where she earned praise from both her employer and the families of elderly patients she nursed. Yet she conceded in police interviews that she was an alcoholic, sometimes prone to blackouts.

The U.S. legal system, in recent years, has hardened its view of women who kill their children.

In 1999, 70-year-old Marie Noe of Philadelphia was sentenced to five years of house arrest and 20 years of probation for killing eight babies decades earlier.

"All I can figure is that I'm ungodly sick," Noe said in a police confession, in which she admitted smothering three of her children with pillows.

There is far less empathy today, after a line of U.S. filicide cases that includes Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman who drove her two children into a lake in 1994; Christina Riggs, who smothered her two young sons in Arkansas in 1997; and Andrea Yates of Houston, who drowned her five children in a bathtub in 2001.

Yates is serving a life sentence after the jury rejected her insanity defense. Smith, sentenced to 30 years to life, is eligible for parole in 2025.

Riggs was executed.

Kalina, not unlike some other women accused of infanticide, appears to have lived a somewhat isolated life.

She had no extended family nearby, and investigators found no close woman friends in her life.

It's not clear if the boyfriend will be court to hear Kalina's fate.

DNA tests show he fathered at least three and possibly four of the five slain infants; there was not enough material from the fifth set to test.

Johnson once described him as "overwhelmed and shocked" by the news. He wants the babies to receive a proper burial someday, she said.

Defense lawyer Holly Feeney has not commented on a possible defense strategy. Amid the gag order, she has not returned calls for comment.


Not guilty plea in Pa. baby killing case

A woman pleaded not guilty to numerous charges on Tuesday morning after the remains of five babies were allegedly found in her home.

Michele Kalina, 44, was arraigned on charges of homicide, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, reckless endangerment, and abuse of a corpse.

Also during the hearing, the judge issued a gag order in the case. The gag order prevents anyone involved in the prosecution or defense of Kalina from talking about it publicly.

Investigators said Kalina hid all five sets of remains in a closet inside the apartment building in the 700 block of Court Street in Reading where she lived with her husband and teenage daughter.

"These remains were all badly decomposed skeletal remains," Berks County District Attorney John Adams said previously.

They said at least four of the five babies were the product of an extramarital affair between Kalina and her boyfriend.

Adams said Kalina lied to her husband and her boyfriend to mask her pregnancies and gave her family strict orders not to go in the closet.

Kalina's daughter broke that rule, found the containers, and tipped off police, investigators said.

Upon further investigation, detectives said Kalina's daughter also unknowingly threw out one of the sets of remains.

It was later found by a cadaver dog at the Conestoga Landfill in New Morgan.


Mystery of Michele Kalina: Reading infant homicides baffle experts

Mental-health experts find it difficult to explain the deaths of five Reading newborns because they've never seen a case quite like it. The mother is charged.

By Holly Herman -

October 31, 2010

A Reading mother is accused of killing five of her infants and storing their remains in containers at home.

It's a case that even experts are at a loss to explain or understand.

They're struggling for answers - and theories - because they have no point of reference for the charges against 44-year-old Michele G.M. Kalina.

"We can't really comment on a motive because this is unique," said Dr. Avidan Milevsky, associate psychology professor at Kutztown University.

Milevsky, like other professionals interviewed, is not working on the Kalina case.

"At the end of the day we have to admit that sometimes we never have a motive," Milevsky said of psychologists who look at criminal cases. "This is such a disturbing case that we have nothing to compare it to."

Prosecutors in Kalina's case do not have an explanation or motive for the crimes.

Cases of mothers killing their newborns typically involve only one baby, the experts said.

There is a recent case in France similar to Kalina's, but experts are unaware of any other case in the U.S. involving multiple deaths of newborns.

In Villers-au-Tertre, northern France, Dominique Cottrez, 45, is accused of strangling eight newborns and hiding the remains in a garage from 1988 to 2007. The case is pending in court and local experts are not yet familiar with it.

One theory

Despite the unusual nature of the Kalina case, Dr. Peggy Bowen-Hartung of Alvernia University does have a theory.

"She meets the definition of a serial killer," said Bowen-Hartung, who specializes in forensic psychology and is chairwoman of psychology and counseling at Alvernia.

"It's not uncommon for a serial killer to keep them as trophies as remembrance," she said of remains. "The babies were so young. She did not allow maternal attachments. This is a really weird case."

Investigators said Kalina, a home care aide for the elderly, gave birth to the babies between 1996 and 2010 while she was having an affair with a man whose name authorities have not released.

Officials said they have determined that the boyfriend is the father of three of the infants and that he likely is the father of the other two.

Kalina is accused of hiding the pregnancies from the boyfriend; and from her husband, Jeffrey E. Kalina, 54, and their daughter, Elizabeth, 19, then killing the infants. They ranged in gestational age from 32 to 43 weeks old when they died, according to prosecutors.

Investigators said the remains of four babies were kept in plastic containers, and a that fifth was found in a plastic bag in the closet of her apartment in the 700 block of Court Street.

Illness might be factor

Dr. J. Kenneth Weiss, a forensic psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said the first step for the defense would be to have Kalina evaluated for mental illness.

"Multiple deaths are uncommon," Weiss said. "Many women are horrified by the thought of having a baby - but usually they tell someone about it before they kill the baby."

Weiss said most women who kill their babies are suffering from a form of postpartum depression.

"You have to find out if she was mentally ill," Weiss said. "What were her other circumstances? These may have been unplanned pregnancies. What was she intending when she conceived?

"That sort of pattern would lead one to believe she has mental illness."

Bowen-Hartung said the Kalina case has similarities to the case of Marybeth Tining, 68, of Duanesburg, N.Y., who is serving 20 years to life in prison for killing a 3-month-old. Authorities said she could be responsible for killing seven other children but has not been tried or convicted in those deaths.

Tining admitted to killing one infant but has told authorities that the other deaths were accidental. Prosecutors did not have enough evidence to prosecute Tining in the other deaths because she brought the children to a hospital, where all the deaths were ruled accidental.

Bowen-Hartung said Tining suffers from Munchausen syndrome, which involves killing children for attention.

Unanswered questions

She said the deaths in the Kalina case could be considered neonaticide, the killing of a child less than 1 month old.

"The babies were so young, she did not allow maternal attachments," Bowen-Hartung said. "My question is, Where was her husband? Where was her daughter?

"It's weird. It's really weird. Did anyone around smell anything or call the (apartment building) superintendent? If it smelled so bad, why didn't neighbors call?"

Bowen-Hartung said neighbors might not have wanted to get involved.

The number of babies intrigues Bowen-Hartung.

Why, she wondered, would someone carry the babies to near term, allowing one to be adopted but killing the others?

Investigators said Kalina wrote a letter to her boyfriend in 2003 in which she informed him that she had delivered a girl and offered it for adoption.

A possible defense

Bowen-Hartung said Kalina might try to claim that she is not guilty by reason of insanity.

If such a defense were successful, Kalina would be committed to a mental health institution.

Milevsky said about 70 percent of women suffer postpartum depression for a few weeks after delivery, and that about 10 percent of women have more severe depression with symptoms that linger for months.

He said it appears Kalina suffers from severe postpartum psychosis, a condition he said affects less than 1 percent of women.

"Usually the mothers going through severe extreme psychosis would be the ones more likely to kill infants," he said.

Once a mother harms a baby, she enters into a mental dysfunction that is unimaginable, Milevsky said.


Mother charged with murder after killing five of her newborn babies and keeping their bodies locked in a closet for 14 years

October 26, 2010

A woman who conceived several children through an extramarital affair, and killed at least four of her newborns, was charged with murder today.

Michele Kalina, 44, kept the remains in her closet - stored in plastic tubs or encased in concrete for up to 14 years until her disabled husband and daughter found them in July.

Authorities say at least four infants were born alive but killed soon after birth. Tests on a fifth set of remains remains inconclusive about when the baby died.

Kalina, a nurse's aide from Reading, Pennsylvania, also bore a sixth child from the same affair in 2003 but gave that baby up for adoption.

Kalina and her husband Jeffrey have a teenage daughter - and had a 13-year-old son with cerebral palsy who died in 2000 after a long illness. His death is not said to be suspicious.

The husband and daughter found five sets of infant remains in a closet this summer in plastic tubs, one of which was filled with cured cement, police said. 

In interviews in early August, Kalina told police she had forbidden her husband and daughter from going in the closet and said 'she had been meaning to clean it'.

District Attorney John T Adams said in a news conference this afternoon: 'I'm very confident we have all the babies'.

DNA tests show the bones found in a locked closet came from five newborns. At least four of the babies were born at or near term, then killed in a manner consistent with asphyxia, poisoning or neglect, authorities determined.

Tests on a fifth baby were inconclusive. Kalina's boyfriend fathered three and possibly four of the victims, investigators said.

Kalina will be held without bail pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday.

She has been in custody since August on abuse-of-corpse charges. Her public defender, Holly Feeney, declined to comment today after Kalina was arraigned on criminal homicide, aggravated assault and other charges.

Kalina denied that she had had any other children or pregnancies until confronted with the adoption paperwork, police said.

Officers who responded to a call from Kalina's daughter did not think the bones were human at first and told her and her father they could throw them out.

Later that day, the pair called again to say they had found additional remains. Investigators then suspected the bones were indeed human.

One bone from the remains that was thrown out was later recovered at a landfill site, but did not provide enough evidence for officials to determine whether the baby was born alive, authorities said.

Mr Kalina had suspected at least once that his wife was pregnant but her boyfriend, who was not identified and in no way connected with the murders, said he was unaware she was carrying his children.

He said that he had noticed her abdomen growing after they began dating in 1996.

Kalina covered up the pregnancies by telling him she had cysts on her fallopian tubes that she had drained at a hospital, he said. The 'cysts' returned several times over the years, he said.

An affidavit in the case states that Kalina had an 'exemplary' work history, with 14 years on the job at a home health agency, and no maternity or extended medical leaves.

Police did not find any records to show she had received prenatal care or gave birth in any local hospitals, except for the birth of her daughter who was adopted.

Kalina acknowledged to police that she was an alcoholic prone to blackouts.

Until her arrest, she lived in a high-rise apartment with her husband, who is disabled, and their teenage daughter.

Mr Kalina told authorities that the containers had been moved to the apartment with other belongings from their prior home.


Michele Kalina, Married Mom, Charged With Secretly Killing 5 Babies She Had With Her Boyfriend

By Pete Kotz -

October 26, 2010

Michelle Kalina always told her husband and 19-year-old daughter Elizabeth to stay out of a closet at their apartment in Reading, Pennsylvania. And they did -- for two years at least. But in July, Elizabeth called Reading police to say she'd found human remains in the closet...

They had been kept in a cooler. Officers arrived, but told Elizabeth and her dad, Jeffrey Kalina, that these were not human remains. So the cops left and the Kalinas threw them in the trash.

But that same night, they would call police again. This time they had found two more containers holding what they thought to be human remains. Police would be more thorough the second time they visited, finding three suspicious containers, one of which had been filled in at the top with cement.

A week later police searched the apartment again, this time finding bones in a plastic bag and a letter Jeffrey's wife Michelle had written to her boyfriend seven years before, saying she'd had a baby girl in 2003, but that she'd given it to the Catholic church for adoption.

By the time the investigation concluded, police would come up with an astonishing story. It seems Michelle Kalina had been carrying on an affair for 14 long years with an unnamed man. During that time, she'd given birth to five of the man's children -- three boys, and girl, and another baby whose gender couldn't be identified.

It seems her husband and daughter never knew that she was pregnant. Her boyfriend noticed her growing stomach, but each time Michelle explained it away, claiming she had a cyst on her fallopian tubes. Michelle gave birth to the five babies between 1996 and 2000. Then she either killed them or allowed them to die, keeping their remains in her family's apartment.

Reading police have now charged her with abuse of a corpse and undetermined counts of homicide. (Special thanks to reader John But Not John the Perv for the tip.)



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