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Profile: Maria Swanenburg

A predator of the sick, elderly and helpless
  • Full Name – Maria Catherina Swanenburg
  • Nickname – Goede Mie
  • Born – September 9, 1839
  • Location of Activity – Leiden, the Netherlands
  • Years of Activity – 1880 - 1883
  • Number of Kills – 27 (90+ suspected)
  • Date of Death – April 11, 1915
  • Cause of Death – Unknown

Maria Swanenburg was a Dutch serial killer about whom little is known excepting her crimes.  It is known that she had two daughters that died young and that she lived in a poor neighborhood of Leiden, the Netherlands.  She was said to have been a caring woman, taking care of children and the sick.  She ran errands, kept their houses, bathed them and performed all the tasks that they needed to help them with their lives.  This good will is where she earned her nickname Goede Mie or “Good Me”.

Eventually, however, this caring nature would turn instead to murderous greed.  Those she cared for became her victims.  She began with the old and obviously poor of health, poisoning them with arsenic.  She would make sure to insure them in the guise of money for funeral expenses.  That money she would later collect, often leaving them without the means to be buried.

Swanenburg grew bolder over time, as the money she managed to collect didn’t seem to be enough.  She turned to poisoning whole families - men, women and children included.  After they were dead, she would collect their inheritance, using the excuse that she had helped take care of them to justify it.

Not all of Swanenburg’s victims died from her attempts at poisoning, instead being left permanently damaged from the experience.  It was some of these survivors that would eventually result in the killer being discovered.

In December of 1883, Swanenburg was caught after trying to poison the family she was working for at the time.  She was put on trial for 90 killings, though found guilty of murder only with regards to her final three victims.  She was then sentenced to prison where she lived out the remainder of her life, passing away in April of 1915.