The Baby Farmers

No Bodies, No Witnesses

On March 12, 1907, at a coroner's inquest, a three-man jury found that "the child Ethel Booth died from willful starvation and culpable negligence by Alice Mitchell. The coroner said that the case was "the most revolting ever dealt with. It is loathsome, disgusting, filthy and monstrous."

Alice Mitchell was arrested and charged with willful murder. During her trial it was revealed that there were many more people in high places who were negligent in their duties. The inspector of health, her superiors, the doctor, the undertakers and many more people in prominent positions were paraded before the court and sternly reprimanded.

But with no bodies, no evidence, no witnesses to actual murder and no one talking, the result was in the favor of Alice Mitchell, who escaped the charge of willful murder and was sentenced to five years with hard labor for the manslaughter of little Ethel Booth.

The case so appalled the nation that it was the catalyst for the tightening of the laws governing the regulation of baby minding clinics across Australia.


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