Woman admits killing 5 children to stop their crying

April 01, 1994|By New York Times News Service

NEWARK VALLEY, N.Y. -- Waneta E. Hoyt said her five children died because they cried.

In a signed confession, she said she smothered her children -- Erik, James, Julie, Molly and Noah -- because their screaming made her feel useless.

"It was the thing that caused me to kill them all, because I didn't know what to do for them," Mrs. Hoyt said in a confession taken by investigators hours before her arrest last week on five counts of murder.

The statement, one of two provided to investigators by Mrs. Hoyt, transformed what had been a textbook case of the so-called crib death of her five children more than 20 years ago into another kind of family cataclysm.

In the statement, the 47-year-old woman acknowledged that she asphyxiated her 2-month-old daughter, Julie Marie, by pressing the infant's "nose and mouth into my shoulder until she stopped struggling."

"She was crying, and I wanted her to stop," Mrs. Hoyt said.

She also described strangling her 2-year-old son, James Avery, three weeks later with a bath towel when he disturbed her in the bathroom.

"He started crying, 'Mommy, Mommy,' " she said. "I wanted him to stop crying for me, so I used a bath towel to smother him. We were in the living room when I did this. He got a bloody nose from fighting against the towel. After he was dead, I picked him up and flagged down a garbage truck for help."

She also said she used pillows to suffocate three other children, Molly Marie, Noah and Erik, each at the age of 3 months and each when the baby was crying.

The confession was the main evidence presented by prosecutors Wednesday night at a felony hearing. Town Judge James VanNordstrand ruled there was enough evidence to hold Mrs. Hoyt for indictment by a grand jury.

The public defenders for Mrs. Hoyt, who is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, say she now renounces the confession.

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