Alma Sipple, a single mother in Tennessee, could not afford medical care for her ten-month-old daughter Irma when a knock on the door changed her life: there stood a woman with close-cropped grey hair, round wireless glasses and a broad, stern face.The older woman exuded authority as she explained she was the director of a local orphanage. She had come to help. Alma was relieved and excitedly rushed to show the lady her sickly child.
Examining the baby, the woman offered to pass her off as her own at the local hospital in order to obtain free treatment. She warned Alma not to accompany her, explaining: “If the nurses know you’re the mother, they’ll charge you.”
Lifting the child from her bed, the woman turned and disappeared. Two days later, Alma was told her baby had died.
In reality, Irma had been flown to an adoptive home in Ohio. Alma would not see her daughter again for 45 years.
Far from being the kind savior that Alma thought she was, the woman who had taken Irma was a baby thief.
For 30 years, Georgia Tann made millions of dollars selling children. A network of scouts, corrupt judges and politicians helped her steal babies. She targeted youngsters on their way home from school, promising them ice cream and tempting them away from their homes. Legal papers would be signed saying they were abandoned – most would never see their families again.
Come with us to the quiet end as we discuss the cruelty suffered by children and families at the hands a woman considered by many to have been the most prolific child abuser and killer in a century.
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