That evening, she wrote an email to Folbigg’s lawyer and told him she was there. As she deepened the investigation, she surmised that her scientific work would help guide the legal system closer to the truth. She had no idea that over the course of two devouring years, she would end up facing painful questions about her own life – as a scientist and as a parent. In her email to the lawyer, she wrote: “As a mother, I can’t think of a more worthwhile cause in which to invest time and effort. I find it hard to believe that there is has someone in jail for it. “
Kathleen Megan British was born in the winter of 1967 in the working-class district of Balmain, Sydney. His father, Thomas, was a hoist driver on the nearby docks. Her mother, Kathleen (whose name she is named), worked in a factory. Thomas was violent; Kathleen drank a lot. After a particularly vicious fight, Kathleen flees, leaving her little girl, just 18 months old, with Thomas. A few weeks later, in a rage of drunkenness, Thomas ambushed his wife on the street and asked her to come home. When she refused, he stabbed her 24 times with a 10-inch-long carving knife. As she lay dying, he cradled her in his arms, kissing her on the face as he awaited the arrival of the police.
For a year, baby Kathleen was in the care of her aunt and maternal grandmother. Then she was sent to a children’s home and then to a foster family in Newcastle, a mining town 100 miles north of Sydney. The new family fed and clothed Kathleen and sent her to school, but her foster mother was tough and, according to court documents, hit her with the handle of a feather duster when she misbehaved. Her adoptive father was distant. At 17, Kathleen dropped out of high school and moved in with a friend. One weekend she was dancing at a club when she met a handsome man named Craig Folbigg. He was 23, spoke well, and worked as a forklift driver in the city’s largest mining company. They started dating, fell in love and quickly moved into an apartment on the outskirts of Newcastle. Craig, who came from a large Catholic family, had lost his mother as a teenager. He was eager to start a family. Kathleen, too, longed for stability.
In 1987, when Kathleen was 20, the couple married. A year and a half later, in early February 1989, Kathleen gave birth to their first child. They named the boy Caleb. On February 20, Kathleen remembers getting up to feed the baby at 1 a.m. and then falling back to sleep. About two hours later, she woke up to use the bathroom and went to see him. Caleb was not breathing. “My baby, there is something wrong with my baby,” she shouted. Craig rushed over and attempted CPR, and he told Kathleen to call an ambulance. Paramedics were unable to resuscitate the boy. He was pronounced dead at the age of 19 days.
The Folbiggs’ second child, Patrick, was born a year later. Late one night when he was 4 months old, Kathleen heard Patrick cough. She walked over to his crib to comfort him, and he fell asleep again. At around 4:30 a.m., she looked at him and saw that he was limp, blue, not breathing. Craig attempted CPR again while Kathleen called the paramedics. They arrived quickly and transported the baby to the hospital, where he was resuscitated. Doctors at the hospital concluded that Patrick had suffered from what is called a “life-threatening event”, a mysterious syndrome that mainly affects children under the age of 1. Patrick ended up with brain damage that caused partial blindness and regular seizures. and would now require almost constant monitoring. Kathleen, who was hoping to return to work after he was born, decided to stay home to care for the boy while Craig worked in a demanding new job at a local car dealership. About four months later, on February 13, 1991, Kathleen called Craig at work, distraught. “It happened again,” she cried. “I need you.” By the time Craig got home, Patrick had passed away. He was 8 months old.
In October 1992, Kathleen gave birth to a third child and the couple named her Sarah. This time, the Folbiggs moved Sarah’s bed to their bedroom so they could watch her closely while she slept. On August 30, 1993, Craig put Sarah to bed around 10:30 p.m. A few hours later, Kathleen remembers going to see her and listening to her breath. When she heard nothing, she turned on the light. Sarah was blue and still. She was declared deceased at the age of 10 months and 16 days.