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Woman Indicted By Grand Jury In Child Death

February 12, 1986

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (AP) _ A woman who police say is a suspect in the deaths of seven of her infants and a foster child since 1972 has been indicted in the December death of her 3 1/2 -month-old daughter, officials said Tuesday.

Mary Beth Tinning, 43, was named in a single indictment in the death of Tami Lynne Tinning, who authorities say was suffocated with a pillow Dec. 20, said Stewart Sanders, chief deputy district attorney.

Sanders would not say when the Schenectady County grand jury handed up the indictment, and refused to reveal the indictment’s contents. The panel met Monday.

The Albany Knickerbocker-News cited unnamed sources in reporting Tuesday that the indictment is for second-degree murder.

Police have said they believe only the first of Mrs. Tinning’s children, a girl who died in the hospital eight days after birth, died of natural causes. In addition to Tami Lynne’s death, the other seven deaths are considered suspicious and are being investigated, police said. The oldest of the seven was a 2 1/2 -year-old foster child Mrs. Tinning and her husband were preparing to adopt.

Authorities had attributed the childrens’ deaths to natural causes or sudden infant death syndrome.

Sanders said it would be several days before the contents of the indictment would be revealed, and court officials said Mrs. Tinning would be arraigned later this week.

Mrs. Tinning was arrested last week and has been jailed since then. She made no comment during a brief appearance for a preliminary hearing on a lesser charge Tuesday in Schenectady Police Court. The hearing was canceled because the police court, a lower court, has no jurisdiction over murder cases.

Upon the advice of her attorney, Paul Callihan, Mrs. Tinning did not appear before the grand jury. Callihan said he had not had time to study the evidence on which the prosecution based its charge or to examine a statement his client gave to police. He said Mrs. Tinning is innocent.

State Police Capt. Gerald Looney has said Mrs. Tinning made ″statements and admissions″ to police following her arrest. But authorities have refused to elaborate.

Mrs. Tinning’s husband Joseph is not suspected in the deaths and has been cooperating with the investigation, police said.

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