The Ogress of Reading: This Woman Remains The Deadliest Serial Killer In British History

Ogress of Reading

The Ogress of Reading as she is popularly called, Amelia Dye has been named the most achieved serial killer in all of the United Kingdom. She was born Amelia Elizabeth Hobley in 1837 at Pyle Marsh, a small village east of Bristol. By 1859, she had lost both parents and in 1861 when she was only 24, she married George Thomas who was 59 as at then. After her marriage to George, she trained as a nurse and came in contact with a midwife Ellen Dane, who then proceeded to teach her an easier way of making a living, “Baby Farming”. Amelia began by using her home to illegitimately adopt babies and young ladies who are pregnant out of wedlock. She went into Baby farming and kept it on a low key to avoid implications.

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Unfortunately for Amelia, her husband died in 1869 leaving her to fend for herself and their daughter. In dire need of income, she turned to the Baby Farming business which seemed like the only logical thing to do with her training as a nurse. She changed her surname to Dyer and began taking out media ads.  As Amelia’s enterprise boomed, she became more evil and upgraded her trade to a higher evil. She began by just convincing young pregnant girls to give up their babies for better care taking. She would appear sweet and true to her word thereby convincing these innocent victims to give up their kids. When she collects the babies she would let them die of starvation sometimes using drugs to subdue the troublesome ones and keep them quiet until they died of hunger and neglect.


When it seemed like the women were no longer trusting her so much and authorities were becoming suspicious, she stepped up a notch by opening a house of confinement where she took care of unmarried young women for a fee. She went as far as helping some mothers who did not want the baby to kill them off.

Soon, Amelia got fed up with having to keep the babies until they died of hunger and resorted instead, to using a tape to strangle them as soon as she gets them. This method save her the stress of having to watch the child. It also ensured that she gets to keep all of the money that was paid on the child rather than using a part of it to purchase food or the drugs with which she would sedate the child.

For quite some time, Amelia was able to keep her activities from the authorities until a doctor became suspicious about the number of infant deaths at her establishment. In 1879, Amelia was charged with manslaughter and sentenced to six months hard labor which destroyed her mentally. It amazed people that despite the fact that at the time of her sentence she had already killed over 50 infants, she still did not get a harsher sentence.


After her stay in jail, Amelia came out more determined than ever to earn a living. She went into opium addiction and proceeded to carry out the most lethal Venture in the history of Reading city. At this time, She realized there was no need to involve doctors in her activities, so she went into strangling the babies on the same day she gets them and throwing the bodies into the river Thames. To avoid the eye of the authorities and caring mothers coming back to see their children, she moved around a lot and never stayed in one place for long. She equally used different names for different transactions. This helped her stay unidentified from both parents and the Police. Whenever they came close to bringing her in, she would feign mental illness and spend some time in an asylum to throw the authorities off her back. After experiencing an awful time in Wells Mental Asylum in 1893, she vowed never to go back and that was the last time she did her mental illness trick. Dyer finally ended up in Kensington Road, Reading in the year was 1895.


To get better offers from her victims, She began to advertise herself on media as a childless woman looking to adopt a child. This worked wonderfully as many mothers replied her advert. She adopted many babies and kept dumping their corpses in the river. There is always a hope that people like Dyer would make a mistake and Amelia’s mistake was discovered when a carpet bag containing a baby’s corpse was fished out of the Thames. A proper search of one of the babies that washed up revealed her name and address on the tape she had used to strangle the baby. To better prove her guilt, the police put her house under surveillance and arranged for a young woman to call on Dyer as a decoy. When the time came for the arranged meeting, instead of a young woman, Dyer opened the door to a bunch of hefty detectives who then proceeded to search her house thoroughly. It was said the house stank of decomposition and yet no bodies were found. So while the river was dredged, the police discovered masses of evidence alluding to babies that were plainly unaccounted for in Dyer’s house. Soon the river also gave up it’s dreadful secrets when six bodies were recovered. However, the paper evidence suggested the disappearance of twenty babies from the period of January to April 1896. She was arrested and found guilty of killing over 400 babies.

On 22nd day of May 1896, Amelia appeared in court and pleaded guilty to the murder of one of the children. After her guilt plea, it took the jury only 4 minutes to sentence her to death by hanging. On the 10th of June 1896, she was hanged. Her atrocious acts caused a huge scandal, making the press to nickname her The Ogress of Reading. Even though people no longer remember Amelia Dyer as they do Jack the Ripper and other serial killers, she remains the most achieved serial killer in all of Britain.