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Former Next-Door Neighbor Testifies to Finding Tinning’s Lifeless Infant

June 25, 1987

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (AP) _ A nurse who lived next to a woman accused of smothering her 3 1/2 -month- old daughter with a pillow testified her neighbor called her in a panic the night the baby died, asking her to hurry over.

Cynthia Walter said Wednesday that when she arrived, the baby was purple and had no pulse, and that she was unable to revive the infant through cardio- pulmonary resuscitation.

Walter also said the baby’s mother, Mary Beth Tinning, appeared ″calm, not emotional″ hours later.

Mrs. Tinning, 44, a former nurse’s aide and bus driver, is charged with second-degree murder in the 1985 death of her daughter, Tami Lynne.

All nine of her children, including an adopted child, died over 14 years. Police said she is considered a suspect in all but one of the deaths, though no other charges have been filed.

Walter fought back tears as she told of playing with the baby girl hours before her death. She said she had just returned from a Christmas shopping trip with Mrs. Tinning.

Walter said Mrs. Tinning called at 1:15 a.m. and asked her to hurry over.

″She didn’t say why,″ Walter said. ″She sounded very quavery, very panicky. She said, ’Cynthia, get over here right away.‴

After finding the baby on a changing table, Walter said she took her to the living room floor and tried to revive her.

″I asked her what happened and she told me she couldn’t sleep so she was up watching television,″ Walter said.

″She decided to go check on Tami Lynne and noticed a spot of blood on the sheet. She turned her over and she wasn’t breathing and she started CPR. She also said that Tami Lynne was tangled in the blanket.″

Mrs. Tinning occasionally shook her head as she listened to Walter’s testimony.

In a statement to police, Mrs. Tinning said that she placed a pillow over the baby’s head when she wouldn’t stop crying, and that when the pillow was removed, the infant wasn’t breathing.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Paul Callahan, Walter said most of the gifts bought during the shopping trip were for the baby.

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