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Police: Woman Who Says She Killed, Buried Baby Was ‘Pleading for Help’

September 6, 1989

TROY, N.Y. (AP) _ Marion F. Allen’s agonizing secret stayed buried for 37 years.

Finally, when she began expecting to hear voices from a corner of her back yard, she called police and convinced a skeptical detective with 44 years on the job that there indeed was a baby buried there.

Capt. Albert Prezio has seen and heard many strange things, he said - among them, people who claimed to have heard voices behind their walls or in their water pipes. Allen, 68, claimed she had killed her baby and buried it between the garage and the back-alley fence soon after giving birth to the illegitimate child in 1952.

And this particular woman had been under psychiatric care for several years, family members told police. But there was something about Allen that made Prezio listen.

″She was pleading for help,″ Prezio said. ″She was so sincere we took the chance she was telling the truth.″

After failing to reach any of her doctors Saturday to confirm whether or not Allen’s claims were a recurring hallucination, Prezio decided to dig.

Police unearthed a metal box containing the skeletal remains of a baby. The body had been wrapped in plastic similar to the sheets dry cleaners use to protect clothing, and the box was wrapped in more plastic material, guaranteeing no odor would attract neighbors or dogs.

But the presence of the body just 40 feet from her back door preyed on the woman’s mind, Prezio said. Through 37 years she told no one of the birth and then allegedly smothering the baby and placing the body in a container the size of a fishing tackle box.

The baby, Allen told police, was the result of an extramarital affair with a man who died seven or eight years ago, Prezio said. Police did not release the man’s name.

An autopsy performed Tuesday provided authorities with no conclusive evidence of the baby’s sex or how it died. Allen said it was a boy, Prezio said.

Allen, charged with second-degree murder, was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and faces a court hearing Thursday.

Allen kept her pregnancy from her husband, George, and son, George Jr., Prezio said, by wearing baggy clothing. She gave up sunbathing, a favorite pastime, to keep her secret.

″Her husband is totally clear,″ Prezio said. ″We believe his story that he was completely ignorant. He said he never noticed any change in his wife’s physical appearance. Neither could their son. I believe both of them.″

The Allens’ quiet, tree-lined neighborhood, a section of north Troy called Lansingburgh, is made up of one- and two-story single-family houses. It’s a working-class neighborhood in a blue-collar city where most of the Allens’ neighbors, like the Allens, aren’t talking to reporters.

Prezio speculates that Allen confessed because of ″what she faced by just looking out her dining area window.″

″She said she expected to hear voices from that corner,″ Prezio said. ″She worked herself into serious mental problems.″

Police dug several holes without finding anything before Allen asked Prezio if she could come out and show them the exact spot.

″She wasn’t four inches off,″ Prezio said.

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