On Murder Shelf Book Club Podcast, we have been in the midst of recording a series on Charles Cullen; dubbed an ‘angel of death.’ Often, these ‘angels’ are considered mercy killers; they are hospital workers, care givers — those who we entrust our sick and aging loved ones to be cared for when we ultimately cannot. Yet, Charlie was no angel. He killed at random, loading chemical cocktails into IV bags and sending them out into the Intensive Care Unit like grenades. It was a lottery of sorts; each combination of drug creating a special biochemical effect pushing and pulling just enough to send a patient on the mend over the edge.
For our final episode of the series, which we dub 2ndCast; my co-host and I often discuss various topics from the case that we might not have gotten to cover in detail. We decided to research more ‘angels of death’ — especially those who were male, like our real life villain — Charles Cullen. Male healthcare serial killers are very rare. In my research, I stumbled across the opposite — a woman, a ‘pretend’ child caretaker, named Dagmar Overbye dubbed Englemagersken — “Angel Maker.” Unfortunately, she does NOT have a book for us to cover in Book Club — but I wanted to share her story.
I would go as far to say as she is one of the most sinister women I’ve come across. From the period of 1913–1920 she has been thought to be responsible for the deaths of at least 25 children through various methods — strangulation, drowning, even burning them alive. Of course, like many other serial killers, that number is most likely higher.
Dagmar Overbye was born in a small town in Denmark, called Assendrup, on April 23rd, 1887. As farmers, her parents were poor; she ended up being more prone to stealing as opposed to dedicating herself to her schoolwork. At age 12, Dagmar was caught stealing a purse and her parents sent her off to work for another family in Funen. There, she was made to cook, clean, do the wash, milk the cows, and other farming duties. Unfortunately, her time spent in Funen did not teach discipline. After a while, Dagmar began stealing again and she was sent to a women’s prison.