Hilda Nilsson was born in 1876, in Helsingborg, Sweden. She was married to Gustaf, and they lived in Helsingborg. Due to rising debt, Hilda decided to care for children of single mothers who needed help.
In those days to have a child out of wedlock was a moral crime and to ask a fee to care for those children was common practice, they called it baby farming.
A lot of times the mothers would pay the fee and never come back. Hilda’s house was clean and gave the mothers peace of mind; unfortunately, the money Hilda generated from looking after the babies was not enough to the bills.
Hilda killed most of the babies after they were dropped off. She would put the baby in the washtub and put a heavy object on them to drown them and returned a few hours later to collect the body. Her way of disposing of the unfortunate children was to burn them and less frequent to bury them.
What set Hilda apart from other baby farmers of that time was she would actively murder them. The other baby farmers were no better, what they would do is leave the children to succumb to starvation and filthy living conditions.
Hilda was caught because, Blenda Henricsson, wanted to get into contact with her baby when Hilda refused Blenda contacted the police. It did not take long for the police to arrest Hilda for murdering the babies as they found a lot of evidence for a conviction.
Her trial started on the 2nd of June 1917 and on the 15 of June she was convicted of killing eight children; some say she murdered as many as 17 babies.
Hilda was sentenced to death by guillotine. Before she would lose her head, she committed suicide in Cell 5 in Landskrona Citadel prison by hanging herself with a linen cloth which she had tied to the cell door on the 10 of August 1917.
On the same day she committed suicide, the court commuted her death sentence to life imprisonment.
More Interesting notes on the Hilda Nilsson case
Hilda was the last death penalty prisoner in Sweden’s history not to be pardoned.
She got away with the crimes as long as she did because the mothers of the children did not know what happen to their babies and the children was delivered in secret, so there was no paper trail.
In the community of Helsingborg, Hilda was a legend as there were stories of her spirit haunting the house where she killed the babies. Over the years the house was demolished as no one wanted to live in the house.
Cell 5 where she committed suicide is haunted. At one time there was a Danish prostitute in the cell, the next morning they found her insane, and in a crazed state, with a blood stain on the floor, the prostitute told the jailers it looks like the devil’s eye, that dripped from Hilda’s thumb bible.
Another woman who was in cell 5, said she saw a woman hanging in the window, and jailers said they hear mysterious noises coming from the cell. The prison dogs of Landskrona refuse to enter cell five after Hilda committed suicide.
After the 1940’s, Landskrona Citadel prison became a museum; it is located in Scania, Southern Sweden. Landskrona is a fortress built in the 1500’s.
Hilda is still known as Sweden’s most notorious female serial killer.