People & Places

Best Local Girl Gone Bad 

Judy Pickens

The crime is so heart-wrenching, it's difficult to comprehend. In the fall of 2004 a St. Louis mother of two takes her extremely sick children to the hospital with a mysterious illness. The doctors try everything but nothing seems to work. The mother's four-year-old boy dies at the hospital after days of unrelenting vomiting. Meanwhile, all does not seem quite right with the mother — Judy Pickens. Could it be that she was poisoning her children? The medical staff had its theories, and after banning Pickens from her daughter's hospital room, the little girl rebounded within days. Sixteen months later — in 2006 — a toxicology report led prosecutors to charge Pickens with six felonies including child abuse and homicide. The allegations came as a shock to Pickens' husband, family and friends, who consider her nothing but a devoted mother and churchgoer. But that's not how a jury saw Pickens this summer. Five years after the death of her son, a St. Louis jury convicted Pickens of poisoning her children with blood-pressure medication and a judge sentenced her to two life sentences and an additional 157 years in prison.

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