Just to prove mothers can be just as lethal

My last post was about the police solving a 40-year-old child homicide. The killer was the child’s father. Well, this article is about the police solving a 53-year-old child homicide. The killer was the child’s mother.

The story was that 7-month-old Jeaneen Klokow fell off a couch and smashed her skull and was killed accidentally on March 1, 1957. Oh, and it was her 3-year-old brother’s fault: he distracted their mother at a critical moment, and she looked away from Jeaneen, and as a result didn’t see her fall and didn’t stop her. It was that same brother, James, who in 2008 asked the police to reopen the investigation after watching a TV show about cold cases. I suppose he had had doubts growing in his mind for some time. Like, how high would a couch have to be for a seven-month-old baby to smash her skull just rolling off it onto the floor?

It seems the couch in question was 16 inches high. Not nearly high enough.

Two doctors exhumed and examined the body last year. Their report concluded that the baby died of “abusive head injuries” that resulted in a brain hemorrhage. The medical examiners found the injuries were “not consistent with a 16-inch fall from a davenport [sofa] onto a rug covering a hardwood floor, as was originally reported.”

So Mom, named Ruby Koklow, age 74, is now under arrest for murder. While being questioned by police, she said Jeaneen didn’t fall off the couch and she, Ruby, was “a little rough” with her because both Jeaneen and James were crying and she was frustrated by the noise. (In other words, it’s still James’s fault.) So she “may” have accidentally-on-purpose dropped Jeaneen on the floor.

The complaint goes on to document extensive allegations of abuse by Klokow against her four children. Her son told police he remembered seeing his mother bash his mentally challenged brother’s toes with a hammer.

Another one of Ruby Klokow’s children — a son — also died in infancy. Police have exhumed that child’s body as well. But she has denied killing the boy.


As to whether they can make the charges stick, that’s another thing. They might be able to. There was the famous death in White Bear Lake, after all. But either way, I think it’s great that the cops and prosecutor are trying, no matter how old and cold this case is.

13 thoughts on “Just to prove mothers can be just as lethal

  1. Princess Shantae February 11, 2011 / 7:38 pm

    Ruby’s sister has also accused her of mistreating her and their other brothers and sisters growing up. This sister says she even sawn Ruby throw Jeanine at her (Ruby’s) husband when they were both drunk and he didn’t catch her and she hit the floor.

    • Meaghan February 11, 2011 / 7:40 pm

      That’s terrible. And presumably Ruby’s sister was an adult at the time, so her testimony would carry more weight than the children’s.

      • Princess Shantae February 11, 2011 / 8:39 pm

        Her sister was about fifteen or sixteen at the time. Maybe if she’d said something earlier the other baby would of lived.

  2. Marlene February 11, 2011 / 7:53 pm

    Of course, mothers can be just as lethal.
    People think women kill children more than men do, but (in canada anyways) it’s about equal. They did a study that looked at all the solved murders of children going back to the 70s. It turned out that men actually murder children at higher rate, but the gap was very small, like 52-48 or close to that. Not what we would imagine.
    However, when children are murdered by a stranger, it’s almost always a male.
    The ways that parents kill kids is different. Men are more likely to beat or shake them. Women are more likely to drown, suffocate or starve them.

  3. forthelost February 11, 2011 / 9:10 pm

    It’s known – by dropping dead babies from heights – that it takes at least a few stories for an accidental fall to be lethal. (For infants, at least – the skull is still flexible and growing then.) Physicians are supposed to be very suspicious of an infant who dies from a supposed short accidental fall. And they are supposed to be very suspicious if the infant was supposedly dropped or thrown by a toddler sibling.

  4. Justin February 11, 2011 / 10:35 pm

    Why are people suprised that sociopaths can be mothers as well?

    • danielle February 13, 2011 / 12:25 pm

      because it just seems “natural” for a mother to love her child and be protective….

  5. Princess Shantae February 12, 2011 / 8:52 am

    B/c Mama is like baseball and apple pie and the US flag. 🙂
    When I was in nursing school one of my teachers said we should be suspicious of anybody that said they had dropped a baby. She said babies hardly ever get dropped by accident by somebody who is sober.

  6. Celeste February 12, 2011 / 10:20 am

    This doesn’t surprise me one little bit. I think that this is more than just a caseof a mother gone bad. I think that it seems to be a case of CPS, or whatever it was called back then, not doing their job.

    • Aniela February 13, 2011 / 10:04 pm

      There wasn’t much CPS back then, believe it or not. One of the most interesting parts of A Death in White Bear Lake is how even the physical signs of child abuse, like skull and long bone fractures, weren’t really recognized as a pattern until the ’70s. Mostly, hitting your kids was seen as a private family matter.

      It’s very sad.

  7. Princess Shantae February 12, 2011 / 10:45 am

    They can’t help if they don’t know they’re needed.

  8. Nancy Morarie Knutson January 25, 2013 / 10:52 am

    i think that when children are evaluated for mental illness or drug addiction and thurough in vestigation of the family at the home front should be done and a social worker should get involved to protect the child. Loads of kids are crying for help and when they try to talk about there problem or are angry they are told to shut up and nobody believes them then they themselves are at risk for hurting others. We need to take lifes seriously

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