One Texas Mother, 7 Dead Children. Was It Murder, Witchcraft or Just Bad Luck?
Do you believe in witchcraft or curses? Or that someone's ill wishes can harm another person physically? Many people believe in the supernatural, but regardless of that belief, it's very unlikely to hold up as a viable defense in a court of law.
One Texas mother, Diana Lumbrera, who had seven infants die while under her care, cited a curse put upon her by her mother-in-law as the reason all those babies died. Six of the babies were her biological children and one was the 6-week-old daughter of a cousin.
You probably have the same immediate question that I did- how would anyone get away with killing seven infants during the span of 14 years? And what finally got her "caught" killing these kids?
First, let's take a look at Diana Lumbrera herself. Diana was described as frail, " high-strung, emotional and frequently talk[ed] about her fervent belief in spiritual healers and "curanderos" -- witchcraft doctors." She was also said to have had a rocky relationship with her husband, whom she married when she was 17.
They had three children together, Melissa, Joanna, and Jose. They died at 3 years, 3 months, and 2 months, respectively. Melissa was reported to have died by aspirating her stomach contents, and the other two were said to have died due to "convulsions" that stopped their breathing. It seems that Lubbock and Bovina, Texas, officials wanted to believe Diana's account of what happened, or it never occurred to them not to, so it was all assumed to be unfortunate, but natural.
It was the late 1970s, after all, and while infant mortality rates were some of the lowest humankind has ever seen, officials were likely just less skeptical and savvy about a seemingly distraught mother and her string of "misfortunes."
Diana and her husband called it quits, but she went on to have three more children with different fathers. In 1980, her cousin's infant died while under her care. 1982, her toddler Melinda dies. 1984, infant Daniel dies. 1990, four-year-old Jose dies... this time in Kansas, not Texas. And that seems to have been where Diana's "luck" ran out.
This time around, hospital staffers called the police, and Detective James Hawkins questioned Diana at length, compiling a list of her previous children, along with the places and dates of their deaths.
Doctors had called detectives when they noticed, "petechiae across his face and on his eyelids." Petechiae, in certain distributions, is considered a "hallmark" of death by asphyxiation. Jose was not found to have any obstructions in his nose, trachea, or lungs that could have caused him to asphyxiate- leaving an external source as the only probable culprit. That external source was most likely his mother.
Diana had been the only person to see any of these children have the "compulsive episodes" that had provided such an easy cover for nearly all of their deaths. Perhaps the most damning for Diana- each child had a life insurance payout of between $3k and $5K. The Texas counties in which her other children died would open investigations into those deaths. In Kansas, Diana would be found guilty of the death of Jose, and sentenced to life in prison in 1990. In Texas, she would receive two life sentences in 1991 after pleading guilty.
Diana, now 64, resides in Mountain View Prison in Texas. Her last parole hearing was in 2018, but she was denied as the board felt she is a continued threat to public safety and has a disregard for the lives and safety of others.
If someone put a curse on Diana, it worked, but it seems to me that Diana was the walking, breathing curse the entire time.