The Case of Abelia Rudiger
My dear Corthos,
I hope all is going well for you! I am so pleased by how well you did on Florentia’s case. I have another case that I would appreciate your keen legal mind on.
Abelia Rudiger is a healer at several local clinics (Crossroads Clinic, Tranquility Gardens Hospital, and Villegre Medical Center). Her coworkers noticed that she was on duty during a large number of patient deaths, most of them involving infants, and reported to the authorities their suspicions that Abelia intentionally engineered these deaths. Abelia insists that she is innocent and that the correlation is merely a coincidence. I don’t know Abelia personally, but Villegre Medical Center is funded by House Jarvis, so we wish to prove her innocence.
There is, however, a complicating factor in this case. Tranquility Gardens is of course sponsored by House Tanessen, so they have similar motivations in proving Abelia innocent, and we have agreed to work together for our common interests. I have learned that Tanessen has chosen Alasdair Thrune as their representative. I fully understand if you wish me to find another counsel, but I would truly appreciate your expertise on this.
I refuse to yield a case simply because I have to work alongside another House member. After all, isn’t our success brought about by testing ourselves? A victory while one is handicapped is all the sweeter for having overcome.
Please send me the case file and all information. Miss Farrowfell and I will go over it, then perhaps we can go visit Alasdair for dinner and a chat. Strictly for business, I assure you.
Your obedient servant,
Wonderful! Enclosed is all the information we have on the case. I truly appreciate your willingness to take this on.
(Enclosed is the information on the case)
On the night of 29 Rova, Abelia Rudiger was on duty at Villegre Medical Center and was present at the death of an infant girl (Baby A.C.). A coworker noted that this was the fourth infant death that Mistress Rudiger had been present for in the past two months, and he took this concern to his superior. When the superior looked into Mistress Rudiger’s employment at Crossroads Clinic and Tranquility Gardens Hospital, she found that Mistress Rudiger had been on duty for six other infant deaths since the beginning of Desnus. This seemed to be a very high number, so she reported her suspicions to the dottari, who arrested Mistress Rudiger.
Abelia Rudiger is accused of the murders of Baby A.C., Baby W.I., Baby E.A., Baby D.V., Baby B.R., Baby H.A., Baby S.L., Baby R.M., Baby L.K., and Baby P.G. The sentence typically given for serial killings of this magnitude is immediate execution.
Abelia (Garnell) Rudiger – 35 year old human female, born in Redroof, married to Harman Rudiger, no children, has been employed by local clinics for at least five years
Statement from Newton Amsden, Abelia Rudiger’s coworker at Villegre Medical Center:
“I didn’t want to believe it – Abelia’s always seemed really nice – but the evidence was right there. I’ve never seen somebody on duty for so many deaths, especially of babies. I was on duty for two of them, but I talked to Gerlind and she said she’d been there when [Baby E.A.] died, and Lyonel was there for [Baby D.V.]. I didn’t know what to think, so I just told Mathilde.”
Statement from Dr. Mathilde Carvell, Abelia Rudiger’s superior at Villegre Medical Center:
“Abelia has always worked very hard, but I did always think it was odd that she worked for so many different clinics. When I contacted Tranquility Gardens and Crossroads, they easily gave me the information about the deaths that Abelia had been on duty for. In all my years in medicine, I’ve never heard of someone who was present for so many deaths without being culpable in some way.”
Statement from Abelia Rudiger:
“I would never hurt anyone that was under my care, especially babies. I became a healer to help people. I’ve been so upset that so many of my patients have died, but Aden [Farland, of Crossroads Clinic] said that everybody has a bad streak once in a while."
I need you to gather the following information for me:
Her reasons for dismissal from each site.
Any health issues reported with the babies, pre or post mortem.
I want to know anything that seems odd or anything that connects these together besides just a suspect. Try to talk to her directly. Look for anything to help us out – disproportionate work hours, viral outbreak, etc.
There has to be something. Check for defenses that we can use based on the occult or mental instabilities as well, and find out who else has access to the nursery in each place.
I cannot put trust in Alasdair yet, so we will do our own legwork.
Here’s what I was able to find. My personal thoughts: There’s nothing specific linking Abelia to the deaths, and none of the causes of death are particularly unusual. The prosecution will mostly have to go off of circumstantial evidence. It is statistically very unlikely that someone would be present for so many deaths, but it’s not completely impossible.
Let me know if you have anything else you want me to look into.
Abelia Rudiger resigned her position at Tranquility Gardens Hospital on 20 Arodus, 4715, citing her family’s relocation to the Villegre district. She resigned from Crossroads Clinic on 31 Desnus due to personal reasons.
Good reviews from supervisors, good record of showing up to work, seems to have been an excellent employee at both facilities
Medical records for the babies:
Baby A.C. (VMC) – human female, born 29 Rova, died shortly after birth, cause of death was given as prematurity
Baby W.I. (VMC) – half-elven female, born 1 Rova, died 14 Rova, cause of death was given as lung defect
Baby E.A. (VMC) – human female, born 12 Sarenith, died 2 Rova, cause of death was given as pneumonia
Baby D.V. (VMC) – tiefling male, born 24 Arodus, died shortly after birth, cause of death was given as prematurity
Baby B.R. (TGH) – human male, born 30 Erastus, died 15 Arodus, cause of death was given as intestinal necrosis
Baby H.A. (TGH) – human female, born 19 Erastus, died 22 Erastus, cause of death was given as pneumonia
Baby S.L. (TGH) – half-elven female, born 10 Sarenith, died shortly after birth, cause of death was given as asphyxia
Baby R.M. (CC) – human male, born 20 Desnus, died 31 Desnus, cause of death was given as pneumonia
Baby L.K. (CC) – human female, born 1 Desnus, died shortly after birth, cause of death was given as prematurity
Baby P.G. (CC) – human male, born 24 Gozran, died 25 Gozran, cause of death was given as lung defect
Only healers currently on duty have access to the nursery in each facility. As far as occult or supernatural causes go, there isn’t much I was able to find. Some fae are known to switch their babies for human children, but the point of that is for the fae child to be raised by human parents, which wouldn’t be the case with a dead baby. There was a case of a woman in Tian Xia a few decades ago who went mad and kidnapped babies after losing her own, but in that case the woman didn’t work in medicine and the babies’ remains were found away from the hospital.
One last thing, and it’s kind of a long shot. Do we have an estimated number of children who she has cared for across these facilities? A total sum?
It’s hard to estimate that kind of thing, but from what I can tell from the records it would probably be somewhere around 500?
To the esteemed Magistrate of the High Court -
I present to you the case against Abelia Rudiger, for the murder of ten different innocent children in a years time. The prosecution intends to be certain that these crimes are paid for in an equal manner, with an execution carried out post-haste for such heinous crimes.
Let us first look at the statement given by Doctor Carvell of the Villegre Medical Center, wherein he stated that ‘in all of his years of medicine, he had never heard of someone who was present for so many deaths without being culpable in some way.’ While this does not necessarily equate to a statement of guilt, it would seem to benefit the court to listen to a man of experience. To put this in another way – we all trust the blacksmith to know the steel he uses, and we trust the lawyers to know the laws, then we should also trust that a doctor would know the mortality better than you or I.
Ten children under her care have been deprived of life, all for varying reason. Let us start with the most blatant death, that of Baby S.L., passing from asphyxiation shortly after birth. This is a child we entered the world, who drew breath into innocent lungs, who lived for a time, and who died due to a lack of oxygen getting into the lungs. Who was in charge of the ward on the evening that this child simply ceased to breath? None other than Rudiger. A child does not – in its normal faculty – find a way to asphyxiate itself, nor does an attentive nurse allow such things to happen.
Beyond this most egregious death, two more (P.G. And W.I.) died of a ‘lung defect’ shortly after birth – we have a chain of causality where a number of children are simply ceasing to breath. Add to that with the deaths of three (L.K., D.V., A.C.) that were only listed as ‘prematurity’ – hardly a definable cause of death, often used as a placeholder when a true cause is undetermined. And three more (R.M., E.A., H.A.) who all had – again – a disease of the lung. Surely this sequence might lead any rational and prudent soul to look at it and realize that there are repeated concepts. Nine children under her care died due to potential lung issues, and she left each clinic quietly?
Not only does this show a likelihood that she has murdered the most innocent and defenseless among us, but that the Houses operating these clinics produce no defense of them and allow her to move between them without discipline. If they are not going to halt the reign of terror that she has inflicted, then it is up to the courts to do so.
While the death of (B.R.) may have been a tragedy, the rest show a pattern that seems highly unlikely to present itself naturally. The prosecution implored the court to view the sequence of similar events when debating a decision.
~ Lord Jerome Landerant
To the Magistrate of the High Court -
I present to you the case in defense of Mistress Abelia Rudiger, who stands accused of ten murders of children, a crime most heinous. With the full knowledge of what is at stake, the defense is being handled by Lord Alasdair Thrune and Corthos Mondragon in equal measure. The defense intends to prove that while unfortunate, these deaths were not intentional nor malicious.
Each of the superiors of Abelia Rudiger has given her excellent review prior to Villegre. She has been a model employee, one who was always present on time and worked her hardest. Her movements have been due to resignation due to personal issues and then a family relocation, not to hide anything as the prosecution suggests. While it is true that she has been present for ten deaths, I must ask the court one question – where is the direct evidence of her involvement in them? On multiple occasions, other nurses were present in the ward with her, as evidenced in the statement by Newton Amsden of the VMC – ( I was on duty for two of them, but I talked to Gerlind and she said she’d been there when [Baby E.A.] died, and Lyonel was there for [Baby D.V.]. ) Is it not prudent to suggest that if they were in the ward at the same time, they would have had more evidence of a supposed crime?
Rudiger has been present for approximately five hundred infants amongst the various clinics. We are discussing a mortality rate of two parts per one hundred – while sad, that is not outside of the realm of possibility. I ask the court to find out the infant mortality in Kintargo, or in any large city throughout our world – I would wager that two percent would fall within expected parameters. While she has been present for tragedy, let us not forget that a part of her job is in assisting with the post-birth care of infants who come from a variety of backgrounds, and any medical expert can advise you that the body is a frail and fickle creature at a young age, prone to sudden and abrupt illness that it has yet to learn to defend against.
To refute the prosecution, let us also look at Baby S.L., who passed from Asphyxiation. There is a common cause for this amongst infants – one rolls to the side and winds up facedown, unable to right itself or to draw enough breath. While looking for these records, you will find that S.L was not the only infant ascribed to asphyxiation in the last year, multiple children died of it both in Kintargo and abroad. Are we to presume that each and every child that is marked as asphyxiation is the victim of a foul crime? The only crime committed is the random cruelty of life.
As far as those ascribed to ‘prematurity’, we are all aware of the dangers of a child born too early – the lungs not fully formed, the heart weak, the mind vacant. We have all seen animals born far too early succumb to the slightest of diseases or stresses – the body is no different. While ‘prematurity’ may be a placeholder, it is a description that indicates the body was weakened and unable to fight off disease. And even if it does, the body may not fully repair itself, or may enter the world weak – certainly we all know of someone who had a childhood illness that they did not recover well from?
I only ask that as a man of law and sciences, you look at the facts of this case, instead of the emotions. It is a tragedy when one so young is taken, but we cannot allow that to cloud our judgement. Two percent – that is what this is regarding. Two percent of children in her care in the last five years have succumbed to weakness, to disease, or to tragic accident. Two percent of the children in the care of a devoted and hardworking healer, who has not had any manner of disciplinary action against her prior to this. To paraphrase her previous superior, Doctor Aden Farland – ‘Everyone has a bad streak once in a while.’ If we are to recognize medical expertise in this courtroom, let us recognize that even the medical experts do not consider it beyond possibility.
There is no pattern here, and no murderer. There is a cold and indifferent chaos of life, and it simply takes as it sees fit. While each of these deaths has been a tragedy, there is no evidence that these were intentional acts, or that this was anything more than the cruelty of chance.
While the defense understands the want to create someone to blame, we cannot let an innocent life be ruined without a far greater preponderance of evidence. When looked at factually, we implore the court to recognize that this is not the homicidal work of one woman – it is the cruel reality of a universe that we exist in.
~ Master C. Mondragon (Jarvis) and Lord A. Thrune (Tanessen)
I thank both the prosecution and the defense for their arguments, which were as well-reasoned as they could be in a case with such a lack of evidence. I am not entirely sure how such a case was even allowed to come to trial – the law needs much more than a suspicion that someone might have done something. However, allowed to come to trial it was, so I will do my best to consider both sides in a balanced manner.
I will start by addressing the argument of the prosecution. Lord Landerant is correct that several of the children’s deaths had similar causes. However, this is certainly not concrete evidence of any foul play. Upon hearing that an epidemic of dysentery was ravaging our city (as it did not so many years ago), would your immediate response be to suspect that a serial killer was responsible for those deaths? It would be an outlandish thought, and yet this is essentially the case you have made. Infants die for many reasons, birth defects and prematurity chief among them.
I will now address the argument of the defense, which is blessedly more logical. Lord Thrune and Master Mondragon put forth the argument that Mistress Rudiger was simply the victim of chance. None of the children showed any evidence of being murdered or mishandled, and their causes of death were not particularly unusual. Additionally, the defense is correct when it asserts that the mortality rate for those children was not out of the norm – research indicates that Cheliax’s national infant mortality rate is 43 deaths per 1000 live births.
It is the impulse of the mind to find someone to blame when something seems out of sorts or unfair. It makes sense that the parents of these children might seek for someone to be found responsible, but practitioners of medicine should know better. I reiterate my opinion that this case should never have been brought to trial with such a laughable lack of evidence against the defendant.
I find Abelia Rudiger not guilty, and offer a heartfelt apology to her that her honor and competency were impugned for nothing but a bad feeling.
Magistrate Jocelyne Cromwell
Upper Court of Kintargo