Mom Who Killed Son Dies After Suicide Try

MONDAY, AUG. 4, 1997

A woman sentenced to life in prison for hanging her 3-year-old son died on Sunday, three days after trying to strangle herself in prison with a torn piece of robe.

Amanda Wallace, a 32-year-old with a history of mental illness, was taken off life support Saturday. She died of respiratory failure, providing a sad end to a case that prompted lawmakers to make changes in the state’s child-welfare system.

In April 1993, Amanda Wallace stuffed a sock in Joseph Wallace’s mouth, put him on a chair, waved good-bye and hanged him with an electrical cord from the transom above a door in their apartment on the Chicago’s West Side.

After she was convicted of first-degree murder, the judge decided against the death penalty and sentenced her last year to life in prison.

Wallace, who was abused as a child, had a long history of mental and emotional problems and had tried to kill herself before.

In 1993, the state Department of Children and Family Services placed Joseph in a foster home.

But shortly before Joseph’s death, a Juvenile Court judge allowed the boy to return to his mother even though her psychiatrist said Wallace should “never have custody of this baby or any baby.”

Wallace’s case prompted lawmakers to double the number of judges who handle juvenile cases and make other changes in the state’s child-welfare system.

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